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Big-time magazine mangles the RV park story, misses the mark

OPINION
There was a time when, for all its excesses—and there were many!—Forbes magazine at least could be counted on for insightful reportage on American capitalism. Such coverage, to be sure, was steeped in unabashed boosterism, but it also looked beyond surface appearances and poked at deeper trends and developments. It was smart and literate, and it took its numbers seriously. Alas, no more.

Earlier this month, Forbes ran a piece headlined, “Growing Demand Fuels Rising Tide of New, Expanded RV Parks,” which sounded promising only as far as the first sentence. There, the reader was informed that “this past winter saw the construction of more than 50 new campgrounds and RV parks, offering more than 15,000 new RV sites”—a statement which on its face is absurd and should have been red-penciled by any copy editor with an ounce of mathematical smarts.

Painting an inaccurate picture

Although Forbes would have us believe that 300-site RV parks were being thrown up in a matter of months all across the U.S., none of the three examples it highlighted to give readers “a sense of the wholesale explosion of the RV park phenomenon” comes close to meeting that hyperbolic description. The largest, Gulf Shores RV Resort, will have an “anticipated” 175 sites this summer; the “brand-new” Red Coach Resort hasn’t started advertising its 47 sites, only 17 of which have hook-ups; and River Ridge Retreat, which opened last fall with 23 sites, added 31 more in March.

In other words, the “wholesale explosion of the RV park phenomenon” is more of a whimper than a bang, at least within the pages of Forbes magazine.

The RV park phenomenon is no longer just about “camping,” but about housing of last resort.

The story missed by “The Capitalist Tool,” as Forbes used to brand itself, is the extent to which capitalism-run-rampant is rapidly destroying the campground industry as we’ve known it. The same widening of the wealth gap that has splintered American society overall is seeping into the way we camp and use the outdoors, transforming a formerly egalitarian form of recreation into an economically stratified one anchored at its low end by people desperate for shelter. The RV park phenomenon is no longer just about “camping,” but also  about housing of last resort.

No critical eyes here

A decade ago, Forbes changed its tagline to “Change the World,” a limp retreat from the jaunty in-your-face insouciance of “The Capitalist Tool,” so maybe it’s not surprising that its coverage of RVing is equally mealy-mouthed and shallow. Were it otherwise, perhaps it might follow up on stories like that of Garlic Farm RV Park in California, midway through a three-year conversion of all 160 of its RV sites into a subdivision of 400-square-foot “tiny homes.”

Or perhaps it could look at Payson, Arizona, where the mayor is urging changes in the city code to allow people to live in their RVs permanently because the school district is losing teachers who can’t find a place to rent or buy. Or it could report on the Flathead River in Kalispell, Montana, where complaints of RV sewage and portable potties being emptied into one of the country’s most iconic waterways are pressuring the U.S. Forest Service to severely limit public access, if not shut it down altogether.

To the extent that the “RV park phenomenon” is an outgrowth of the explosion in RVing and camping, the story is far more nuanced and ultimately tragic than Forbes has recognized. Then again, Forbes is hardly unique. The industry overall has been so enthralled with itself that it rarely casts a critical eye on its own excesses, and at the extent to which it is contributing to the degradation of the natural environment it purportedly celebrates. “Change the world,” indeed.

Andy Zipser is the author of Renting Dirt, the story of his family’s experiences owning and operating a Virginia RV park. From the book: “While campers are out to experience fresh air, bucolic surroundings and the easy-going camaraderie of fellow travelers, the people who create that environment are often over-worked, under-paid and stressed out. And to make matters worse, their efforts are too readily dismissed as just ‘renting dirt.’” The fascinating book is available at some bookstores and at Amazon.com.

##RVT1054

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Juls
28 days ago

How about the new craze of “all-inclusive” resorts taking over actual campgrounds?
Just found out a local favorite city campground is selling out (apparently without voter approval so we shall see where it goes) to a huge corporate resort that includes senior living in park models, resort hotel and restaurants and bars. All this taking away more than 200 RV and tent camping sites outside of Dallas, Texas.
Money, greed and “progress” are again taking over what has been a fairly natural setting, well loved by all who used it for family gatherings, weekend unwinding and lakeside fun.

Cheryl
25 days ago
Reply to  Juls

Curious, what park this is you are referring to and the buyer? I live in Dallas.

chris
1 month ago

forbes is click bait now… I stopped bothering to read them a long time ago. No one should take them seriously anymore.

wanderer
1 month ago

Good article. The only people reading Forbes are capitalist tools looking for a new place to make a buck. It will be interesting to see how many of them take their share of the 5 trillion the Fed gave the banks to loan out, using it to build new RV resorts for the well-to-do or new trailer parks for the desperate.

