RVing today is a far cry from what it was a decade or two ago


    RVing today is a far cry from what it was a decade or two ago

    By Chuck Woodbury

    What does this scene have to do with RVing? At first glance, you may say nothing. But I think it does, or at least it can.

    I took this photo of a suburban housing development from my window seat on a Boeing 737 as the plane let down into Philadelphia. The thought struck me that 40 years ago, the same area was probably rural, a few farmhouses here and there, but mostly wide-open, unoccupied farmland. People who lived there lived in the country where life moved slow, neighbors were few, and when they gathered it was at the corner cafe, where everybody knew their name and their dogs, too.

    Bye and bye, the local chamber of commerce decided to promote the area as a fine place to live, away from the problems of crowded, decaying cities. “Live in your dream home where the air is pure, where there’s room to breathe, and where everybody knows your name.”

    And, one by one, people came. They loved it — the freedom, the peace, the clean air. “We never locked our door,” one woman once told me who lived in such a place in rural Missouri. “We never worried about anyone stealing anything. Sometimes we’d come home and somebody would have left a homemade pie in the refrigerator.”

    FAST FORWARD 15 YEARS. A home developer arrives and begins building affordable tract homes. He builds 60 at first, which sell quickly, then 60 more. A freeway is being built nearby; residents can live in the country and easily commute to the city to work. And then another developer arrives, and another. The general store and corner cafe give way to 7-Elevens, McDonald’s and Taco Bells. Walmart arrives in the next town and decimates Main Street. The freeway is gridlocked half the day.

    Before long, “rural” becomes “suburb.”

    I watched this happen growing up 20 miles from Los Angeles, moving there as a child to a town of 4,000, leaving 16 years later when the population had swelled to 60,000. The orange groves were gone. The hillside where my buddies and I played became luxury view homes.

    Could the local chamber in Pennsylvania continue today to promote country living as it had before? “Live in your dream home where the air is pure, where there’s room to breathe, and where everybody knows your name.”

    And here is where I see a similarity with RVing: The RV industry continues to promote the freedom of RVing, even though another half-million RVs are unleashed onto the highways and into campgrounds every year. Years ago it was absolutely appropriate to promote RVing as a way to “go where you want when you want.” I know, I did it! I didn’t make a single camping reservation for more than 25 years. 

    The RV industry continues to promote the “freedom” idea, but it’s just not true, any more than living in the subdivision above is still akin to living in the “peaceful countryside.”

    Hershey RV show
    Buyers were out in force at last month’s Hershey RV Show. More than 60,000 people attended.

    The population of the Unites States when I began RVing in the early 1980s was about 230 million. Since then it has grown to about 330 million. Those additional 100 million people are now sharing our public lands — our National and State Parks, National Forests, even the wide-open spaces of the desert Southwest. Anyone with a modern RV can easily live full-time in it (that wasn’t easy to do even 25 years ago), and increasingly that’s what they are doing; these people fill RV parks once available to drop-in overnighters.

    Is it any wonder it’s harder now to find a place to stay on the spur of the moment?

    In 1982, the year I bought my first RV, a total of 140,000 RVs were shipped to dealers. Last year, 504,000 were shipped. In all those years, I’d guess the number of available campsites has barely increased.  

    RVing today is a far cry from what it was a decade or two ago
    RV parks are often so packed with long-term residents that there’s no room for last-minute drop-ins.

    MY POINT IS THAT RVing TODAY is not the same as it was a few decades ago. It can still be wonderful, just as living in a crowded suburb can be wonderful. But the lifestyle in both cases is far from what it was before the crowds arrived.

    Yet the industry does nothing of significance to address where to stay with the RVs that it continues to spew out in record numbers. Today, campground and RV park reservations are often required – often months, even years in advance – to secure a place to stay in popular tourist areas. A recent RVtravel.com poll showed that two-thirds of the more than 2,000 readers who responded make reservations all the time or most of the time rather than just “winging it.” 

    Here’s something the RV and camping industry associations could do, but don’t: Many small town entrepreneurs propose building RV parks in their communities. But misinformed locals complain to the city council: “We don’t want those lowlifes here!” And so the council denies the building permit. Why doesn’t the RV industry dispatch a skilled representative to the city council meeting to sell them on the benefits of having the park? They don’t! They are too shortsighted.

    My point is that RVing has changed. How and where we use RVs has changed. We need to address those changes or our RV lifestyles will become as clogged as our suburbs and freeways. If change does not come, RVing will become increasingly challenging and eventually not worth the effort. At that point, RVers will sell their rigs and buy condos. Some RVtravel.com readers report they already have.

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    Billie Kucharo

    Makes me very sad.


    As usual Chuck, you have hit the Rv nail right on the proverbial head! We’ve been in one Rv or another since 19-oh-my-God … (1979??) We now have a 2017 29′ 5th wheel & 2016 Ford f-250. In 2009 we took an 11 month jaunt cross country – great trip, but the planning was mind-boggling. We had to make reservations for every single stop. If I recall, the planning took almost as long as the the actual trip, if not longer – CRAZY!! This past year we took a 5-week getaway in Northern AZ, we just wanted to go one… Read more »


    Seeing the lead picture, and having left the Philadelphia suburbs for fulltime RVing, my initial reaction was there are too many people. We saw the area around our house grow with new developments that increased traffic congestion. My cousin, who has lived in Florida for over 30 years, recently told me about the numbers of people moving to Florida. These are not only RVers. A couple of years ago I had never heard of The Villages. Now that I know what it is, I am astounded. And it is continuing to grow. On the other hand, I have heard of… Read more »


    We just completed a ten week 11000 mile RV trip from Florida to Idaho and back. Most of the time was spent driving. Most nights were in RV parks, packed in like sardines. High prices…view of my neighbor’s sewer hose. State Parks are no longer a deal. Same prices as RV parks, with slightly larger sites…usually. I can’t even stay in my home state of Florida any more. The Keys are booked a year in advance. No RV parking signs everywhere. Sure not like the pictures in Camping World advertising. 🙂 We have a 21 foot Roadtrek. We thought we… Read more »


    Lots of good comments. I think that the answer is that we are the consumers and control significant “spend” that’s required for any solution to be successful. Escapees has a model where members invested in parks and worked to improve their parks for long term folks and provided space for travelers. It seems the momentum has waned and needs a kickstart for growth. Their model allowed for people to sell to get their original investment back. The Airbnb type solution is interesting, but probably won’t serve enough people to be a long term solution. I think we need to consolidate… Read more »

