Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris
In our semi-monthly roundup of reader comments, we found that many had plenty to say — and in no uncertain terms. We love hearing from you — even when you don’t agree with us.
Do RVers “camp”?
It’s another nerve strike: Chuck Woodbury’s editorial musings in issue 783 about whether RVers can be rightfully said to be camping when out in their rigs definitely got a reaction from readers.
David kicked in with a question of his own: “Chuck, why does an RVer need to be a camper? I bought my DRV Suites 5th wheel because I wanted all the comforts of home; as it is my home. It gives me the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want. We’ve been fulltime for two years now and have yet to build a campfire to sit around. I didn’t do that when I had a house, either.”
Denny didn’t mince his words, either: “I dislike the word camping when someone is talking about RVing. I enjoy my creature comforts at home and also on the road. Okay, I like RVing better. We have all the creature comforts at home and prefer to take it with us on the road which is six sometimes seven months. Now I have a birtch (sic) not about you or the magazine, but about the width of spaces in (pardon me) camp grounds. With slide outs being dominate in today’s world it makes it worse. Then add your awning then when parks allow you to Edith back in like trailers and motorhomes can pull straight in then the two outdoor living areas are next to one another. We try to avoid narrow width lots. Parks are old and it’s costly to upgrade and then charge more.”
Several of our readers cast a historical, back-look on their thinking. Darrel was among them: “When I was a teenager I camped with a sleeping bag on a tarp in the deep woods, no tent. Later, I car camped and motorcycle camped with a tent in developed campgrounds. After my wife and I retired and decided to full time, we do not camp. We LIVE in our house on wheels. Mountains, seashore, woods. We RV. We LIVE. We do not camp. If you want to camp, buy a backpack, a two-man tent, and a sleeping bag and go for it. Don’t smoke me out with your campfire, and don’t blast me out with your outdoor TV and radio and we’ll be fine.”
“We used to tent camp as a young family,” writes Dave. “Now we are in our late 60’s and we still enjoy the outdoors with the fire pit and outdoor cooking and nature hikes. We have a 35′ fifth wheel and yes it has all of the modern conveniences, but we still go out into the forest and CAMP OUT. And no we don’t have a washer and dryer. Yes, we still camp out, just with a little more BLING that we used too. Now we can get DOWN out of bed instead of UP out of bed. LOL.”
MS thinks monikers get in the way. She writes, “I remember when you were ‘camping,’ no matter where you are and no matter what you were in. Not only has terminology changed but the people who are in the campgrounds and RV parks have changed as well. And not for the better. Too many ‘class’ distinctions abound and I do not think it is a good thing. Congratulations for keeping up with the rather annoying trend. The ‘RVing’ people have caused me to decide I do not want to be one of you with your little petty prejudices. I no longer ‘boondock’ (and I’m not sure what that word even means anymore). Plus I have been told several times that I am not an ‘RVer’ or a ‘fulltime RVer’. All because I do not fit the uber narrow definition of whoever is espousing it at the time. So I now tell people I am an RVDer (Residential Vehicle Dweller) and sometimes I ‘freedom park’ (park overnight anywhere that I’m allowed, self-contained). And I ‘camp’ when I have hookups (either full or limited).”
Evidently not everyone has a problem with being labeled. Dick K and Sandy S wear theirs as a badge of honor. “Camping is not what most RVers do, unless it is in a tent or pop up. Camping is the 12 foot umbrella tent we started out with in the 1960’s. What most RVers do, is now called GLAMPING or Glorified Camping. Yes, there are different classes of Glamping and there is Dry Glamping also. We call it Dry Camping but unless you are in a tent, or a teardrop, or a pop up, you are still Dry Glamping. There are some that still call motorhomes campers. Our coach is 40 foot and has every convenience that is in our stick home. It is not a Motor Camper, it is a Motor Home and we are proud Glampers.”
