Summer Camps: Portraits of campground hosts in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest

Before Gloria and Danny Hinton became campground hosts, they already knew what made a good one. It was on a three-month road trip in a Class B motorhome last summer that they realized they, too, could do the job — and do it well.

“It just makes you feel good and secure when people take care of you like that,” said Danny, from the picnic table of site 1 of the Pine Creek Campground.

After that trip, the Hintons reconsidered their whole lives. They both had already left their jobs in Tennessee, where they had worked as a nursing director and a maintenance supervisor.

“I said this is the time,” Danny said. “We’re both pretty healthy, financially we’re ok. Let’s just go ahead and do what we want to do.”

They sold just about everything.

“All the big furniture is gone,” said Gloria

“We got rid of two cars,” Danny continued.

“Sold the class B”

“Sold the house.”

“Only thing we kept is that, which we bought,” Gloria said, pointing at the 20-foot trailer they live in, “that to pull it,” pointing to the SUV in front of the trailer, “and our bass boat. I wasn’t giving up our bass boat!”

The job has proven simple: cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the campgrounds, mowing, managing reservations and walk-ins, selling firewood, answering questions. Rare, though, is the campground host who does the bare minimum.

The Hintons say over the summer, they’ve helped make repairs to RVs for visitors and assisted on search and rescue operations (“Once a nurse, always a nurse,” Gloria said).

“Our commitment here is not just checking people in, checking people out.” said Danny. “It’s very broad. It’s making sure they have a…”

“Memorable,” Gloria chimed in. “And enjoyable…”

“… time here,” finished Danny.

Samuel Wilson – Chronicle Photographer