    Eric Meslin

    Family commitments forced me to make a detailed plan, and then follow that plan with almost 100% reservations over a one month time frame this summer. We stayed with a Harvest Host for one night, but it was very warm and no one was happy. I’m still hearing about it. This originally came about because a National Forest reservation fell through due to flooding. We twiddled our thumbs at some locations and wished we could extend at others, but with reservations we had to stick to the plan or pay additional cancellation/change fees. I only had one reservation at a… Read more »

    Retired firefighter Tom

    Wow! Lots of comments. I, too, started camping in 1981 when our only child was 2 yeas old. [he and his family are also RVers.] Back then we only made reservations at places like Disney World. Everything else was ‘as you go’ with no problems. The lack of campsites became worse about 2014 and now finding a spot for the night is extremely difficult even if you call early in the morning. Many campgrounds are full. I hope the situation changes – soon. Approaching 74 years of age I certainly don’t need the stress of not finding a place to… Read more »


    There is no doubt that the RV life is not like it used to be, with good and bad things that have come with progress.

    As far as the marketing needed to encourage communities to open small RV locations, that comes down to not having the skills or the motivation needed to do that marketing. Sadly, if it is not profitable, then there is no incentive to train a department that is dedicated to advocating for RVers.

    Renee G

    Chuck, thanks for posting the article. We are seasonal campers and travelers and so far we’ve noticed that the full hookup campgrounds in our area are increasingly harder to get into. Even trying to make a reservation almost a year in advance is near impossible. On the positive side, we much prefer dispersed camping and we can usually find something in our area. The major holidays do take planning, but it’s been that way for quite some time. Our major travel is done mid to late September and we usually don’t have a problem with finding a spot at that… Read more »

    Kelly R

    Yep Chuck, times are a changin’ and I would go back to 1950 if I could. Dad started “trailer camping” then – I don’t think “RV” had been invented back then. Now I’m in a Roadtrek Class B. (I have gotten soft.) The RV industry as a whole SHOULD provide/support RV resorts and campgrounds. If I recall the PBS programs I have seen, the trolley car lines that ran through cities created amusement parks at the end of their lines to increase ridership. Railroads built Lodges at the end of or along their lines to increase ridership. Even before cars,… Read more »


    In reading all of these comments, a couple of thoughts come to mind. First, some argue that RV builders have no vested interest in CGs and therefore should not be held responsible in any way for the problems. Then again, some argue that RV builders are creating the problem and therefore should solve it. It seems to me that somewhere in the middle of these two arguments is the answer. That development you pictured is a place to start. The developer found the land and planned to build houses. But the developer needs some things-electricity, water, sewer, roads, etc. While… Read more »

    Richard Lang

    I can’t disagree with you, but I would point beyond the manufacturers to the organizations that say they represent the RV communities – FMCA, Escapees, Good Sam, Passport America and the rest. Many offer excellent benefits to the individual RV owner, but fail to take on representing their membership as a body and the RV community as a whole. After that, those of us IN the organizations could be seen to be shirking a proactive stance in the matter. If we leave it for others and don’t start pressing up, then nothing will happen. Get involved! Demand that the dues… Read more »

    Land Shark

    I grew up in the Philly area, and trust me, 40 years ago very little of the immediate suburbs were considered “country”. Philly was always a neighborhood centered community and in the time between 1945 and 1965, or so when the suburbs were built up that tradition continued. I noticed how you still managed to fit in a dig against Camping World. This is a regular thing anymore. I don’t know what it is but your hatred of them is almost unhealthy. Fine, you have issues with them but do you constantly need to rail against them and their CEO?… Read more »


    I like Chuck’s idea of hitting them in the financial pocket. What does that really mean to most rvers who are retired? How many of us are invested in mutual funds that are contrary to the subject at hand? Most people don’t check or the information is so convoluted that you can’t get to the bottom of the file as funds are sold and purchased. People are against low minimum wage but are invested in funds that support those companies known for paying minimum wage. People complain about CW and then go and shop at their stores. As Chuck said,… Read more »

    Laurel Deveso

    We are some of those full-time RVers clogging up your parks. That’s because we simply can’t afford to live any other way. My disability and my husband’s divorce wiped out our retirement funds and now we live on SSI – and we are far from the only ones we’ve met over the past year. Hopefully those RVers not able to get a reservation at least still have a home to stay in – plenty of us no longer have that option. And you and I both know it is going to get waaayy worse, not better.

    Mark B

    Does anybody else feel guilty? From ages 18-64, I drove tiny vehicles that were as fuel efficient as possible. My Jetta diesels all achieved 48+ combined mileage and when the fed stop delaying the date for cleaner diesel fuel, diesels became better stewards of our environment. I slept on the ground (tents) until this year, with the exception of two years of a novel fiberglass (1972 Compact Jr) TT that could be towed behind a small vehicle. I traveled alone, with friend(s) and then with family. Now, at age 65, I have a gas guzzling Class C (yes, there are… Read more »


    Feel guilty, that is a hands down no. My first car could hold 8 people, was a V8, took leaded gas and was made of steel.

    Bob Schilling

    Chuck, I’ve read a large chunk of the comments you’ve received so far and I just have to comment on a theme I’ll paraphrase.. “Remember, they are a business, they need to make money and it’s OK if that’s the number one measure of how they operate.” This headset that making money is all that matters, as much money as possible, devoid of a thought for working together with your fellow humans / customers to meet everyone’s needs, is just wrong headed. It’s easy to witness this happening in big industry where workers are becoming viewed as parts to be… Read more »

    Mark B

    Eureka, I think I have another solution:

    Amend the Federal Highway Aid act so that to receive federal assistance for interstate roadway interchanges (new or rebuild) there is requirement for every 6 motels built at a single interstate exit, the local establishments must acquire property, build and service an RV overnight area equivalent to their total number of rooms divided by 100, within two exchanges either direction. (We don’t necessarily want to be right behind 6 motels, Denny’s, McDonalds and 4 gas stations do we?)

