RVers not happy with editor’s essay, video

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By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR

In the last couple of weeks I have been bombarded with comments on this website and on YouTube about a couple of subjects I’ve discussed lately.

A BLM campground in Arizona.

Last week it was regarding my essay about why we no longer need public campgrounds. I didn’t say we should get rid of them, in fact I concluded by saying I wish they would never go away. I just said that most of today’s RVs are equipped with their own toilets, so the necessity of camping where there was an available toilet (in a campground) is no longer a requirement of where we stay like many years ago. 

I don’t think that was one of my best writing efforts because quite a few readers thought I was advocating doing away with public campgrounds. Dozens of readers fired off comments telling me that I was an old geezer, living in the past, and that my “rich” friends and I who stayed in RV parks were “not camping,” and shame on me for saying we didn’t need public campgrounds anymore.


Designed for “camping” or mobile living?

JUST VISIT AN RV SHOW and look at the RVs. Are most of them made for roughing it? I don’t think so! It’s now common to see fifth wheel trailers with two bathrooms, two bedrooms, built-in fireplace, dishwasher and washing machine! I say these RVs and many others are made for living, not camping: they’re mobile homes! I bet the small, basic, teardrop-type trailers and tent trailers which, indeed, are designed for “camping” represent only a tiny percentage of total RV sales.

The fact is, what more and more RVers want these days is a comfy mobile house they can hook up to utilities to live in seasonally or year round — one they can move periodically to see the country. Many sold their traditional homes to travel full-time. With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day (and for the next 12 years), you can bet this type of RVer will be more common and will increasingly fill up RV parks and public campgrounds in the years ahead. I plead guilty: I’m one of them.

Just a modest camper for roughing it in a little out of the way Forest Service campground? Or a nice place to live instead of a traditional house?

THE VIDEO
Then there was the video I posted on YouTube a couple of weeks ago about the crummy KOA campsite where I stayed in Springville, Utah, the one with my neighbor’s sewer drain right outside my front door. Did the angry mob ever burn up their keyboards on that one — the last I looked, the video had drawn more than 850 comments.

“Stupid you, you should have boondocked,” wrote at least 100 commenters. “You deserved that crummy site for staying at a KOA,” others wrote.

Before telling me what I should have done, I wish these people would have considered I might have been there for a reason other than having a meaningful experience with nature. The fact is, I had an appointment nearby the next morning. “You should have boondocked” many said (and not always nicely)! So I guess I should have driven 50 miles to find some public land, then parked for a night, then got up at 4 a.m. to make it to my appointment? Others said I should have stayed at Walmart. Well, you know, I worked hard my whole life, lived frugally, saved what I could, and I choose today not to stay in parking lots (I did for many years when I was a struggling writer). Yes, many RVers do stay in such places, and for their own good reasons (another subject for another day), it’s just not for me. It’s my choice, not some stranger’s who doesn’t know me.

“You should have complained to the office,” others barked. “It’s people like you with your million dollar rigs (mine cost $85,000 used) who support these RV parks, then don’t complain when you get a site like this. You got what you deserved.”

A “lovely” placement of my neighbor’s sewer hose, a few steps from my RV’s front door.

No, I didn’t complain to the office. I chose instead to make a video about the unsanitary site that has now been seen by more than 100,000 people. Should I have simply complained to the work campers at the desk, who might not have even passed along my complaint to the owners? As is, KOA’s corporate office called me, aware of how the video exposed this badly designed campsite. Its spokesman’s explanation, to my disappointment, was mostly about how proud KOA is of its new patio sites at other parks. 

FYI: I am not on an anti-KOA mission, but once upon a time if you stayed at a KOA you could expect a clean, safe and predictably acceptable experience. Far too often I don’t find that true anymore, and that bothers me. KOA is the largest chain of commercial campgrounds in the world and should be setting the bar high for other RV park operators.

