[Editor: Turned off comments. Your messages came through loud and clear.]
This is our third year at the same southwest Florida campground but it’s definitely different this year. The park manager of this small operation is the same as in past years, we have the same RV site, the pool and pickleball court are the same, too. So, what’s changed? The clientele, or, more specifically, the utility workers.
This year, as Hubby and I walk around the small RV park, we notice something we hadn’t seen in years past. It’s the number of vehicles sporting the same electrical company’s logo. That’s right, we’ve had an influx of electrical workers move into the park. Turns out, they are contracted to work on upgrading Florida’s electrical grid. That’s fine. What’s not so fine? They seem to have priority over regular campers, like us.
I have nothing against folks who work for electrical companies. After all, they are the ones who help Hubby and me stay comfortable whether we’re running our furnace in our stix-n-brix home or running our air conditioner to stay cool in the Florida heat and humidity. What bugs me is that the park operators have decided to give the workers preferential treatment. (At least it seems that way to me.)
A little history
This small campground has really suffered during the past two years of the COVID pandemic. In 2020, about one-third of the RV sites were unoccupied. Last year, during Florida’s “season,” more than half of the sites remained empty. Canadians from years past simply didn’t come. Whether it was because of the difficulty of crossing into the USA from Canada, or the thought of trying to return to their homeland (mandated quarantines), we weren’t able to enjoy the company of our north-of-the-border friends. Other former snowbirds, frightened by COVID, stayed home in hopes of getting their vaccines. Turns out, we got our first vaccine shot here in Florida in early January. Missouri didn’t offer vaccinations until later in the spring.
With all of the COVID upheaval, I can only imagine the hit to our little campground’s bottom line. We tried to help out as we could. Hubby and I re-sided a cabin and repaired decks on a few more. We renovated the interior of one park model “home” and installed new window air conditioners in two others. But still, a lot of maintenance remained to be done. The camp simply couldn’t afford the materials to do it.
What a difference a year makes
Fast forward to 2022. Today as I look out our RV windows, I see a full campground. I’m happy for the park owners, but I’m a little disappointed, as well. You see, last year we walked the park at different times of day to see if another RV site would provide better shade along with greater Wi-Fi and TV reception. At the end of our stay last year (2021), we requested a specific site for this year’s stay (2022). We spoke directly to the camp manager who agreed on our new, preferred spot. We spoke to the manager two additional times prior to arriving this year. Each time we were assured that our new, requested spot was happily awaiting our arrival. We had no reason to think otherwise. After all, we’d worked alongside the guy and considered him a reliable person. A friend.
You can probably guess what happened. When we arrived this year, we were told our requested site was “taken.” We were reassigned to our “old” site. We were disappointed. We wondered what had happened, but decided to make the best of it. Day after day, our preferred “reserved” site remained unoccupied. In fact, it was not occupied for four continuous weeks! Then, last Friday, the electrical trucks rolled into the park. And kept on coming. And coming. It felt rather like an invasion. As we watched the campground fill with utility workers, we finally knew why our perfect spot was “taken.”
Why utility workers?
As the country returns to normalcy after COVID, companies are searching for ways to cut costs while still expanding their businesses. In years past, workers stayed in hotels while stationed at worksites away from their permanent homes. Now, it seems, more and more companies are discovering that it’s much less expensive to house their people in campground cabins or in RVs at campgrounds located closer to their work sites.
Why campgrounds? In addition to the rise in hotel costs, more and more companies can’t find affordable houses or apartments to rent. In addition, the cost of rent has skyrocketed in many areas of the country. That fact, along with the short supply of rentals available, has pushed more and more workers into campgrounds.
Park limitations aren’t stopping utility workers
You should know that this is an older park. It was originally built when RVs were much, much smaller and offered no slide-outs. The park’s roadway is quite narrow, as well. Consequently, many sites are very difficult to access with today’s big rigs. Sites are also very close together once you’ve extended your rig’s slides. All of these facts make parking our truck difficult in the best of circumstances. But now? At their assigned sites, the electrical utility workers have the personal vehicle that they used to tow their RV, along with a boat in several cases. These are parked on the limited grassy areas near their campsite. In addition, there are work trucks (with logo) parked all along the roadway and grass. The campground feels more like a utility company parking lot than a campground.
New money, new updates?
With all of the presumed influx of money, we hoped that improvements would be made to the pool and pickleball court. So far, no work has begun. The same goes for the sidewalks and the dog park. All of these park “perk” areas need attention. Serious attention. Why isn’t it happening? Our best guess is that because the utility workers do not use these amenities, they are not a priority for the park. It’s disappointing, to say the least.
Again, I understand that a buck is a buck. If the campground can have the assurance of a steady income stream from the electrical workers, more power to them. I’m just chafing because we didn’t get the site we’d counted on. I’m disappointed that updates and general maintenance haven’t begun. Maybe it will soon.
Just needed to vent…
Ooh! I just reread this and can already hear what you’re thinking! A great big ol’ pity party is in progress here, huh? Guess I need to count my blessings instead of griping? After all, I do get to vacation in a warm, sunny, and beautiful state. Thankfully, my working years are behind me. Hubby and I have good health and love living life together. If need be, we can look for a different campground for our next vacation, right?
Thanks for letting me vent. I feel better with this off my chest. I think I’ll go enjoy the sunshine. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet a new friend who can fix the broken light in our RV fridge. (Wink, wink.)