    Mark B

    Chuck, when you are done pounding you war drums about Camping World and the RV builders, you should focus on a real problem. Boeing and others keep building more and more planes. At the same time, airlines keep putting the seats closer together and charging higher fares. Sometimes it costs $600 for a seat, and then I have to pay $50 for a bag… if I can even get on the flight. In 1980, I used to be able to fly from city to city and often stretch out and sleep across the whole row. I could bring as much… Read more »

    Renee G

    I applaud Chuck for being persistent in point out the poor quality of RV’s built today, the financing racket, and the monopoly of Camping World. Leave the cost an airline ticket and problems with that industry to someone else.


    About the time that those crowded hillsides were rural ranch land, the population of the USA was around 1,500,00. No one seems to want to address the continually GROWING problem of

    Gayle Hutchings

    Camping or RVing used to be preferred for a less costly way to travel with your family and now with the shortage of campground sites without a reservation it makes it hard to even consider that option. Sometimes you would like to just go where you want and stop where you want but having to make reservations don’t always allow for that. If you have never been to a place and would like to stay a little longer you may not be able to because you did not reserve the extra time. As some comments say the closest RV Park… Read more »

    Elaine Ashton

    Rod — you hit the nail on the head … I sure would LOVE to her more conversation on the subject of overpopulation — or do we wait for the civil war that is building?

    John Hiler

    Corporate is now beginning to control the RV and the RV Park market. Welcome to Corporate Amerika where every corporation has a vote of more…No big money in excess rv spaces…

    Jimmy Cornett

    As the new manager of Shadrack Campground.com in Bristol, Tn. we always have sites available. We’re always happy to accommodate those without reservations. Come check us out. We accept Passport America, Good Sam, and Military discounts. Not trying to advertise, just want to state there are campgrounds that still have availability.

    Mark B

    Best of luck. Looks like you have a captive crowd for the races, and are also along a path that many might use when traveling from Northeast corridor to some of the warmer winter locations. Website could be updated as your cancelled events in 2017 aren’t a best foot forward. Are you open year round?

    Steve C

    I work part-time at a luxury RV resort in the mountains of Colorado. This model will never be replicated in the resort areas because the land is far more valuable to a developer as a condo complex nowadays. The only reason this resort still exists is that all of the lots are individually owned, any many by folks who are not as concerned with the money as they are with having their own little piece of the mountains. We also avoid the “full-time” phenomenon due to county zoning–the lots are all zoned as vacation rentals, so they can only be… Read more »


    Look into the company called Outdoorsy that is like Air BnB. The website explains them.

    Bob Schilling

    Steve C, your idea is fantastic. An AirBnB for RVs would make great sense, might even get me to buy a space in my favorite park if I could rent it out when I was planning to be on the road. That would make the price affordable. Thanks for the idea.


    My husband and I have been camping for quite a few years now and each year it gets harder and harder to find a campsite. We travel south and north a lot and go a little west also. Mainly south or southwest to get out of the winter weather. We like having full hookups (water/sewer/electricity). A lot of sites do not have sewer. The biggest problem that we have found is that a lot of campgrounds/rv parks are reserved for full time winter patrons and they only have a few sites they leave open for the one night to weekend… Read more »

    Kim Mills

    https://www.ohioturnpike.org/travelers/service-plazas As a sunbird who spends summers away from SW Florida I use our 21 ft trailer as a “hotel room” as we travel around touring and sightseeing in other states and provinces. We enjoy nice sites that allow us to spend 4-7 nites to explore a new area but ALSO like convenient short overnight places along the drive to recharge after a long day of driving. We found the model of the OHIO turnpike RV spaces in their travel places to be perfect and wish this was possible in other states where space was made available. Currently they are… Read more »

    Scott Snider

    Great article and agree with all of it. I live in So Cal and you do have to make reservations months in advance most of the time. Also around popular tourist places. But I will say as I traveled from CA to Pittsburgh PA last year once out of Ca most place I called about an hour out and had no problem getting a place for the night in my road trip. Plus the prices dropped once out of Ca also from like $50+ a night to an average of about $22 a night with full hook ups and that… Read more »


    Great article Chuck It will get worse before it gets better. Airlines have made travel miserable and costly. Families are better off with a cheap trailer and have more fun getting to the destination. Years ago RV manufactures built resorts to encourage buying their coaches. In Colorado I have tried to get developers to build a class A rv Park and no one can get a city to approve. Great need here even for KOA IN the Denver Area I also will not buy anything from Camping World or Good Sam Bad for America . I also do not buy… Read more »

    TR Kelley

    We’re rainbirds from Western Oregon who go noodle about the Southwest for 4-5 months in the winter in a 28′ TT. Our base of operations is the Imperial Dam LTVA, but we range far and wide and rarely have trouble finding a spot, because we drive the blue highways and stay in mostly at out-of-the way National Monuments and smaller National Parks as well as State, County and even City Parks. Boondocking and primitive campgrounds are beautiful, uncrowded and free or cheap. I think a lot of RVer’s are unconsciously addicted to hookups or just naive of other options- why… Read more »


    TR Kelly, yep that’s it! Love your comment!!
    “I think a lot of RVer’s are unconsciously addicted to hookups or just naive of other options- why else would residential fridges be a thing?”

    Ali Fiddler

    Chuck et al, We are semi-retired boomers who just started Rv’ing in a TT 5 years ago. I can’t speak to “how it used to be”. I can only live in 2018 and adapt to today. We try to focus on the positives…. We embrace music festivals, but my husband needs a CPAP. Our solar panel maintains 3 batteries well. The RV Parks Review site is great for evaluating and reserving spots throughout the western USA. Casino RV parks and County Fair with hookup sites work well for us too. We are avid golfers and use the RV Golf site… Read more »

    Michael Galvin

    Here’s the solution: Reverse the disastrous growth in human population.

    Overpopulation drives the lack of RV sites AND climate change, deforestation, mass migrations, shortage of water, famines, air pollution, etc.

    Either we will reduce population in an orderly fashion or all the above problems will continue to worsen until there is global tragedy.


    How to teach young ladies to keep an aspirin between their knees? Please enlighten us as to how you would control the population.


    Human beings are mammals and our goal is the same as that of any other species, reproduction. However, being intelligent beings (supposedly) we have developed a way to maintain life beyond the natural boundaries. It’s a choice. More people or look for solutions such as vasectomies, birth control, and abortion. Very little other options exist unless you would believe Henry Kissinger who wrote a paper to the U.N., Kissinger’s 1974 Plan for Food Control Genocide.


    It takes two to “tango”!