It amazes me how so many people think how they use their RV should be the standard for everyone else. Do these people not understand that each of us buy our RVs for our own purposes — some for weekend outings with the kids, some for summer vacations, some for full-time living, some to live in on temporary work assignments? Some buy an RV to travel to and from their kids’ amateur sporting events. Some boondock in the desert or forest. Some use their RVs to tailgate at football games, to use while hunting, or attend NASCAR races. Some buy a toy hauler to hole up near sand dunes to ride their ATVs. Others buy an RV to plop on a piece of land to live in year-round.

Some stay in RV parks, some stay in remote public campgrounds, others head out to the boondocks to camp on our beautiful public lands. Others are perfectly happy holing up in rest areas, truck stops or parking lots. “Why pay $40 to stay in a crowded RV park for 12 hours just to sleep?” they ask, which makes sense.

Everybody has their way. Isn’t that what RVing is supposed to be — living your life the way you want to live it?

Why do so many people think their way is the only way, and then criticize others because they do things differently?

Oh, how I appreciate intelligent comments to what I write, even those that believe I am wrong or off-base, which I surely am at times. But people who are basically clueless and spout their ignorance — too often in mean-spirited ways —I have no respect for them. I’m pretty sure some of them will show up to comment below.


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Nick
Nick

Hi Chuck: Just thought I’d Chime in too. Really enjoy all your comments, keep on writing your articles. The people before me have said it all. I just wanted you to know I’m one more. Thanks.

Teri
Teri

I stay at KOAs more often than I thought I would. As a female solo RVer traveling between jobs, they are usually predictable in quality – and as you mentioned, mom and pop operations. Some keep the resident trailers in the back and overnighters up front. I had an issue in West TX where my a/c went out, the local RV tech coukdnt fix it and the owners let me stay overnight in an air conditioned basic camping cabin (no bath/kitchen). I have a small RV and usually request a corner site to avoid problems with neighboring RVs. Everything has… Read more »

dennis
dennis

Hi Chuck, liked the article, I wouldn’t loose much sleep over the “my way or the highway comments”, as I see it it’s jus a sign of the times, and this bad behavior emulates more of the big problem, no respect for other peoples opinion, entitlement issues abound in this country, and us old geezers are not done yet, and we control more wealth and power in this country than many other generations, “we earned it!”, as for big corporations, our age group calls them out when we feel the need to let them know about our dissatisfaction, we are… Read more »

Rory Roberts
Rory Roberts

I’m probably jumping the gun, by a week. But Re: your article on small vs large, there are some things I agree with and others I disagree with. To be honest, it was your decision to start “squatting” for a month at a time. I know FT RV’ers, who travel in 42′ and 45′ rigs and very seldom stay in a RV park or resort more then a week before moving on to new adventures, sights, and a new area to explore. I myself have done some wild boondocking, but after a couple of days, I’m ready to move on.… Read more »

John Daynes
John Daynes

Chuck – you are one of the very few writers that I can honestly say that I respect! I’ve got to give you HUGE kudos for your patience toward the idiotic, stupid, and uninformed comments made by people who are clearly unable to tell which end of the toilet paper to use first! I’ve been an avid reader of RV Travel for two plus years, and I still completely enjoy it! I’m an avid boondocker, but I try to follow your example of giving each person their space to do what their heart desires with their RV. Thanks, and keep… Read more »

kamwick
kamwick

Ditto! You took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for expressing so well what many supporters are probably feeling. What really got me were the folks who thought Chuck was advocating getting rid of campgrounds. I guess “read AND comprehend” isn’t exactly common practice nowadays with some folks.