Mark
1 month ago

You lost me when you started blathering about “capitalism run rampant” and the “wealth gap”. I go camping to get away from people like you.

D Mead
1 month ago

Brilliant piece.

Richard
1 month ago

Nicely done.
All “Journalists” have an agenda. Whether the facts support it is of little concern to them. This becomes more evident with time.
The current economic/social problems are driven by “Governmental” entities. If they didn’t WANT these issues to exist, they wouldn’t.
Governments are HORRIBLE institutions. They are concerned only with their own desires, power, and growth. They are capable of GREAT atrocities, with no conscience. History shows us this repeatedly. Now is no different.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

“Democracy is the worst form of government.. except for all the others that have been tried.” – Churchill

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Thank God the United States of America doesn’t have a Democracy.

MrNobody
1 month ago

Don’t know if you are joking or one of those pedantic types. Of course the US has a democracy, not a direct democracy but a representative democracy. There are literally dozens of types of democracies – The UK is a parliamentary democracy while the US is a “federal constitutional representative democracy” also referred to as a republic, but still a democracy.

wanderer
1 month ago
Reply to  MrNobody

Wake up and smell the rot, we now live in an oligarchy ruled by the few for the few.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  MrNobody

Sir, please remember this, it is important to know your own countries form of government. We, have a Representative Republic. We do not have a Democracy form of Government.

You should take time and read our History, especially the founders beliefs and subsequently the formation of the most sucessful form of government created by man, on God’s Good Earth.

For when a sufficient number, like yourself, fail to understand the form, and how it is UNIQUE, then we as a nation, will continue on it’s present decline.

There will be two key SCOTUS decisions handed down next month, that will represent the very form of government you live under. And in those decisions, lies the very essence of our REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC.

Have a nice day, and i suggest you always know of what you speak, it will bode well in your travels.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago

Update; Trudeau just ban guns in Oh Canada. He’s a clown, drunk on power. Too bad you Canucks have no CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

You see, the Form of Government does matter boys and girls, so when the hoodlums start shooting it up, up there, guess you’re going to have to call the cops, and hope you don’t get shoot waiting.

Good luck!

Bob p
28 days ago

Everyone likes to take pot shots at our form(type) of government, but it’s still the only country people do everything they can to get into it. The only time I saw people scrambling to get into Canada was during Vietnam when all the draft dodgers were running away from their country. And Canada welcomed them, that left a bitter taste in the mouth for Canada. I didn’t like the war either but I still served my country.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

As a retired Navy Journalist, EVERYTHING you just said is wrong. Worse, it is seriously uneducated. Journalists are, by and large, assigned to cover a story, and almost always have no knowledge of its larger aspects. Governments are an extension of the people that set them up. 250 years ago, ours was set up by well to do, white land owners Ever since then, most everything that has been done by and for the ‘People’ really has been aimed at the monied-interests. As voters, we have the unique ability to ‘throw the bums out’ every few years. That said, one voters bum is another voters ‘defender of traditional American values’.

So, we are, by and large, to blame for our own predicament. Vote wisely.

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Thank you, Jeff. Well said! As a retired engineer, we had to use proven technologies and calculations based on real science–not someone’s opinion–in our projects or people could die. Now technology and science are attacked by social-media “influencers” who only want to earn ad money, not do research and provide objective analysis.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve H

Kinda like the way the “Vaxes” came to market, eh!

Sailor Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Jeff, How long did you serve and what did you retire as? Another retired Navy vet is interested.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Well said. I believe you will see a shift this November. There will be many who will be vocal that it is the wrong shift. But know this, our founders gave us the ability as LEGAL CITIZENS of this nation to change. And if I’m right, you’re going to see one of the biggest flip in the House of Representatives, in the our history.

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Well Said, Richard!!

captain gort
1 month ago

A flaming arrow hits the bulls eye! This is EXACTLY what I see going on. We Americans (and many others..there’s.plenty of blame to go around here) have a long history of such behavior. The “Free Market” can create monsters…think of the countless examples you’ve seen.
But the opposite is certainly true and often even more destructive…just look at the chaos the current administration is doing….arguably the worst ever, even including Carter.

Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

👍👍👍👍

James Verhaeren
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

Yes, I will be avoiding Texas

Gary W.
1 month ago

Please do.

Dallas Dave
1 month ago

Good, stay out. Lots of places you can go to. I can make a suggestion of where you can go, if you like.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dallas Dave
B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

Agreed! Thumbs UP 👍🏻

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

I want to believe there are still enough Americans to turn this around. I ask, that you pay close attention to those amongst us, who do not see the obvious, for they must be marginalized, if we are to move forward, and get back on the path, the founders laid for us.

