Camping Tips

Yearly Camp Sites: What I Have Learned and What You Need To Know

Having a yearly camping spot has been our choice fr the past couple of years. We picked this for a couple reasons. 1. We have three kids in activities, full time jobs and endless extended family birthday parties. It was becoming impossible to plan camping trips and if we did get a last minute trip scheduled, it seemed like we were spending way to much time setting up. The weekend would fly by and it didn’t seem like we would have any down time to enjoy the weekend. I actually just posted on permanent sites vs travel camping.

So, we decided to go with a permanent camping spot. Since then, I have learned many things that I never thought of when having your own little spot. Today, I want to go over some of the more important things that someone might not think of. It defendant has it’s pros and cons.

You Get More Time To Relax

The first thing is the one biggest reason that we went with a yearly camping spot. More time to relax and enjoy being together. You show up, get your chairs out, lay your rug and turn on water/electric. The rest of the time is yours. When its time to go, do a quick clean up and your off. No unhooking/hooking up the camper, trying to level the camper, etc.

You Have to Cut The Grass

One thing I never though of is the lot grass. We have a pretty large lot and there is a lot of grass. We have to keep it cut. Not only that, we need to cut it regularly. Just like at home, your neighbors are not too happy if you let it go and only cut it every couple of weeks. Luckily our camp site is on the way to where I work a lot. I can swing by and knock it out on my way through.

You Gather A LOT of Stuff

Another thing I never really think would happen but does, is all the stuff you end up at your site. Besides having a lawn mower sitting behind the camper, we also have a full size grill to make cooking easy, more kid toys, scooters, etc than I would have though and of course my wife’s lawn decorations!

This takes many people to the next level and end up with a small shed on the site. We are unable to have one since we have to pull out at the end of the year due to flooding in the off season but some people on higher ground has them. A shed can keep your camping site a little cleaner looking but it also starts the process of the next topic…

Is It Still Camping?

So, we have to cut the grass, have a full size grill, some people have sheds, TV, video game system for the kids and more. The question is, is this our camp site or a vacation home? It’s easy to over supply your yearly camping spot thinking of new things that you “need”. You can go overboard easier than one might think and it can start to feel like not camping or easier to not spend time together. Because of this, we do a few things to try and help with this.

Take a tent

We have a small tent that we keep at camp. We try to use it every other trip at least one night. We make that night no electronic night and spend it all together sleeping in the tent. You can do a little research and find some family sized tents for pretty cheap prices.

I suggest the following rules for tent night:

  1. No electronics
  2. Cook on the fire pit (no grill/oven)
  3. No camper access. Well, maybe for the girls to go potty but make the boys go outside. All boys love to pee outside!
  4. Catch up and let your kids tell stories at the fire or when laying down for the night. Take time to listen to them.

Credit: David Mulder

No TV or games when it’s nice out

Probably the biggest mistake I have made in regards to out yearly camping spot was adding an Xbox in the camper. My teenager can get lost in games and we had to make a rule. You can only play video games if it is raining or on extra hot days (for an hour while you cool down). I recommend leaving the games at home, but if you do take a system, make sure there are rules of when and how much they can be played.

You Save Money

Another pro to having your own camping spots, is that you save money on some things that you have to regularly keep buying. Here are a few:

Firewood

I can’t tell you how many bundles of wood I have purchased from a camp ground or local store. If you haven’t noticed, those prices keep rising and people keep paying. I believe the last time we purchased firewood from one of these places it cost us over $1 per piece of wood… It would cost us $20 to have a fire per night!

So having your own campsite means you can stack as much as you like. You can bring in a rick from someone local who sells wood, but better yet, why not buy a log splitter for firewood? It’s a little expense but it will pay for itself within a short couple years. Even faster if you can get your hands on enough to sell to other campers as well!

These cost about $7 each! Credit: Joyful Honda

Ice

If you camp, you buy tons of ice. No matter if you camp in a camper or in a tent, we all have the need for ice. Having a yearly camping spot diminishes the need for so much of it. Imagine if when you showed up to your camping spot, the fridge was already cold and maybe even already stocked! This is one pro that I love.

I can either stop by the site a few days ahead of our weekend and turn the electric on, start getting the fridge cold. That way when we show up, its all ready to go. No need to keep things on ice the first night.

If we will be camping the following weekend, we will leave our electric on and keep everything as is. Just hit the AC unit on our way out. This has saved me probably over $100 in ice this year which is about 8% of our yearly site fee.

You Pay Electric

With a yearly camping spot comes the need to pay for your own electric. Unlike weekend camping sites, it is not included. This is a pro and con. for one, your electric is more stable than sharing with the rest of the camp ground. You should have less surges and power loss.

The down side is:

  • you have to have turned on
  • there is usually a monthly minimum from the electric company (ours is $20)
  • you may need to turn off at the end of season and turn back on in the beginning, there is a fee for this.

Last year which was our first yearly stay, we left our electric turned on through the electric company but turned the breaker off at the meter when we left for the season. It was half forgetfulness and half not wanting to pay the re-connection fee the following year but we never did call can have them turn it off. We learned a hard lesson from this.

We knew we were in a flood zone on the off season but it usually doesn’t make it up to our meters. Well, last year it did. So our meter was “hot” sitting under water for about two months. The water/electric combo ate away our meter hard hardware and needed to be replaced. We were not the only campers that did this, I heard it happen to about 10 of us. So, we learned that lesson and will not mistake that mistake again.