Kat
Kat

I agree! Chuck tells it like it is. He doesn’t live in a dream world. And for those who said he should have boon docked instead of staying at a KOA, do they really feel he was unjustified in expecting a decent, safe place to park his rig? That is absurd. He paid for his space in good faith and should be able to expect something decent for his hard earned cash outlay. Society is lowering its standards too often. People are getting away with too much. I have been burned by two contractors in the past two years and… Read more »

Tina GAllagher
Tina GAllagher

Precisely. You’ve hit the nail on the head for so many faithful readers. While I don’t and haven’t agreed with everything you’ve written, RV parks used to be something to be proud of and stay in. Sadly, that single KOA is not “unique.” And I’m learning from you what I want to see in a park before I go there. You never advocated getting rid of dispersed or free campgrounds. I wish people would treat those campgrounds with respect; there are pigs who are endangering it for others. So you paid $85k for your rig- you earned the money, you… Read more »

Summrbrz
Summrbrz

I just started reading the newsletter, last month, and I think you are great! I understood what you were saying (don’t understand why others didn’t) and I agree with you, but even if I didn’t, I still respect your right to write!
#keepgoingChuck!

Michael
Michael

America continues to become homogenized. Go to an IHOP anywhere in the country and you get the same experience. Go to a Kohl’s department store (you pick the place). It’s the same as any other Kohl’s. The list goes on (Office Depot, Home Depot, Best Buy). National chains bring consistency (and tedium). They also tend to drive smaller stores out of business. KOA attempts to do the same thing, with much looser standards than any other franchisers. As a full-time RVer who has been doing this for many years, my opinion of KOA is also one of consistency. While KOA… Read more »

Carol Ann Boteler
Carol Ann Boteler

Chuck, you do a fine job. Please don’t let the negatives get to you. There are far more friendliest out here. Your article had something to say, which I agree with, and you said it well. I’m sorry for those who misunderstood you — seems there are always people who are determined to misunderstand. Keep up the good work. I like to read your opinions whether I agree with them or not. So keep ’em coming. Thanks. (I’ll send a check when I can. )

James I
James I

Chuck, I have been reading your newsletter for a long time. And in the past I ordered quite a few things from your bookstore. I wish you still had it.
Your writing is first rate and thought provoking. I totally agree with your assessment of RV parks and the poor quality of the RV’s made today. Keep up the good fight.

Seann
Seann

“KOA is the largest chain of commercial campgrounds in the world and should be setting the bar high for other RV park operators.”

It is too bad that KOA has become slave to the almighty dollar and now taking anyone that wants to fly KOA banner in as a park.

RetSgt53
RetSgt53

Chuck, I agree with your article and your follow-up. I have stayed at KOA’s and Yogi Bear Parks with the same problem with the sewer hookup. Maybe, the parks have not caught up to the growing number of campers and I suspect they made more sites to attract more campers. Thereby, making the sites smaller and less attractive. If you stay one or two nights that might not be a problem for some, but I do not return to those campgrounds. Camping is a lifetime experience and great memories are always a good thing. Keep up the good work. I… Read more »

Karen Carter
Karen Carter

Too bad the KOA rep. was as tone deaf as the United Airlines CEO. Amazing the larger these groups or corporations get the quicker they seem to forget who they serve and who created their success (their customers)….
Too bad. Chuck keep up the good fight and shine a light on these issues. It is appreciated. We RVers need a voice.

Rory M Roberts
Rory M Roberts

Chuck, I wanted to Thank you, but the 52 others before me have said it all. Everything you said in your article was thought provoking and true. I’m not anti-KOA but until corporate does something to clean up the dumps, I will not stay at any KOA. Keep up the good work and ignore the rude haters. Anonymity has given them a voice, although a very rude one. Upon meeting some of these rude idiots, they would not be able to look you in the eyes. Once again thank you and keep that keyboard hot!!!

Ralph
Ralph

Keep up the good work Chuck. I agree with you and support you. That’s why I have sent in contributions these last two years.

Total Eclipse Camping
Total Eclipse Camping

If anyone is looking for a spot for your RV during the total solar eclipse this August, check this place out in Oregon! http://www.totaleclipsecamping.com
The world will go dark for over 2 minutes, where will you be?