    John Crawford

    That’s what Hitler said!

    Denton Grenke

    So, Chuck, you’ve stated the problem. Who is responsible for coming up with the solution? When Henry Ford first started building cars, when Louis Chevrolet started building cars, or Durant, or Walter Chrysler, I don’t think they saw it as their responsibility to build roads. That was somebody else’s problem. Similarly Thor, Winnebago, and the rest don’t see building RV parks as their problem. And let’s face it, as much, Chuck, as you seem to hate Camping World and their desire to make money, that’s what capitalism is all about. If they didn’t make money, they wouldn’t be in business.… Read more »

    Scott Snider

    I agree with most of what you say, but as for property taxes and school taxes. If the owner of the RV park that pays for property tax does his calculations right those taxes should be part of the space rent for the night/week/ month, so if its done right RVers are paying their share of the taxes.


    The town does collect from “transient” RV’ers. they collect property taxes from the RV park just being there and a lot of parks I have stayed in collect a local tax just like a hotel room charges a local tax. Plenty of money to be made.


    They do pay taxes as pointed out by a few already. In addition, they frequent local establishments, museums, shopping centers, auto parts, tourist traps and the like. Cities are missing out on this group of “transients” for sure all because a few rotten apples make it hard on the rest of us.


    Agree with Dick Snyder’s thoughts on the subject. I will now discuss with a ‘broad brush’ as specifics are too difficult. I also, think there are a lot of stakeholders regarding the industry – builders, owners, campground owners, etc. RVTravel needs to be careful it does not try and address all issues and end up addressing nothing very well. For many it’s all about the money – they are in business and that’s a big reality. The fact that current trailers and motorhomes are such poor quality is a huge issue and people need to be made aware of it… Read more »

    Karen Fredrickson

    Great article! We ran into this situation this fall driving back from MN to PA. Don’t even try to find a camp site in a private park on a Saturday night without a reservation! RV manufacturers will never address the problem until it starts to effect their bottom line. It seems that most are catering to the younger RVer with a family that wants to go full time as a way to save money. Maybe they can’t find affordable housing. This will only get worse. People like us who have camped for years will just drop out due to the… Read more »

    Warren Gress

    Good article, Chuck, and right on target. About a month ago I began trying to get some reservations in county and state parks in AZ for a month stay in March. Finally gave up on that when I would hit a night when there was nothing available at all, even though I was willing to move from one site to another. We then tried a senior RV park (not our first choice) without success, then finally were able to get into a sister park. It was very frustrating. Someone else commented that this isn’t the RV manufacturers’ responsibility. Maybe not,… Read more »

    Bob Stubbs

    Good points, Chuck. I live on 9 acres in the Black Hills and the last thing I want when I go “camping” is to have my neighbor a few feet away. I believe some of the comments about this being a temporary surge is true, as the baby boomers age camping will become less attractive to them and shoddy workmanship will dissuade others also. My wife and I recently purchased a 2012 travel trailer that looked like it was seldom if ever used, I know the microwave , oven and outdoor grill never were. Keep up the good fight.

    Daniel Nallon

    We have adjusted our camping experience and no longer camp on weekends or holidays. We take advantage of COEs as much as possible from Mondays to Fridays and leave before the weekenders arrive. When traveling on weekends we take advantage of the Walmarts, truck stops, along with boondocking at out of the way spots. Never had a problem finding a place to park. We own a home in the country and I don’t see us keeping the MH past five more years. We then will do all our camping in the back yard overlooking the woods that we own.

    Bert Blanchette

    Your analogy is right on. When my wife and I started RVing 40 years ago a spur of the moment Camping trip was an every weekend event. Today, in areas like SoCal, you PLAN a weekend away months in advance, with little chance of getting into the camp ground you want. 🙁

    Captn John

    The RV manufacturers cannot build a decent RV so unlikely they could have a positive influence CG building a single camp site. Supply and demand! CG owners have a long way to go on raising prices. Same with mobile techs, a good one could get a $200 minimum per visit. The local dealers are charging $145 per hour of tech time now,,, raise it up too. I live on the NC/SC boarder at the coast. Not only have winter rates gone up~~ those that used to close during winter are full of snowbirds. Although this is an area of “No… Read more »

    Marianne Edwards

    Yes, it’s a real problem, but it’s OUR problem – the RVers. We can’t expect the RV manufacturers to solve it. And we can’t expect land developers or municipalities to invest in building campsites, never mind affordable ones, without statistics to show their investment will pay off. We also can’t assume they’re aware of the supply and demand situation and potential opportunity, if we’re only grumbling about it in our own RV-related circles. We, the travelers, need to take a pro-active role to let them know. I have two suggestions: 1 – An organized marketing effort – possibly led by… Read more »

    A. W. Walker

    Marianne’s comments are very well thought-out, and her viewpoint is the same as mine; namely that manufacturers don’t have the inducement to care much, and that local governments are populated by folks who don’t care to understand what RVing is. Many years ago the Gillette company and Kodak figured out that if they made quality base products, selling at a reasonable price that they could then have a long term reliable income stream by selling blades and film. Printer makers today do a similar thing by selling $50.00 printers and $60.00 ink cartriges. If RV manufacturers were shown how they… Read more »


    This is something that many of the Good Sam Rallies do. They collect the receipts from the RVers there, things that they have purchased during the rally and tally it and report to the city council of whatever city we are camping in. This positively shows the municipality that we do spend (usually a lot) in the local area. This ensures them welcoming us back another year. We hold the rallies at local airports (which usually have to close for the duration (or at least restrict usage) We do try to arrive staggered so that 3-4000 coaches aren’t clogging up… Read more »


    Chuck, Many good points brought up in your article. I agree with them all, so I’ll offer some solutions. These won’t be the fix-all for everyone’s fight to find the best rv spot but they are alternatives. With our little group of rv buddies there are people who have lots of interests- some are boaters for example. I met someone who is a member of a yacht club locally and their club which sits right on a river has 5 rv spaces. They are used by members and their guests…first come, first served basis. I’ll be taking advantage of this… Read more »

    Henry Hoyt

    Chuck, Howdy; I instantly recognized the site of your photo from the plane. I grew up there, well, near-by to be more precise. That’s Levittown/Fairless Hills, Pa. Here’s some history; https://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-3DD you’ll see that the first family moved in in 1952. I’ve been a fulltimer since 2009, Have been fortunate enough to have found a RV Park that was developed in the 70’s as a Mobile home Park then they just split the sites in half and converted to RV’s. The sites are wide enough that we don’t feel like sardines and all but 1 are true pull throughs. When… Read more »

    Mark Evenson

    Chuck, “the way it used to be” is not a reality to folks like us who are NEW to the RV industry. I, for one, like to know where I will lay my head each night. I look ar RVing the same way I look at motel or hoteling, I make reservations. Reservations many time assure me of a spot for my RV in a part of the park that appeals to my family. I agree that we could use a million more RV sites, but I also believe that free enterprise does not support those extra sites. If it… Read more »


    I am with you on reservations! I reserve probably 95% of the time because I don’t want to go looking for a location to stay the night after being on the road all day. I also plan my trips and know approximately where I want to stay every night.

