Why Buy a Camping Membership?
A) STATE, COUNTY AND FEDERAL PARKS
The basic problems inherent to this alternative are many. State, County and Federal Parks rely on the support of tax dollars. In today's tax conscience society parks are not receiving the dollars in tax allocation for government recreation areas. Further, many of the popular campgrounds require advanced reservations and in many parts of the country must be made as much as one year in advance. Another big problem is that there is no control over who can visit a government campground. What this basically means is that anyone who can come up with $40 could very well have the campsite next to yours. As an example: Some peoples idea of going camping is to bring a keg of beer, pull out the speakers from their van and play loud rock and roll music until all hours of the night. The crime rate in many government parks can often read like a small city's police blotter. Rapes, assaults, robberies, thefts are increasingly on the rise in many government campgrounds where massive budget cuts have eliminated necessary park rangers and security personnel. There have been many articles describing the perils and dangers in many of our government campgrounds. Several years ago Time magazine featured these problems in their periodical. Their findings discussed first hand accounts from park rangers who encountered such incidents such as cult type gatherings, paramilitary maneuvers, vandalism and the discovering of booby traps to protect marijuana fields located on government land. Not to speak of the ever increasing cost for just one night on the average nationally $40.00. Many of us remember when you could enjoy most parks for $4-6 per night by just driving up and feeling safe during your visit. I suppose the same people can remember when Motel 6 cost $6 per night.
B) PUBLIC CAMPGROUNDS
Public campgrounds share many of the same problems associated with the government campgrounds including advanced reservations, the lack of control over the clientele, crime, and expensive nightly costs to name just a few. One of the biggest problems is there is no consistency from one campground to the other. For example, if you have ever visited more than one KOA campground, one of the largest campground chains, you can probably attest to the inconsistency at each campground. Maybe the first one you visited was the most beautiful camp you could have ever hoped for while the next one has an owner that has interest in one thing; how much money he can collect while putting the least amount back into the campground. You end up in a campground that has graffiti written all over the walls in the comfort station as you stand in water waiting to use the one stall that is in order. Or for some odd reason the refuse in the garbage receptacles haven't seemed to have been emptied in an extended period of time as you stand there and wonder what to do with yours. As in government parks, the money you spend in overnight fees add up and goes out in the form of rent vs. owning something.
C) PURCHASING A CAMPSITE OR RECREATIONAL LOT
The biggest drawback in buying a campsite or recreational lot is the expense. Next is that there is not the variety of more than one place to travel to. After all, they put wheels on recreational vehicles for a reason. Although the concept of a campsite or recreational lot provides ownership and in many cases proves to be a good financial investment, two major factors must be considered. First, in our area the average cost to purchase a campsite or recreational lot will average $5000.00. This is generally just the beginning. After you purchase a lot usually you have to develop it. By that I mean that you have to bring power to the property, put in a sewer system and put in a well for water. The average expense to bring power to the property with a power pole and meter will average $500.00. The septic system will cost approximately $1500.00. And for a cased well, plan to spend about $2000.00. Here we have an additional $4000.00 in extra expenses above and beyond the original price of the lot. Now you have $9000.00 invested in your lot. You may think it is over but really it is just the beginning because you have now become a property owner. This gives you the privilege of paying ongoing taxes, utilities, maintenance, insurance and in most cases association fees or dues and from time to time assessments. In considering a recreational lot expect to spend on average $200.00 each year on taxes, $100.00 or so on utilities, maintenance can vary but let's say it's $50.00 and your insurance should be around $75.00, while your association fees or dues run around $100.00. Here all told we have an additional $525.00 that you pay whether you use your lot or not. In addition you could end up in the unfortunate situation that you did in the government parks, in that, you still have no control over who your neighbor is going to be. As an example, lets say you fix your lot up real nice, nicely trimmed and mowed but your neighbor lets his grass grow up, or parks an old bus on the property or maybe builds some kind of weird looking structure on the property. Surveys have found that a majority of families who purchase a recreational lot eventually get tired of going to the same place all the time. After all, why did you buy a RV?... to travel and enjoy the variety of different locations and settings.
The difference between going public versus private are many. First keep in mind that the resorts that are in the network are totally private "for members only". This in and of itself eliminates a lot of riffraff we see in the government and public parks. All of the people in membership campgrounds have paid a membership fee to have the right to use the resorts. Also, in order for a resort to be licensed to be in the system, each resort must pay substantial fees and meet stringent requirements to participate. The resort, by mandate of the license agreement, must provide amenity packages such as swimming pool(s), clubhouse (s), bathhouse (s), etc. Additionally, such resorts must include a wide arrange of activities. You will find many things to do for all ages. Activities such as bingo, potlucks, outdoor barbecues, nature bikes, mixers, theme weekends, card games, social events and much more. Full time security and trained CPR and medical personnel are placed at each resort to insure your safety.
COST COMPARISON OF PUBLIC, KOA, STATE PARKS
MEMBERSHIP NIGHTLY FEE SAVINGS APPLIED TO ENERGY COSTS
Many RV enthusiast are considering membership camping as an effective approach to offset the escalated cost of energy. Take a look at the matrix below reflecting exactly how the nightly fee savings of a campground membership effect today’s energy costs compared to the savings above:
The trend has been for several years that the nicer more developed resorts have gone to private membership. Let us explore the reasons why. The bottom line is that by becoming a private membership resort the resort developer/owner will make a considerable amount more money. To explain by example, lets compare two resorts with the same amount of amenities and campsites. The public park rents sites at $40.00 per night and the membership park sells memberships at the national average sales price of $3995.00 with annual dues of $325.00. Lets say that the public park averages an 80% occupancy for five months out of the year. Lets also say that the membership park enrolls 2000 members. Lets also say that both parks have 100 utility sites.
Each resort developer that obtains a license to participate in the network is required to set aside a percentage of their total campsite's for visiting members. These are sites that the developer can not sell memberships to. Over the years a complicated formula has been established so the availability opportunity at each resort is optimum for visiting members.
Lets look at how this compares to belonging directly to TT or OW. Both TT and OW offer zone passes that cost $499.00 annually. For the $499.00 you receive 30 free nights to the 18-24 resorts in your particular zone. If you divide the $499.00 by the 30 nights allowed you are essentially paying $16.63 nightly. Not a bad deal, however membership into our organization requires no additional annual fees and allows you to use these resort for $15 nightly and a $3 park use fee a total of $18 nightly. Accessing TT and OW through our membership cost $1.37 more nightly but in the case where you don't use these properties 30 nights it will end up becoming a much more affordable option. Also with our membership you can access all TT and OW resorts and zones across the country. Their zone membership only allows use of the zone you choose (northeast, northwest, southeast or southwest zone).