Bill
Bill

Been camping since I was a youngster and Rv’ing since 1975, so have seen it all and have used every type of camping apparatus….your commentary is spot on and the main reason I read, and financially support, your writings. Keep fighting the good fight so my grandchildren can enjoy this pastime and truly see America!

Ronald
Ronald

Hey Chuck,stop the presses!! I just googled cranky fat cat rv owner,and geuss what? your picture appeared! Just joking pal,hope I made you smile,John’Duke”Wayne would be proud of a straight shooter,happy camping pilgrim.

Glen & Bette Horsmann - livin the good life...finally... life
Glen & Bette Horsmann - livin the good life...finally... life

Chuck, I’m a parrot to all those, listed above, who applaud your writing, and deeply appreciate your efforts to improve RV’ing for everybody. And as you know our World of camping and Rv leisure time has changed, tremendously!

So keep on clucking, and crowing, about the principles that most of us live by; one of which is “The Golden Rule”, in its positive form!

And keep up your writing…for the sake of us all!

Larry
Larry

Chuck,

I look forward to your essays every week and appreciate your efforts in trying to make the RV life better for everyone. Keep up the great work and keep the narrative going.

My wife and I are preparing now for our first cross-country adventure and will be staying in all types of parks: state, national, and private including KOA and Good Sam. I’ll be writing a blog as we go (elandemsadventure.blogspot.com) if you are interested in following our experiences.

Lynn Hudgens
Lynn Hudgens

It isn’t you Chuck. We seem to live in a day & time when civility has “gone out the window,.” From road rage to bad behavior in large retail chain stores, courtesy and being polite are not practiced.. It is the same -minded folks that are rude in all venues.

Stick to your game plan of improving the RV industry. Sewer problems don’t apply to just campsites….sometimes they apply to the humans in them. (their mouths especially). Hopefully the rest of us can set an example that will have a good impact.

Carl
Carl

I don’t stay at campsites but I’m lucky to be mobile enough with a reliable rig. I can think of many circumstances when I might prefer a campsite–arriving very late in the night, as the author noted because the site is near, say, the VA, or some other city errand, waiting on my tow vehicle to get repaired, or maybe after a month of January propane bills I want to get some cheap juice, or maybe you just like campsites, I wouldn’t criticize anyone going there. But regardless of site preference, no campsite, boondocking or paved site, should have unsanitary… Read more »

Mike Sherman
Mike Sherman

Let the boondockers flourish, that opens up much-needed RV campsites in parks!

Frederick Mondragon
Frederick Mondragon

Thank you for all the good writing and info you pass on to us. We look forward to your articles every saturday 🙂

Rey Lavalle
Rey Lavalle

Ditto, brother. Chuck’s got my sincere admiration & a donation or three.

Megan smith
Megan smith

We do too! People just like to bitch these day and I agree, rudeness is the thing these days! Keep writing and putting out the info! No matter where you stay I still read! Lol

Jim
Jim

Chuck,

I couldn’t agree more with you. I try to avoid the “my way or the highway” people as much as possible…I just wish it more possible!

Glenda
Glenda

I agree with all the others who have commended you for your valuable service to RVers. I always enjoy your newsletters. As to the article about no longer needing public campgrounds, I don’t see how anyone could interpret your comments as suggesting that the campgrounds be done away with. They obviously weren’t paying attention to your actual words. Keep up the good work.

John
John

I’m currently in a very large KOA in Okeechobee, FL. Nice park. However the water, sewer and electric are all grouped together, and many, like my site have an elevated sewer pipe that makes it very difficult to disconnect without spilling some. Fortunately they run at the back property line.
Keep up the good work on reporting problems in the RV industry.

Bee O'Neil
Bee O'Neil

Keep up the great work Chuck! Tell it like it is and for those who can’t handle it….so be it. Fortunately, most RVers are great people enjoying their dream, and we certainly are. After retiring in ’02, I worked as a RV Service Tech seasonally for 10 years at eight different shops around the country. It was a great experience getting to meet people from all over the country and hear about their travels and backgrounds. I would say that 99% of RVers great people enjoying a great lifestyle. Then there were the ‘few’ that I was glad I wouldn’t… Read more »

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury

Bee, most of the RV industry leaders are not RVers. I bet only a small percentage of those who build RVs have ever spent a night in one in a campground.

