Monday, September 26, 2022

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Utility workers taking over campgrounds, given priority over campers like us

[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.)

Just wondering…

Related:

70% of last year’s campers say they will try it again in 2022

##RVT1039

Comments

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Sara
7 months ago

So…you literally had to make an article to complain because you didn’t get the spot you wanted??? Boo hoo. Office apparently forgot about your request. And boy lots of misinformation on these poor workers. Those guys are paying for their spots, just like you. A lot of jobs require traveling and it is so much nicer staying in a camper that can feel like home versus a hotel which is usually substantially more and not going to feel homey at all. They’re also not getting any preference over you or anyone else lololol.

Heather
7 months ago

The unbelievable gall and privilege here. Holy crap.

Here… I’ll shorten it for the readers that couldn’t sit through it all and need a synopsis:

“Other people exist in campgrounds where we think we should get priority. Other people that are WORKING. At a campground that needs people to stay in business. Can you BELIEVE this inconvenience I’m having to endure???”

Darla
7 months ago

First come first serve don’t like it try a truck stop.

FullTimer Bill
7 months ago

A lot of those utility workers are full timers just like us. They bring their families on the road with them and they like to sleep in their own beds. Others bunk together with coworkers and dash home for weekends and holidays with their families.

Some of them don’t actually get to talk to their co-workers during the work day. You’ll see them catching up at one of the tailgates or around the barbecue pit no matter what the weather does.

One of my work-camping neighbors would harvest beautiful produce from his back-home garden and for weeks I was rolling in Zucchini, Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and potatoes.

I’m sorry your RV Park didn’t give you the site you wanted. But, they may have done you a favor. You might have been annoyed being so close the after-work tailgating and the unavoidable noise of so many going off to work while others are free to sleep in.

Why don’t you bake some cookies for their lunch boxes? Maybe you’ll get invited to the barbecue?

V. Husband
7 months ago

If you do not like the way the campground is operated, you could buy it. Or you could go camp somewhere else.

Lisa
7 months ago

One thing I think you may have forgotten about, even though you hint at it in your essay. If the campground business really was down as much as you say during the pandemic, perhaps the reason the owners aren’t updating the amenities is because 1) they accrued debt as a result of fewer campers/income, so now are trying to get back on track with finances. In addition, they seem to still have facility repairs to make before the perks are to your liking?
Also, siding with the workers — we do have many utility workers, along with plumbers, construction workers, etc in our park. Most have families and have chosen a life on the road together instead of being apart. Perhaps you could try a little attitude adjustment and “presume positive intent”. And try meeting the new campers?

Carl Terry
7 months ago

As a “worker” which some of you know nothing about appearantly, I travel across the USA working in power plants, chemical plants, refineries. Almost anything to make a dollar to support and take care of my family. Sorry that workers are such an inconvenience to some people. We are out here trying to make money, and have to travel. Just trying to provide for our families!!! In a lot of cases the park owners are grateful to be able to charge us double or triple the normal price and give us the shittiest spots and service . It’s a better life to be in a rv than a hotel where the illegals and drug addicts have took over ! To me I have a safe zone for my family to come visit on occasion and stay while I’m out of town working,

Sara
7 months ago

I’m a linemans wife and our home is our trailer. The comment you made about hotels and rentals isn’t true. A large portion of linemans families call their rv their home full time. Alot of wives and kids travel as well. It’s a life choice, since we go where the work is. Before venting about something you don’t seem to know much about why don’t you attempt to go talk to your utility neighbors. We are very friendly have no problem talking about our lifestyle and life choices we have made to support our families while servicing towns and cities all over the US.

Mike
7 months ago

Well what would be real nice is if people like YOU wouldn’t book a year in advance so people like ME can plan a trip when the time allows and we would have a place to stay. Not so good now right? Stop your complaining!

Alouette
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

She’s complaining about one specific campground on a global forum and feels upset for not getting the exact campsite that she always gets. Probably been her spot for 15 years and hella entitled. Maybe she needs to voice a complaint to the actual owners (likely family run) instead of ranting about times changing. She’s bitching about the workers while ignoring that the issues she notes are things only the campground owners control. And I’m sure it never, ever crosses her mind that Florida is a ***********.

Slp
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

I agree on that point. We have a small popup which is perfect for us and others look down or won’t allow pop-ups.

Outdoorsman trades worker
7 months ago

Hey gail, maybe the workers who are repairing YOUR infrastructure aren’t so glad to be sharing the park with some privelidged soccer mom who’s complaing about having her states grid system repaired! Ponder that for a moment while you sip your latte from star bucks and maybe be thankful for once!