    Kathie Attaway

    If the RV industry won’t promote RVers to cities (who may not believe them anyway) why not the Clubs?? Escapees, Good Sam and others could send pictures of gatherings, and even representative caravans to these meetings. “Here we are. The face of RVing. We want to shop at your small boutique stores and eat at Joes Café. We would like to stay a few days and get to know you fine folks. But we can’t, because there are no places we can legally park, and we ARE law-abiding.” Maybe meeting the folks who would be camping would change the minds… Read more »

    Kenny Walker

    I wonder sometimes how much longer we will camp because of the over crowding. I don’t like having to make reservations most of the time.

    Dick Snyder

    Lots of good observations and thoughts so I’ll keep mine short. It’s not the responsibility of the RV builders to create campgrounds or parks. Their responsibility is to build quality vehicles that will entice people to buy them. Judging from the increasing number of complaints, many are failing to do that. Eventually people will stop buying junk – or not. So it has always been. We like to stay in clean places where the owner cares about his/her business so, if we have to pay a little more than bare minimum, we will. We don’t need resort amenities so we… Read more »


    I agree about how things have changed concerning anything about RV’s. I started working out of a 16 foot Shasta camp trailer,back then they were called campers, in the mid 1970’s when a spot in a campground was $50 a month.Today it is easily 10 times that much,if you can find a spot.I have to argue somewhat about full timers hogging up RV parks.What are many folks supposed to do when rental housing has went through the roof? Many of us old fogies cannot afford high rents,and sure don’t need a mortgage akin to a New York penthouse. It seems… Read more »

    William Willis

    Chuck! You are so right on & astute about the lack of rv parks & of “quality”!

    Patrick Granahan

    Chuck, If I took a picture with a drone of Maggie Valley, North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains it would look like your picture of the Pennsylvania suburban congestion. Here is a town responding to the need for more campsites (RV sites). Here you will find an endless clutter of RV Campgrounds….dozens and dozens of tightly packed RV Parks one after another. Without a reservation you will discover that even with thousands of spaces jammed in to the area like pickles in a jar there are no spaces available even with a month or more of advanced searching. The… Read more »

    Captn John

    We are currently in Maggie Valley. Would not even consider most of the CGs here. However, there is ONE. No pool, no bath houses but nice sites and nice people. If I cannot get in here I’d not come to the area. Already booked a month next year.


    Good article, but I think we’re in a wave. As you mention so often, many RVs are cheap and won’t last. I suspect many folks won’t replace them when they become unserviceable. I say this because I see so many used RVs, and know so many folks who say “we simply don’t use our RV”. Now, this may be an Alaska thing, but I think the popularity is simply a fad right now with a generation hitting the prime “dual-income-two-kids” window. R-Pods are flying off the lot, but I suspect that when the kids go to college, the old R-Pod… Read more »


    I agree with Gene except that those old R-Pods won’t die, they will become permanent homes in RV parks. The more people the less housing available for kids starting out and the elderly with limited incomes. We have been retired since 2016 and spend our winters travelling in the south. Last year we stayed a month in Bullhead City, AZ. We had a full hookup site and once a week I filled our water tank and dumped. We never have reservations when we go. If a park is full so what? We just find a parking lot or another park.… Read more »

    Richard W Moffitt

    first change is the me,me,me attitude, second , having made several trips to south florida in the winter, there are no empty campground, they are all nearly full. third is keep up the good work, you have hit the nail on the head everytime.


    If I owned a Campground or RV park I would want it filled every night with a guaranteed income. That comes from long term leases or weekly/monthly rates. Nightly stays requires extra personnel to process and escort around and require constant advertising to maintain a full status. Do not blame the campground owners for trying to maximize their income from their investment. Also as a person that has dealt with local planning commissions the cost of a startup for any business that requires construction is becoming so great that the average guy would have a hard time building a new… Read more »

    Ray Mason

    There are so many great comments it is hard to pick one, but Zoom got my attention. He is absolutely correct. I live on a few acres near Tidewater Virginia and have often thought of letting a few campers spend the night, but as Zoom says, local regulations and greedy, yes greedy local politicians along with the few locals that want to dictate everything in sight are like fleas. I would still offer an RVer a place to spend the night. I have a 32 foot MH that I can navigate my driveway with but nothing larger and no tag… Read more »


    Hi Chuck, Well it looks like you got plenty of responses and I hope you were not surprised by any of them. I know I wasn’t. One thing I have learned in my many decades of living, people think differently. I have camped/rv’ed off and on since the 60’s. I also never owned or camped in a tent or a pop-up. Not my style, then or now. We made reservations even back then. Where we lived, camping was a popular thing to do. We had 3 state parks in our area (within an hour drive) that have continuously stayed busy… Read more »

    marty chambers

    I think you are right on target, greed will possibly destroy RVing as we know it. But there is one thing to consider: The RVs being built today by Thor owned companies, and others, are getting so shoddy most of the people who buy them will not be a factor in the hunt for camp sites, their RVs will be tied up in warrantee work for years! They will get pissed off and sell at a loss and get out of RVs all together. The remaining RVers will benefit and eventually the builders of shoddy units will go out of… Read more »

    Sherri Eley

    I have read Chuck’s weekly column and agree with most of what he says. We have personally not experienced having trouble finding an RV park to stay in. But then we tend to frequent the same areas each year. I never make reservations when we are on the road to the final destination. WE stop early enough that spaces are available, and with the GPS and other references we call ahead about an hour before we plan to stop to check on availability. WE have never had to drive furthere than we planned because we could not find a space… Read more »


