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.

 

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