Golf Course Popular Campsite For Day Laborers

A make-shift camp ground is steadily becoming more popular among out-of-town carpenters, mechanics, and roofers. Dozens of day laborers have pitched tents at the city-owned Tramark Golf Course in Gulfport. They say in the past few weeks, the number of campers has doubled.

When Jim Watkins isn't out collecting scrap metal.. he's busy trying to make his tent more comfortable. Since arriving from Texas, he says he's watched Tramark Golf Course become more crowded.

"There were four campers here about a month ago," he said. "Now it's camp world. There's campers everywhere."

Watkins says there are perks to having roofers, carpenters, electricians and mechanics as neighbors.

"All of us work together and help each other. We've got guys in different trades, and we do all our own thing together. When one needs a hand, we help each other."

Richard Bravo arrived two days ago from Nashville.

"I thought I was going to have to camp out. I was pretty much planning for camping out," said Bravo.

Paul Purvis is one the few people there who is from the coast and not a day laborer. He's been on an extended camping trip since Katrina flooded his Gulfport house.

"It's been okay," said Purvis. "It's a little bit inconvenient with no showers or running water other than over there at the rest rooms. It's a little bit warm. I'm not in a shady spot."

People say there are other downsides to claiming a spot here. It's noisy at night and not everyone picks up after themselves. Still Jim Watkins has few complaints instead he uses hard work and resourcefulness.. He has a television, a dresser, and even a kitchen sink.

"We've earned it. We made it happen. Some of the people WLOX-TV spoke with today say they got permission before setting up camp others admitted they hadn't. The people who run Tramark confirmed this. They say they got about three phone calls.