My Final Thougts

If your family loves to camp but can never find time to make it happen, you may want to think about getting a yearly camping site. Just remember that though it is great to quick last minutes trips that will allow you to spend more time having fun, it might not be as good as it sounds.

It works great for my family and it may for yours as well, just know what to expect!

Sources: Some images are being used under the Creative Commons License. These images are marked as so.

 

Permanent vs Travel RV Camping Spots

There are many types of campers with tent only, hike camping and travel trailer camping are probably the most common. Today we will be covering travel trailer (or RV) camping.

Within this group, there are two types of campers. Some pull their campers to different campsites each trip and other rent a site for the year. We have done both over the years and there are pros and cons for both types. So let’s go over both now…

Permanent Camping Spots

Having a yearly camping spot has a lot of pros but also has some very noteworthy cons to cover. If you are thinking of taking the dive into a yearly camping spot, here are the pros and cons of doing so.

Convenience

The biggest pro of renting a camping spot for the year is probably the reason you may be considering it, convenience!

No one like to set up the camper. It can take most of your first night away from you leveling, testing power, digging out all the water hoses, sewage, etc. When you have a yearly camping spot, you set up once and you are mostly golden. When you show up, you can drop your awning, throw your rug down, turn water/electric on and you ready for the fire pit.

Making Friends

Camping is known as a family activity which is true. But depending on your family situation, kids get bored quite easy. Each of of our 3 children are 5 years apart. As of now, they range from 4 to 14 years old (yes 15 years from youngest to oldest!). Your kids making friends that they will most likely get to play with on every camping trip is worth more than I could ever imagine.

My kids being so far apart, they fight, a lot. My 9 and 14 year old do everything possible to irritate the other. Being able to let them have friends to hang out with during the day is great and has taken a lot of pressure off my wife and I.

It is also nice when us adults also make friends at a camp ground. Sure, you want the family time and some quiet nights by the fire which we get. But, if you camp a lot like we do, its always nice to know others around to have some camping parties.

Lastly, yearly campers are like one big family. They watch over each other when you might be around. Just last year while we were out of town on a family vacation, a storm came through our camp ground. We got a text that a tree fell on our camper 2 days into our trip. We were also sent photos and information that we had 15 other campers covering our camper to prevent more (water damage) within 5 minutes of it falling in the middle of the storm! When we got back, it was all tarp’ed up and ready for the insurance company.

Making Your Camping Site Yours

Another Pro is that you can set up your camping spot the way you want. It’s yours for the year(s) you rent it, so it’s your yard! So, set those flags, put out those flowers and make it look pretty!

Some camp grounds will allow you to lay your own rock or nice concrete pad. Most yearly camping spots do not do this yearly.

You may also be able to add a small shed to keep your golf cart, fishing gear or your other camping toys in. Is this over kill? Maybe, but I have seen some crazy setups! we do not personally have a shed since our spot floods in the winter and early spring. However, we do leave our golf cart and grill behind our camper while not there.

Fire Pit Always Ready

Lastly, having a yearly camp site can save you time and money overall. No more buying $5 bundles of fire wood that lasts half a night. Bring in and stack your own! You can go out and buy a rick of wood for $65 which I have done or do what I do now and split your own. Read up on reviews of log splitters and get yourself one. It will not only turn free wood into fire wood for the year, but you will also very quickly become a very popular person in your camp ground. Take it over and help a couple neighbors split wood for a day and you have favors for the whole year.

Travel RV Camping

So permanent camping spots are not for everyone. Hey, I get it and up until lat season, all we did was travel camp. We selected to try a permanent site for the convenience. However, my family and I actually enjoy traveling more overall. So let’s cover why travel camping offers.

More Family Time

Since each camping trip is new (or not common), it is more of a family trip. Everyone seems to stay closer together, we go to the pool together, hike together, etc. The kids tend to get along a little better because they are not in a comfortable place. We tend to sit around the fire a little more as a family and just hang out and talk. This is what camping is really all about and I hold that time close to my heart.

Never Gets Old

When you have a yearly spot, kids can get bored with it. We have noticed the kids are not “excited ” to go camping as much as when we traveled a lot. When you travel a little, there is always something new going on. You can also visit state parks, themed camp grounds. We like Camp Jellystone which are located all over the place.

The Downside

Like I mentioned above, this is our 2nd year at a permanent camping site for the convenience. When you pull and set your camper each time you go camping, it makes for a very short stay most weekends. By the time we would get home from work and get to our camping site on Friday nights, it would be 7:30PM and we would still need to set up. Once set up we would eat late and our Friday night would be over. We would have all day Saturday and then leave Sunday.

It got to the point where it wasn’t worth the trip unless we took a day or two off every time we went camping. There are only so many camp sites close enough to hit late on a Friday. We found ourselves camping less and less and taking more time off work to take longer trips away from home.

We love to camp, during the summer we try to camp 3 out of 4 weekends per month. Travel camping was just turning into too much work.

The Final Thought

Permanent camping or travel camping is really a choice of what works best for your situation. If you camp a lot, a permanent spot might be worth a try. Worst case, you do not stay for the following year.

If you do not camp 3 weekends a month, travel might work best for you.

We personally like travel camping more but are going with the convenience (for now). However, we have decided to pull out and make a week long camping trip at least once a year. As mentioned above, we love Camp Jellystone. Our favorite is the one on Lake Monroe and the other is at Mammoth Caves. Our plan is to mix things up and travel a bit to keep things fresh 🙂