    Please Chuck read and understand what we are saying. You are trying to convince the manufacturers of the products(RVs) instead of speaking to and writing to the Campground Developers. Groups like ARVC. Possibly even motel chains. Manufacturers of RVs like manufacturers of autos do not have any interest in where the product is used. It is up to entrepreneurs like the people who developed the campgrounds years ago to build more. You might try talking to the larger chain campgrounds – they might be interested but I sincerely doubt it. You see, as an owner, it makes more sense to… Read more »


    Don’t allow your focus to be diverted by details. The root cause of all these issues and our social malaise in general is the worldview that nobody profits until something is sold. Even though Moses did not author this mantra, it’s a commandment nevertheless, hard wired into our brightest minds by universities. Apply this value system to the RV industry and the nicotine delivery business, naming just two, and you’ll understand. Nobody profits until something is sold (even if it’s junk, bad for your health or financially irresponsible). Chuck, I greatly appreciate your efforts to educate the RV community, especially… Read more »


    Interesting article and timely … Living in the pressure packed world of an executive, I understand why you only received 1 comment from your 1st publishing. You might not understand your RV executive audience. These folks live in a time crunched, 50-150 emails a day, less is more world. Too get their attention , editing down the article 50% might have opened the door for your audience. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

    Steve Parks

    Chuck, I think you’re right on target and have been for a long time.
    However, I think it’s pretty simple why it will never change. Camp owners and RV resort
    owners don’t and won’t care as long as their parks are full and can continue to
    to raise their rates. There is very little incentive for camp owners. RV sellers have no incentive
    either to look into the issue. The economy will impact them long before the lack of sites availability. The RV industry will not feel a negative impact of lack of sites. An economic downturn
    will hit them long before a too-populated market.


    There really is a lot in the article. First the Chambers of Commerce are not just selling a lifestyle. They want the tax base. So the 60 home developments are to fund the existing infrastructure without considering the need for greater infrastructure to support the newcomers. I’m watching it happen now. I moved from the suburbs to a rural area 20 years ago, took on a brutal commute to work and have watched the growth of housing and traffic. I also got married and started RVing 20 years ago. We started with a popup and went on to a selfcontained… Read more »


    I’m not sure what I think about your article. To me there seems to be a number of stakeholders in this situation: First, we have the RV industry. As you point out, the RV industry itself could help influence the general public and government bureaucratic opinions , but that type of advocacy will face the skeptical charge that of course the industry will paint a rosy picture of the type of people, and change that an RV park will bring to the area only because they want to sell more RV’s and it’s in their best interest to do so.… Read more »

    Warren Eoff

    Your comments ring true to us. My wife and I have been RVing for just four years and I have noticed a huge difference in that short time. Four years ago we never had to make reservations for a nights stay. We just headed down the road knowing that there would be a place to stay that night. Today, planning our travel itinerary is time consuming and frankly not much fun anymore. After only four years we find ourselves having a conversation about finding a place to settle down in coming up more and more frequently.

    David & Elma Leatherman

    Wow, Not sure I want to go full time, My wife and are planning to do what you all have done for the last 20 years as my parents did before me. But now after reading the article and comments I feel it’s not worth it. ………….just another pain, just another way to complain about other people’s problems and sitations. But that’s not me. Yes we have already ran into the over population of the industry, the poor service, busy roads and all that comes with it. Nevertheless we LOVE the travel, we love driving down the highway, eating snacks,… Read more »


    Nine years of fulltiming in a 34ft 5er ( our only home). We truly wander & don’t typically go back to the same spots each year. We’ve been to every state at least once & Alaska 3 times. You make some good points, however we have not experienced the severity of the problem that you write about. One reason may be that we set up our rv for boondocking, with solar, generator& large water capacities. By making use of several websites that list free camping sites, we manage to find free overnight locations without reservations in advance. As a result,… Read more »

    Tommy Molnar

    Well put. Fred. Living and traveling out west, we rarely run into problems finding a place, but that may be because we mainly boondock. Nevada (our home state), Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and even Montana have provided us with almost endless places to “Find a view, park the house”.

    Donald Wright

    Isn’t there supposed to be a maximum stay time period at campgrounds and RV Parks? So many places becoming RV graveyards instead of campgrounds. The other problem is the RV’s are so big. why do you need so much for two people?


    Because when it’s your only home with all your belongings, 300 sq ft is not a lot.

    Tommy Molnar

    It’s not a question of “need”. It’s what you want. Pure and simple. If you don’t want a ‘big’ trailer or motorhome, don’t buy one. Meantime, I’ll buy what I want.

    Don Hutchins

    It’s a thoughtful, well made argument, Chuck. But like many of your other readers, I too am hesitant to lay this on the doorstep of the RV industry. Not that I disagree that they are the source of the problem, but for the same reason we don’t expect car manufacturers to build more roads, bridges and parking lots. It’s not their business, and I suspect if they DID venture into the RV Park business, they’d probably screw it up as badly as they have managed the QC of most of their RVs. We are “rainbirds”, leaving the PACNW every winter… Read more »

    Mike O.

    I agree with Bob Zagami comment about the hotel industry missing an opportunity. If new hotels/motels around the country started to set aside a few RV parking spots with hook ups this might alleviate some of the over crowding in campgrounds. Making reservations ahead with no hassles would be great.

    Christina Carden-Ingels

    Oh yes. Good idea.
    Hotels could have 5 or 6 RV spots with hookups & the RV guests could enjoy the pool, amenities & even the free breakfast bar in the mornings:) Charge just bit less than the room rate, and hotel doesn’t even have to send the cleaning staff to put fresh sheets on the bed! A win-win for the hotel AND because the RV guest is using a few of the amenities there they can tell friends about what a nice hotel it was, so they may get hotel customers from this, too.
    Christina Ingels


    The current problem with this strategy is the land…Most don’t have enough for rigs and trailers. For those limited number that do, some take advantage of that. Some are missing the boat. I like the thought but the price would have to be a lot less than a room. There is no building to pay for. The RV takes up asphalt/concrete space only. You will use a $1 or $2 more electricity with the A/C or heater running all night. But nothing like a hotel room might. They could install a dump location (an infrastructure cost) so that RVer’s could… Read more »

    Lorraine Brenner

    We found such a place in Alaska. This was a hotel in Glenallen that had RV sites wih hookups in the front gravel lot. Around $25 if memory serves. We just passing through and this worked very well.

