Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Campgrounds


Certainly all RV campgrounds are not equal.  We can make this statement even though we do not have years of experience under our belts but because, while we have probably only stayed in as many RV parks as you have fingers, we have stayed in enough to start to form opinions and have made judgments. I believe that our reviews would match the thoughts of most everyone else.  

We are just normal, very average RVers.  Yes, we have our preferences but they are not necessities like some may have.  We are moderate size, even modest by class A standards, so we don’t need extra-long sights.  We like to have full hook ups (water, electricity and sewer) but we have also boondocked (use water from our on-board fresh water tank, generate our own electricity and dump our holding tanks somewhere else) very comfortably.  There are certain amenities we would appreciate like cable TV and internet access through the camp’s WIFI but we have our own back-ups for those as well.  We don’t go swimming, neither do we play horse shoes nor miniature golf although we probably should. If a campground has a laundry with washing machines to handle large items, we might take advantage of those.  Some people must have or think they must have most of these things.

 
We have stayed at public campgrounds (city, county state or national parks) but mostly at privately owned RV parks which make up the vast majority of RV parks.  Some parks are old but have been well cared for and have made upgrades like longer, wider sights and 50 amp electricity to accommodate the bigger rigs that over the last 20 years have become more popular.  Newer parks are designed from the start to accommodate all types of RVs.  There are even high end "Resorts" that boast spa like amenities which we have visited. 

But all parks are direct reflections of the people who own or manage them. 

Some private parks are part of franchises like KOA or Yogi Bear’s Jellystone.  Some are part of camping clubs like Thousand Trails (which we feel is a rip-off business) and most belong to discount organizations like Good Sams, Pass Port America or FMCA, all three of which we belong to and are well worth the cost to join.
 

Franchise campgrounds usually cost more but claim to have more amenities and a better camping experience.  We stayed at a KOA in Wilmington, NC that was very much worth the premium price.  But we also stayed at one near Tallahassee that was awful!  It was so bad I had to write to the KOA organization to tell them how this neglected, junkyard campground was hurting their brand.  I never heard back from KOA. 
 

So far about 50% of the camp grounds we have stayed at have been fair to wonderful experiences and about half have been ”OK” to poor.  We can’t say that we have had a totally negative experience yet (I don’t know what that would entail) and hope we never do.

Because so many private campgrounds are Mom & Pop type businesses, you will encounter a full range of customer service from “I could care less” (and their campground shows it) to “5 star accommodation” attitude.  We have come across the campgrounds that try to cheat you out of your discount by telling you that “all the discount sights are taken” (they have learned that from the airlines) or play games with your camp sight so that you won’t get the weekly discount rate.  We have come to take with a grain of salt the advertising on a campground’s website (if it has one) and when talking to them over the phone (if they answer it), to ask specific questions and get specific answers.  We have learned how to judge and select an RV park based on what we find on the internet and what others have to say about it in on-line reviews and then we will look at them up close on Google Maps’ satellite photos.

We try to tell the owners or managers that our stay was good if indeed it was.   We think that if people deserve a pat on the back, pat ‘em!  And if our stay was less than nice, we believe that our payment gives us the right to tell them that, too.  After all, how are they going to know they should improve?

Joanie is keeping a causal journal about places we stay.  We may never pass this way again but if we do, we will remember.

 
We met Bob & Mary Lou here at The Barnyard RV Park in Lexington, SC.  This is their 40 foot American Tradition that is 12 years old and they just traded it on a new Tiffin Phaeton 40 AH which they will pick up in 3 weeks.  They lived in New Bern when we did.  They are headed to Lake Wiley, SC.  Small world!


 

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