camping

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.

 

Ways to Beat The Sun While Camping

Well, summer is in full swing and it is already hot! No one likes to be stuck in the camper while camping, it defeats the purpose. We will be back out camping this weekend and it’s going to be in the 90’s. Being that our campsite is in full sun after 1:00pm (hottest part of the day), we have tried many ways to beat it and try to stay cool.

Tent campers usually don’t have this issue, but us camper campers do.

So let’s go over some ways to beat that sun and find some ways to make being outside all day bearable.

Making Shade

If you have full shade, consider yourself lucky! I get envious when I see other campers relaxing in full shade all weekend. We picked our spot because of the water access, so we need to create our own.

Here are a couple ideas

Pop Up/Canopy Tents

We will start with what you probably already have. If you camp, have kids with sports or spend a lot of time outside, you may already have a pop up tent. These can make for some cheap free shade. If you do not already have a pop up tent, you can check out the best pop up canopy comparisons by doing a quick search online.

What we do when conditions are right is use the pop up tent next to our awning. Depending on the time of day and sun locations, you may need to adjust at times.

Tip: If you drop one side of the tent lower than the other, it will give you more control over your shade and create a larger area.

Pros

  • You may already have
  • Other uses
  • Easy to travel with for other outdoor events/games
  • Can get different types/colors/sport teams

Cons

  • May need to adjust with sun location
  • Shade area may be small depending on angle

Camper Awning Shade

Camper awning shade

They actually made awning shades for campers. They connect to your awning and tie down to the ground on the bottom. Like anything else camper related, you will pay dearly for this shade. They can be found at most local camping stores or online at Amazon.

Pros

  • Easy to install/Remove
  • Always shade
  • Doesn’t block view
  • Looks like it belongs

Cons

  • Cost
  • Has an indoor feel
  • Creates a small area

 

Hitch Umbrella

Photo: Pinterest (sorry we did not take a photo but will)

We found a new gadget while visiting a Walmart a few weeks ago. It was more of a pulse buy when we seen it heading to the checkout. They call it the Tailbrella. My thoughts on this are mixed. We find it to be better used at the kids baseball games or tailgating but it can be used for added shade if needed while camping.

We found ourselves using it when we needed that extra shade when we had guests. We would not recommend using this as your main source of shade but as an add on if needed. We do recommend for sporting events and tailgating.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Adjustable/Tilt
  • Portable
  • People will ask about it
  • Gets the job done
  • If you fish while camping, you can use as well

Cons

  • Best used when sun is high (middle of day)
  • Vehicle needs to there
  • Shade will be offset if sun is at a large angle

Ideas For The Kids

So, mom and dad are good with sitting back and relaxing but the kids are not. The idea behind camping is making memories and that’s not going to happen if the kids are either miserable from the heat or just hanging out inside the camper.

The Pool

Okay, so this is pretty obvious but I have to mention it. Most camp grounds have pools. Use them! Load up on sun block and hit the pool for a few hours. Let them find friends and have some fun for a few hours each day.

We find that hitting the pool mid afternoon is best for us. This is when our site is in full sun. It is also the hottest part of the day. By the time they get back from swimming, the sun is settling down for the night and they are cool and worn out. Have a good dinner and they will want to relax in the evening.

Water Games

There are many different types of water games you can play with the kids. It’s not only fun, but also refreshing.

Here are a couple things you can do.

  1. Water balloons of course are always fun. Though they can be a pain to fill a bunch of them just to go through all the balloons in 10 minutes. One tip is to buy the quick fill water balloons that can be found here.
  2. They make a football that holds a water balloon. You swing it back and forth to each other and if it hits too hard, it will pop getting someone wet. My kids love this though they all want it to pop on them! I can’t find it online but I believe we got it from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
  3. Lastly, you can unhook your water hose from the camper for a bit and let the kids use a sprinkler. Some camp sites do not allow this so make sure to check. We are able to do it and love it. We actually installed a two way water connection to make it easy.

Go To The Shade

If you don’t have water options where you are staying, go find the shade on hot sunny days. A hike through the woods are not only cool, but fun! It is a teachable time with your kids. Take long walks through the woods, look for wildlife, signs animals have left and take in the beauty of nature. You can teach your children how to be quiet to respect the area and to always be alert of their surroundings.

Conclusion

No matter how you stay cool on hot days while camping, the most important thing is to make sure everyone is having fun. Like I mentioned earlier, you are making memories. Those memories don’t need to be of being miserable!

So how do you beat the sun while camping?