On the other hand, Charmayne found the suggestion that RVing and camping are mutually exclusive to be offensive. Here’s the take: “I’m sad with your editorial this week. We enjoy all the extras of our fifth wheel but we still consider it camping. We enjoy cooking over the open fire compared to stove, oven, and microwave inside. We have TV outside which we watch because we can and are careful to keep the volume down so that neighbors are not annoyed, although some of them you never see because they might be inside their 5th wheel or motorhome. We enjoy sitting around the fire visiting with our neighbors. So just so we have the convenience of home in our 5th wheel, we still consider ourselves campers. I don’t think I’ve seen many pictures of you cooking or sitting around a campfire. And many times you always talk about places you have eaten out. So perhaps you should not be so judgmental as to who is a camper and who is not just because they enjoy a comfortable camping unit.”
Finally, BobG had a bone to pick with Editor Chuck. “Maybe it’s just me, but the routine negative tenor of your editorial is a bit tiring. Please consider an occasional upbeat topic. Great newsletter though.”
Chuck had his own view after hearing this. “Bob, I am not a cheerleader for the RV industry, where I see a lot of bad stuff going on these days. I have been writing this weekly newsletter for more than 16 years and have probably written far more ‘cheery’ editorials than those with a ‘negative tenor.’ I am sure you are not alone in your observation, but I can’t please everybody. You come sit in my chair for a few days and read my emails from RVers who got burned with a crappy RV or couldn’t get service on it after they bought it. The guy parked close to me where I am now has a five-year-old fifth wheel with five slides. He has had to replace the motors in those slides ten times! And, sadly, like many other RVers, he has a 20 year loan, and even if he wanted to sell his RV today, he couldn’t sell it for enough to pay off his loan without hitting his savings account. People write me all the time when they realize they are $20,000, even $50,000 upside down on an RV loan.
“The more people I can educate to help them avoid things like this, the better. If you want to read ‘cheery’ stuff, read the RV printed magazines, where it’s all fluff to please advertisers. Bob, I know where you are coming from, and I appreciate your comment. It’s just that right now I’m a bit angry at the industry and far more interested in educating RVers than pleasing industry bigwigs. I’d stop this newsletter in a minute if I had to just write fluff to please advertisers and industry people, who right now are beyond happy with record sales, even if the quality of many of those RVs is questionable.”
A tiff with Tiffin
After we published a piece regarding Tiffin Motorhome’s changed policy regarding factory service on older rigs, we got yet another earful.
Tren’s comments reflected what many felt – perhaps an underlying sense of betrayal? “I have a 2008 Phaeton and had planned on going to Red Bay in a month or so. Now I wish I had not bought a used Tiffin. Talk about alienating their customer base! Will they next insist on younger owners as well?”
Others had their feelings well trod on. Debi sounds off: “In late November, we decided to take our 2008 Phaeton on a last minute trip from Texas to Red Bay to have roof rails, wet bay, and driver’s side slide-out (the Big Three) checked out. We bought the Phaeton used in January 2014. Turns out we had to have new roof rails and wet bay replaced. I’m glad we did it since we have received this news! What a slap in the face to us “older” customers!
Tom didn’t limit the focus to Tiffin alone. “This industry needs to get a grip. Most RV dealers have a limited service staff focused on delivering new RVs. Getting service on an RV, even if it’s new is like a veteran trying to be seen at the VA, and that’s mostly for coach issues. The problem doesn’t get any better when you want to get the chassis serviced. Freightliner just keeps saying bring the coach to Gaffney, SC. What a joke. Their Oasis Network is for the most part non-existent. It’s time the industry started spending some of those profits to build a network of service centers.”
Still, Mike seems to lay the fault on a wider audience: “Here’s an IDEA. If everyone went back to ‘CAMPING’ instead of ‘Glamping’ you would not have these problems as you would not own a massive MOTORHOME which essentially is a HOUSE with all its own problems bolted to a TRUCK chassis with all its potential problems. And we wonder why we have problems with these inventions of ‘Modern Manufacturing’!”
Finally, Marty has his own ruminations as to the “whys” of the matter. “I wonder if the change is due to a large increase in warranty work. We have a couple parked near us for the winter with a new Tiffin. His pick list of warranty issues covers a full sheet of tablet paper and he is having trouble getting the list cut down to size. For instance, the parking brake handle falls through the console and it is nearly impossible to disengage the parking brake. I understand he has been told he will have to bring it back to the factory, a mere 1600 miles from where he is now. My 2004 paid for rig looks better and better every day.”