CAMP VERDE - For George Flint, coming to Camp Verde each year is like coming back home.
That's because Camp Verde is the winter home of George and his wife Renee.
Since 2009, the Flints have spent at least four months each year at the Distant Drums RV Resort.
After retiring from the landscape gardening business they built in their Smith Mountain Lake, Va., home, the Flints were eager to see more of the country. They were also keen on finding a warmer locale for their winters.
"We love it here," Renee said. "It's so much different than Virginia."
In 2007 and 2008, the Flints spent their winters in Casa Grande. They enjoyed it, George said, but they knew there was a place that was even better.
"We didn't want to be in Phoenix," George said. "And Flagstaff's too cold in the winter. But Camp Verde is in the middle. At first glance, it didn't look like much. But the more we looked around, we saw how great it is here. It's a hidden gem. I'd recommend Camp Verde to anybody."
One of George's favorite places in Camp Verde is the Historical Society. George considers the annual membership dues one of the best investments he has ever made.
"My wife's not so much a history buff," George said. "I'm the history buff. I love to come here and listen to the stories, take it all in."
When not sightseeing or talking with Camp Verde's living history, George and Renee garden at Distant Drums. Since 2011, the Flints have been work kampers at the resort. As work kampers, the Flints spend 12 hours each week planting and tending to the lush greenery that accents the park.
"Most people who travel in RVs are pretty laid back," George said. "We want to provide an atmosphere that they can enjoy."
In exchange for their duties as work kampers, the Flints receive a parking space for their motor home, propane, laundry and a discount in the camp store.
"Being a work kamper has a lot of perks," George said. "If it weren't for the program, we couldn't afford to stay as long as we do."
Renee said she enjoys working with George on the landscaping.
"We love the weather," Renee said. "And it's nice to meet the other work kampers. The workers really take pride in the park. We really like it when people say how good everything looks."
Last year, the Flints planted a cactus garden. This year, they will be putting in 40 plants.
"These guys are great," said Marysville, Wash., resident Vicki Rahe, a Distant Drums winter resident each of the past three years. "It looks really good when they're around."