Bee
Bee

It would be interesting to know the statistics detailing the knowledge/experience/background of the people involved in the RV & campground design/repair/functionality…..then again, maybe not!

Joe Allen
Joe Allen

Chuck, as always, your damned if you do and damned if you don’t. My wife and I full timed for 6 years and just recently came back from our buck list trip to Alaska. Believe me when I say, we have seen the good and the bad when it comes to RV parks, no matter if it is a KOA, a GOOD SAM or Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s park. I was one who commented on your video and can wholly agree with what you showed and stated. A sewer hose in front of my door would be unacceptable as well.… Read more »

Don C
Don C

We just returned from a KOA park that we found to be very good. We were there with a group of Travelling Elks and were concerned as our last experience with KOA parks was much like the one you described, Chuck. I wish that KOA management would realize that they have a problem with some of their parks and get them to either come up to the a better standard or else drop them from their organization.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury

Don, some of the KOAs are really nice. But some are dreadful even dumpy. The dreadful ones really need a major makeover. If not, I agree with you that they should be dumped from the system.

Matt Murdoch
Matt Murdoch

Amazing that a KOA corporate repreresentative considers a
sewer pipe and drain at your door step in keeping with KOA facility and service standards. I am a KOA member and have camped at several KOA campgrounds which were well maintained. Thanks for the Intel on this particular unit and your entertaining & informative newsletter.

Al
Al

Chuck,
The articles of yours that I have read have all seemed to have one purpose, to improve the world of RVing. Thanks for being a vocal advocate for a poorly represented constituency.

Duane Rice
Duane Rice

…..Keep up the good work Chuck….I do enjoy all of you comments about rv parks, the recalls on new rigs and follow your travels across the good ol USA…..We have traveled the states for 11 years now and can surely concur with your viewpoints….Look forward to your newsletter each week and is very informative for us retired folk.

Jim Jenkins
Jim Jenkins

Chuck I hope you continue with your writing and personal views on parks and other things. It is refreshing to read something that is not written to be politically correct. I’m retired military and have been camping since the late 60’s. We camped around Europe in a tent, and have had some type of RV since early 70’s. We’ve camped next to the same type of people that complain on your newsletters. And I’ll tell you , they are a lot more distressing than a damn sewer pipe near your front door. So continue with your good work, plus I… Read more »

Sherry
Sherry

I was lucky enough to discover your newsletter soon after I decided to become a full-time RVer. In my younger days, I tent camped from my car, backpacked to spectacular places like the Napali Coast in Hawaii, and canoed to peaceful spots on scenic rivers to sleep under the stars. I’m 70 now and need more comfortable accommodations! Plus I want to travel North America to see all the places I missed while employed. You have provided a “university” education in RVing for me! I eagerly look forward to sitting down every Saturday morning and reading your informative pages. You… Read more »

Tony
Tony

It is amazing the liberty that people take with insulting or downright offensive comments-hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. Thank you for your article-I found it informative and well written. We have a 43′ diesel pusher, and I can think of half a dozen reasons why staying at a KOA (or other similar accommodation) makes sense when on the road. I fully agree with you that since KOA is the first name in chain campgrounds, their customers should be able to count on a basic set of standards. We’ve stayed at wonderful KOAs, and a couple down right scary… Read more »

Joan
Joan

As with most others, I did understand what you were getting at in your article. I have been a fan since the paper newsletter days. I am 76 and still enjoy traveling with friends in my Class C . Keep up the good work.