    Dan H

    Mike, What a sharp idea you have in suggesting hotels and motels allocate some space in their parking lots for RVs. More efficient use of their real estate I would think. Seems like a no-brainer to me. As soon as one chain finds that this does work for them, others are bound to follow.

    Robert Heacock

    I agree that there’s a regrettable lack of foresight on the part of RV manufacturers as to where people can or will use their products. In California, we grew up tent camping, then I bought a cab-over camper for my pickup, then in 2011 we bought a class A motorhome. On our last trip in the spring of this year, 2 months, 3000 miles 8 western states, we didn’t have too much trouble finding RV parks with space available—this is before summer, of course—but the prices were high to astronomical. In one RV park near San Francisco, we paid $85.00… Read more »

    Bill Semion

    Hi Chuck. You’re right. Boomers are still retiring and hitting the road in record numbers. Until they won’t be. Somewhere, some bean counter is saying to ya, ‘yeah, i agree, but 20 years from now when all you people are dead or no longer have a driver license, what do we do with all the campsite spaces we’ve created for you? Many will be sitting vacant because despite the rush to the road, people like my son won’t be on it for another 20 years, and the population drop will have solved the problem.

    John Snell

    Good article. My wife and I get away from the deep freeze a couple of months in the winter. Don’t know if I could do it “full time”. Which brings me to my point. Supply and demand have been mentioned many times but more doing RVing full time have contributed to a great extent to this problem. There isnt the “churn” in rv spaces and it will shrink year after year. I believe it may be inevitable that the industry will shrink. Chuck also points out the NIMBY (not in my back yard) effect for developing more sites. It will… Read more »

    Eric Ramey

    Chuck, I agree with your comments about how RVing has changed since you started on this journey. However keep in mind that EVERYTHING has changed from how I buy a house down to how I get my daily news (comparison to show the most complicated task down to the simplest). When I started RVing 10-years ago I used a paper map (still keep one as a back up) now I speak into my GPS. Now when I head out for a weekend, week or month I make reservations otherwise I will spend my fun time sleeping in a Walmart Parking… Read more »

    Bill T

    Hi Chuck, 35 years ago developed campgrounds and their owners, government or otherwise, were looking to the future of their sites filled with campers, on vacation or just out for the weekend. Well that future has arrived. Lets face it, owners are in it for the money, plain and simple. They don’t care about anything except keeping their sites filled. Most campgrounds we visit, state owned or otherwise, know the place has been paid for two or three times over and know it’s all profit for the owners. It’s easy to tell which places have no mortgage and are pure… Read more »


    I would suspect that those “over-nighters” you describe will want to find a convenient place along the freeway so as to not interrupt their travel itinerary too much. I’ve tried a ground lease program for this to see if I could reduce costs. It doesn’t work. They are not making any more land. Most who own it are asking ridiculous prices (because they know investors will buy it for even more future gains). Then, it’s getting harder and harder to get past EPA regulatory concerns. If one installs septic, holding tanks or fields, they have to undergo potentially months of… Read more »


    Totally agree with your observation but I’m not sure how the Manufacturers in this situation could ever help. I guess they could continue driving prices up until no one can afford them? That would mean less RV’s constructed, less labor required, less materials needed. That’s the trickle down effect. Their business models are about “Selling” and nothing more. What do we need? We need more entrepreneurs willing to gamble (albeit a small gable today) to purchase land, install infrastructure and hire labor to run the parks. And to do that, the average person simply doesn’t have an average $3 million… Read more »


    One more point for consideration…As residential market prices and interest rates continue to climb, expect more and more “Millennial’s” with and without kids to be forced to this lifestyle. And as more and more “Baby Boomers” come to their sense’s to get away from high taxes, living trapped like a rat in a cage, and have issues paying their medical bills or prescriptions, expect more to expand in this direction. Pretty soon, it will cost as much to live in an RV as it does to live in a sticks and brick house and there will still be nowhere to… Read more »


    I couldn’t agree with Mike more! 150% accurate. We ARE just customers. So many places we’ve stayed have terrible customer service. Their front desk staff are often cold, disinterested workers, who project an air of total negativity. We, too, have shyed away from traveling south because we cannot get reservations, cannot have any sort of spontaneity to our travel and have had great difficulty finding overnight spots that are safe and obtainable as we travel. It is no wonder that we noticed the Flying J parking lot FULL of RVs at 3 pm! They are “wintering” there, not overnighting! We… Read more »

    Dan H

    LittleLeftie, a sea of campers at Flying J tells me they are BOONDOCKING. So why aren’t they making the effort to do the same on public land which is plentiful here in the West. I circulate between the low desert in winter and the high country for summer and fall here in AZ. I haven’t needed a parking lot because there are many alternatives if you know how to boondock.

    Bob Zagami

    We purchased our first RV in 1978, forty years ago. Like everything else in our lives, RV and camping have changed over those 40 years. I still think it is the best way to spend quality time with your family. The premise of your essay is very real, but I’m not sure the problem lies on the desk of RV industry executives. We build RVs for personal enjoyment, and for the most part they meet that objective. As those sprawling meadows became clustered housing developments people bought more cars so they could travel more. Entrepreneurs saw an opportunity here –… Read more »


    As for your concern over campsites… while I appreciate your attempts to raise the warning flags, I must admit it is getting somewhat tiresome. Fortunately we live in at least a somewhat still capitalistic society. Supply and demand will work in this situation too. As the demand increases for camping spaces two things are going to happen, initially costs will go up (think golf courses in the 90’s), then, as those “greedy” capitalists see money opportunities (I prefer to think of them as smart investors), supply will begin to increase. It just takes time, will it happen soon enough for… Read more »

    Bill T.

    Well said Dave.


    Spot on Dave! Had to laugh when I read the “THEY DIE!” comment. So true though. And having two millenial kids myself, I can relate to the short attention spans of this group. As many of us geezers kick the bucket, a lot of those relics they’ve been living in will be towed off to the scrap heap. Hopefully some campground owners will see the profit potential in today’s higher nightly rates and decide to once again use those sights for travellers.