Ellen L
1 month ago

Maybe Johnny Robot wrote the article in Forbes… just sayin’.

Tim
1 month ago

Andy hits the nail on the head with this.
Unfortunately others seem to want to bury their heads in the sand. Out of sight, out of mind.

Last edited 1 month ago by RV Staff
John Irvine
1 month ago

Thanks for a well done and reasoned piece. I was skeptical when I saw the title but pleased with your balanced take. Funny that some of the comments bash all journalism and news outlets, which of course has some merit, but here we have a good piece of journalism. Remember if you read all or never there is usually a lack of critical thought.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago

There is a great reset coming, and its not what the current ************ in the WH has in mind. Every bubble bursts, and this time around, due to the Fed printing 5 trillion, the current DC leaders, with help from the minority party as well, have sailed we the people, off the edge.

If your not in cash, get there. This one will be an crash for the ages. Only then, can things realign themselves. For the leadership have failed us, and it now time to pay the piper.

Glenn
1 month ago

Oh no. The sky is falling, the sky is falling! SMH, LMAO.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Glenn

Hey Glenn, do reply back. I’d love to hear your take on it. But, like most, you won’t. Have a nice day 🙂

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago

Crikets!

captain gort
1 month ago

I think you are more correct than wrong. The global house of cards is quivering.

chris
1 month ago

Billy Bob “Thronton”‘s weekly political rant.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Dude, have you checked your 401K lately. I suggest you not act like a deer in headlights and save whats left. Or, dont listen, and ride it in to the burn pile. Which will you be?

Think of this ironic scenario;saying, i should have listened to Billy Bob on the Travel Forum at your next cocktail party where you’re all languishing with, “oh it will come back”. Instead of, man my 410K took a real beating! Which will youbbe, Hmm?

Spike
1 month ago

“If your [sic] not in cash, get there. This one will be an [sic] crash for the ages.”

If and when we have a “crash for the ages” there will be no financial hiding place. Stocks will crash. Highly leveraged companies who have been living on “free money” doled out by the Fed and US government (and other governments WW) will not be able to pay off their loans and bonds. Currencies would collapse with their “paper only” value and make today’s inflation rates look puny making cash as bad a place as any other as it will rapidly lose value at a much greater pace than it is doing today.

I’m not predicting this, just giving my opinion of what a “crash for the ages”
would produce.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Spike

They say dont ever ‘time the market’, well boys and girls, here is your chance to do just that. This one will be like shooting fish in a barrel, not pretty by any means, but put your big boy pants on and pony up to the bar. Be ready, there will be fortunes to be made.

B N S
1 month ago

Well Said!

Jerry
1 month ago

Let me know when RV Travel runs a story critical of socialism.

I’m sure I’ll be waiting a long time

Rick K
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry

Took the words right out of my mouth. Well said!

Last edited 1 month ago by Rick K
Jim Prideaux
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry

Maybe they will if some socialists get together to build a socialist campground.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Prideaux

They already did its called the District of Columbia!!!

DebB
1 month ago

LOL Good one and the giggle that I needed. Thanks.

Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry

If you’re critical of socialism now, you’re labeled as racist, bigot, fake news, and a thousand other labels. It’s becoming illegal to disagree with authority. Remind you of anything?
I remember when the Left railed against “Labels”. Now it’s their weapon of choice.

Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

If you are scared of “socialism” just wait until your fascist leaders take over again.
The right wing has to always put a “label” on everything they want their minions to attack. Just listen to Tucker as he spouts out his dog whistle buzz words.
They will then show up here by the pro-Putin supporters.

Gary W.
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

Lol.

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry

So True!

Bob M
1 month ago

The news media is ruining America.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

No, they think they are. A growing number of us see that, as evidenced by the comments sprinkled throughout this forum.

However, there are some who still don’t know, and never will. For those sad sacks, your going to suffer with all of us, so start pointing the fingers, its what you do best. At least we get to say, “well what did ya think was gonna happen”.

Gary Ashmore
1 month ago

News outlets of all kinds lost their integrity long ago. If they ever had it at all. Everyone of them tells us whatever they fell like. Facts are fictional. It has been learned that even the famous Walter Cronkite stretched the truth or openly lied routinely. I do not fully believe any outlet. Even photography is routinely altered with photoshop soft wear. Politics money and greed rule the world. If you do not see something with your own eyes, question it.

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary Ashmore

The old expression of ” take what you hear and see with a pinch of salt” is even more apt now.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary Ashmore

They still know how to spell.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Bob p
28 days ago
Reply to  Gary Ashmore

Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.

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