Rovinaspect
Rovinaspect

Keep on writing, we have stayed at some nasty pkaces not by choice at times due to emergencies, and there are always those RVers that look down their noses at others. so many opininated, nasty, narrow minded busy bodies. Many people stay in RV parks close to medical facilities for medical treatments, cancer, life support or a dying family member and have no choices. So to all those judgmental people , karma. .

Dennis
Dennis

Chuck…I have never seen an article from you that was not, in one way or another, focused upon improving everyone’s RV experience. Keep doing exactly what you have been doing…the vast majority of us, your readers, are behind you 100%!

Philip Green
Philip Green

I agree with your comments about the different ways people use RV ‘s and motorbikes. All are legitimate and nobody should disparage one over the other. I have backpacked and slept on the ground, tent-camped with the family, and now have a “luxury” motor home. At our age and health, the luxuries are becoming necessities!

Mike
Mike

Anymore, it seems the comment section of a video or article becomes a cesspool of negativity; many are attacks by keyboard warriors that never learned how to disagree without being disagreeable. These types of negative commenters are met with my indifference.

I learn a lot here. I say carry on, Chuck. You are appreciated.

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

No Chuck, don’t feel rejected. You were right on, last week and this. A MESSAGE TO KOA, with respect, perhaps their program of periodic vetting needs further attention.

Greg
Greg

I knew what you were trying to say, Chuck. Some people see what they wish to see and never really learn anything. For us, we use the motorhome to see the country and do many, many other things. How one uses theirs is their business, as it is my business how I use it. Good work, keep it up!

Rod juranek
Rod juranek

We too have found similar issues with older KOA parks. Tightly spaced, noisey and children not respecting your space. We avoid them at all cost. In order to check the rates you have to complete your registration. Never again.

Electricbuzz
Electricbuzz

I am also a believer that KOA campgrounds were supposed to be the cream of the crop of campgrounds. But I have come to find that they are just a franchisor. They sell their name for advertising only. When you have a complaint, their corporate office will likely tell you that each individual campground is independently owned and operated. They must not have many requirements to become a KOA. They have no power over the cream of the campgrounds. Sour cream.

Steve
Steve

It’s sad, but certain professional media types and politicians are teaching our youth the way to disagree with a view point is to completely destroy and defame the opposition in social media. It happens every day. Chuck, consider the source when reading replays from them. They are truly sad individuals. I enjoy my first cup of coffee every Saturday morning with RVTravel. After 10 years of total RV enjoyment, You tell/teach me something I didn’t know.

Nick
Nick

Very well put.

john & lana Stahl
john & lana Stahl

I enjoy your articles, including last week. Keep on keeping on….

John
John

Chuck, we live in an rv park in Killeen TX because our son in overseas and we are here to help his wife and kids. The campground is about $350 per month plus electric, has concrete pads, and the owner operators are extremely friendly. Our 5th wheel cost about $30,000 used and we plan to travel some as well as boondock when we can. Sorry for the unpleasant comments as we enjoy your newsletter. BTW the campground we are in is Casita CG in Killeen,TX and has a mix of military, travel workers etc. some who have been there 3years… Read more »

Philip Kuhn
Philip Kuhn

You were spot on in your rebuttal. I am so tired of these self appointed judges in the RV hobby, that I have completely given up on the forums for information.

Keep on doing what you have done so well for so long. You will always have one faithful reader.

Rusty Austin
Rusty Austin

Exactly. This is one of the few RV internet things that is consistent, well written, and enjoyable. I haven’t participated in any forums for over a year. We live in the age of the Kardashians I guess.

Curtis McRee
Curtis McRee

Live and let live, that is my motto. I live as I please and never question why someone else doe it different. Life is a Blessing, one of our freedoms.
I am 82 years old, and with Gods Blessing I will park my R.V. where I feel like it. My mother always said if you can’t say something good about someone. keep quiet.

RonJ
RonJ

Had it happened to them at that KOA – the complainers would turn into whiners – run to Facebook and trash everything and everyone! Thanks for taking the time to publish informative and relative RV matters.