    Dan H

    Chuck, I agree with the writer who said that the endless diatribe about number of campsites for RVs is getting very old. Likewise with the railing against the manufacturers for their poor quality. Endless complaining never did bring about change……it just made it hard to be around you. You have so much energy, and dedication to us RVers. On quality: TEACH BUYERS how to find quality. What brands deserve to be avoided (and which should they seek out)? Teach them how to educate themselves, ask the right questions, do their own inspections. One direction I have not seen any comments… Read more »

    Judy Arroyo

    Agree with you and just about all those that made comments. Many RV park have so many RV that are permanent residents (mostly construction workers), or park homes (very small moble home) are set up, so there are few sites left for the RV traveler. Many of the more economical RV parks, the RV parked there permanently are old, run down there is junk around the RV. The park has the look of a bad trailer park, not exactly a place you want to stay in, there aren’t a lot of options.

    Ford Marshall

    It leaves me wondering when I look at the number of RV storage lots just around Calgary, Alberta and RV owners are forced to store due to our short RV season (May-Oct). Even when the season opens so many just sit there not used. I am thankful for this especially the big units trying to find a pull through site in Alberta/BC. I elected in having a small “B” class unit for the two us traveling into western BC and Alberta Provincial/National Parks where the sites are we’ll spaced, treed and on the smaller size. The sites are becoming more… Read more »


    That’s the way we went too Ford. Got a Winnebago Travato for our first RV and equipped it with plenty of solar. We keep the extras down to just the essentials for having fun. Allows us to quickly relocate to anywhere that strikes our fancy while enjoying a solid 17 mpg on the road. It just amazes us that such luxury, mobility and our own form of energy independence from normal campgrounds is ours now. We’re having a ball!

    Ed Day

    Good article, RVing, isnt’t what it used to be. Not only is the accommodation infrastructure not keeping up, established RV parks are going downhill fast, we had a corporate sales person from a well known camping time share/member organization tell us flat out “Were not in the Camping business” there goal is to sell leases to the ageing population and it shows! Iv’e sent E-Mails to the main office complaining about the decline in our favorite park and they just forward them to the park manager and nothing gets done, they throw crumbs at the issues but it’s plain to… Read more »

    Rosanne Drechsel

    What to say? Do I add my voice to the ongoing lament about changing times, changing lifestyles, changing values? My husband and I are both retired. Three years ago we sold our home, gifted the collections of stuff to our children, bought a 5th wheel, and joined the ranks of RV full timers. Forty-seven years ago we camped in a tent with two toddlers and a baby. Over the years we’ve camped in a pop up, a pull behind trailer, a motor coach, and occasionally another tent. The children and grandchildren love exploring and camping. We no longer camp. Our… Read more »

    Chris Bence

    This was an excellent article for those of us (dinosaurs) who appreciate nostalgia. The reality of western civilization though, is that supply and demand controls everything. How we deal with it is determined by our individual preferences and emotions. Collectively, we will roll with the flow. It’s the path of least resistance, thus more comfortable.

    Don & Nancy Schneider

    Very good comparison as always, Chuck. Unfortunately the “RV sales industry” could care less about the “RV User industry”. They just figure if we get tired of the “care free lifestyle” we will just come back to sell our used RV to them and fill those Used RV lots….more profit for them and loss for us. They forget that a glut of used RVs will mean NO SALES to new wanna be RVers. Maybe there should be an RV Users Association to foster new campgrounds with the local Chamber of Commerce and City Councils. We spend a lot of our… Read more »


    I was hoping to try RVing out. If I could get my better half to check it out. He’s almost convinced. But I’m starting to have second thoughts, because it seems to me there’s barely any places to really go and park. Watching RV’ers on YouTube complain about having to make early plans just to get in RV Parks or just no where to park. Seems to be an issue. My friend and the people in the community of the little country town she lives in. Was talking about trying to generate money flowing in their town. I mentioned why… Read more »

    Andrew Kapusta, Jr.

    Chuck, I agree with you. However, tent campers most likely thought the same thing when “modern” RV’s came on the market. When I go camping, I want to find water, sewer, and electric hook-up in a campground near the area I want to visit. I like to get a pull-thru because backing up is still hard for me. I have been camping for more that 25 years and made reservations without thinking otherwise. If a new campground was built and only offered WSE, they would not attract “modern” campers. I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, fishing, biking, new sights and just… Read more »

    Alan Warren

    Well done Chuck, as always. The parallel you draw with the RV Industry is spot on but only to those whose vision is beyond profits. When profits are the primary driving force, anyone that presents the Truth (as you so often do in your essays) is always ignored, overlooked or at best, dismissed as an odd-ball who doesn’t share the same “vision”. But as sure as the peace and quiet of the neighborhood you describe in your essay disappeared, the serenity and freedom people seek from RVing will disappear. But it will not disappear quickly. Rather, it will disappear at… Read more »

    RV Staff

    Thanks for your good points, Alan — from TheRVShowUSA.com. You think pretty good even at a high altitude (e.g., 30,000 feet, just to be clear). 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com.

    Joe Allen

    Like you Chuck, when we started full time back in 2000 we never made a reservation and there were plenty of RV sites to pick from. Now, those same parks are homes for many who can’t afford to travel anymore due to the costs of upkeep of the RV, the price of fuel, or the fact that they get a better deal if they stay put in one place. Sad but true! So now, we are not only dealing with the slogan “get your RV now and hit the open road” but with the amount of permanent sites that aren’t… Read more »


    Mother Nature will eventually take care of the problems caused by more and more people consuming more and more stuff, creating more and more pollution and waste. She may be implementing corrective action sooner rather than later based on the recent scientific analyses of the effects of climate change.

    Claude Comeau

    Agree that the RV industry needs to direct significant effort to promote more and less crowded RV Parks, especially in the southern states. Finding a decent campground for short stays, or a place to park overnight, while travelling is my biggest concern as an active RV’er. Safe, quiet, lots of room to set up, clean, economical sites, are very hard to find during peak season as they are already reserved weeks and months ahead. Until this gets resolved, RV’s need help to locate alternate safe sites they can access during these peak seasons. Many times I have wanted to stay… Read more »


    I work in residential construction, unfortunately, just west of Philly. Most of the farmland or woodland in this area is going to or already has been developed. And one thing that always bothered me, where do they get the names of these communities from. Springfield, Buckingham Preserve, Linwoods, Grist Mill Farms. Where is the field? Where is the preserve? Where are the woods? Where are the farms? I guess the developers figure if they make it sound like you are living in the country, it’s an easier sell. We first started RVing together in 2005. We both grew up camping.… Read more »