Alouette
7 months ago

Right!? She’s talking about it like it’s her own property and personally suffering because new people are moving in, and seems to acknowledge COVID, but is confused still as to why people won’t travel, like almost blaming other people for making that choice. And gonna be honest I’m married, but the amount of times she said Hubby made me almost vomit.

tom
7 months ago

Hurricane season. Glad to see them.

Ted Bell
7 months ago

First World Problems

Russ
7 months ago

Hey lady,why dont you dry camp with out power,c how you like that?
You are the apitomy of what i dont like in our park. Entitled small minded people.
Im retired,and have worked on the road in my trade.
STAY HOME

Raymond Clark
7 months ago

We have a contractor next to us in a toy hauler. I’m guessing they unloaded it at the work site before coming to the park.
A few years ago there were welders working on a bridge but there really isn’t any good housing near by.

Jeff
7 months ago

Did it ever come to mind that if the park didn’t open the doors for these workers that your southern getaway may have to close the doors ? Because as you said the Canadian snowbirds can’t come because of Covid ! Maybe you should quit complaining and count your blessings!

Will king
7 months ago

Florida needs utility workers, what we don’t need is more entitled snowbirds and people on vacation. Florida is full, find another place to complain.

Michael
7 months ago
Reply to  Will king

That’s what I did. Apparently, Arizona is not so full, humid, expensive, and unfriendly. Stay in Florida.

Amy
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Trust me. Arizona is just as tired of hosting people who think we’re supposed to be grateful for their cash. We survive the 110° months and would love to enjoy the winter weather but can’t because snowbirds fill everything up. There’s a saying– if you can’t stand our summers, you don’t deserve our winters.
Something to think about.

Alouette
7 months ago
Reply to  Will king

Lol Florida is a garbage fire of elderly people, 20 something’s that only want to leave, and the vacationing upper middle class. The snowbirds realized that Florida ain’t worth jumping through a bunch of hoops for. You should too.

Helen Henry Ingram
7 months ago

So sorry you feel this way. Husband and I worked pipeline for 33 years and at that time most people at Rv parks were construction workers. I hate to think of anyone thinking they are better or entitled to something more than the men and women that are physically out there making this world of ours to be able to have utilities at the flip of a switch or turn of the wrist. Just kindly remember we were likely there first and we keep this land of ours running. We are now retired and are on our 9th travel trailer,rv, fifth wheel and now motor home. Please show respect you’d be surprised just how friendly we are and how if you needed help with something you would see how willing we are to help. Respectfully

Florida
7 months ago

That’s pretty much how some Florida residents feel about snowbirds. All the sites are booked up by northerners 11 months in advance. Which is good for business but the average Florida family who wants to camp does not know the strategies they have to take to get a camp site. So they give up and have lost the opportunities to camp and make memories with their families.

Alouette
7 months ago
Reply to  Florida

It seems like the problem is Florida’s reliance on tourism, Florida’s nonexistent COVID protocols killing it’s citizens and steering visitors away, Florida’s backwards zoning and terrible infrastructure, and the increasing number of hurricanes due to human caused climate change.

LJ Johnson
7 months ago

I’m not a utility worker, but I am in pipeline. I travel the country from job to job, sometimes I don’t see home for months on end. I drive my own truck, that I’m paid for, and pull my RV. Between the truck pay and per diem, I get 150/day. Reg per diem is 100. Hotels for that are hard to find. So I stay in campgrounds for 30ish/night and can pocket the difference.

My frustration is just the opposite. In years past I’ve never had trouble finding places to park, but lately that’s changed. With the influx of new RVers since COVID, and all the long termers in places like Florida, it’s not uncommon for me to have over an hour drive each way to my job. On this job, I called 30 different RV parks before finding a site, and I’m 60 miles from my job. That equates to 14-16 hr days door to door.

Sorry the workers are spoiling your vacation. I get it, I RV for leisure too. But there aren’t a lot of options for any of us.

Alouette
7 months ago
Reply to  LJ Johnson

Sounds like a big problem seems to be unaffordable housing, and many relying on RV sites and campground for cheaper rates. If only Florida govt wanted to do anything about it.

Kristina
7 months ago

I can understand!! They are doing their jobs and given special priority, just for doing their job that THEY signed up for. I don’t feel bad they’re away from their families etc. My husband works for a utility company as a welder. Linemen are super entitled. My husband is a welder and has to repair all their abused equipment. The linemen that use the equipment return it abused and in shambles. Brand new trucks are completely trashed. It isn’t fair that someone is treated differently because of what they choose to do for a living.

A Rinehart
7 months ago
Reply to  Kristina

It isn’t “fair” that peoooe who we actually working and contributing to society, who are the reason why we have utilities are prioritized over old people who no longer contribute and want to whine about their privileged life being less than ideal? If I was the park owner I know who I’d want. Life is for the living, not the pampered, entitled retired person. Move aside, be grateful for what you have and hush!

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