November 30, 2016 @ 2:00 PM

Thinking About Seasonal Camping?

Making the decision to camp seasonally is a big decision and involves many factors. You’ll want to compare the type of campground, ratings, things to do in the area, campground activities and amenities, events, and of course, camping rates. This article will take a look at each of these items individually, highlight the differences, and talk about what’s most important to consider when choosing the right campground for your family.

What is Seasonal Camping?   Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you are already familiar with RV’ing and seasonal campsites. RVs are any recreational vehicle used for camping recreation, including 5th wheels, motorhomes, travel trailer, camper van, truck camper, or popups, while seasonal camping is best described as parking your RV at one campground for the entire summer, versus traveling. 

The questions are, why would you want to camp in one place versus travel? While traveling is fun, it is also a lot of work.  You have to pack the RV, tow it to the campground, unhook and set up, camp, tear down, hook up, tow it home, and then unpack it. And this process repeats itself many times throughout the summer with each vacation that you take. Seasonal camping for the summer provides you with a summer home type of vacation where you simply set up your RV one time and then go enjoy your campsite whenever your schedules permit. You save time, work, and wear and tear on you the camper and your tow vehicle. Plus, with the added money that you’ll save on fuel and on campsite costs, you’ll have more money left over to do the fun activities that your campground offers! Seasonal Campsites are greatly discounted over the weekend rate, allowing you to camp more and pay less!

Which Campground Should I Choose? When you are deciding on which type of campground to choose, you need to consider what type of camper each campground caters to. Are you looking for a place in the woods, away from everyone, or would you prefer a place where you can make great friends and experience a sense of community? Tall Pines is primarily a destination campground, where people go to create great memories, make new friends and enjoy all the amenities that we have to offer. We offer a variety of amenities for all ages, and while we cater to families, we also have lots of couples without children who come to camp with us as well. Keep in mind that different campgrounds offer different things - some are family campgrounds, some cater more to partying, and some are adult only (retirement age) parks – and it is important to choose a campground that meets your style of camping. 

Seasonal Camping Programs Vary.  There are generally two different types of seasonal camping programs. Ownership programs sell you a campsite, while other campgrounds rent you a seasonal space which is yours to use for the summer. Tall Pines follows the latter model, where your site is yours to use all summer long and you have the freedom to leave whenever you want. While there are good and bad points to campsite ownership, we have heard many complaints throughout the years where people have bought into an ownership program only to be unable to sell their seasonal spot and are forced to pay $100’s of dollars each year in maintenance fees for a site they can’t use.  By the time you purchase, pay for insurances and yearly fees, you could have camped seasonally for many years without all the additional liability, costs, and other issues involved with campsite ownership.

Location, Location, Location! or Not?  When choosing a campground for Seasonal Camping needs, you want one with a close enough commute that you can maximize the use of your RV, but minimize your travel and time commitment.  That said, it is well worth your money and time to travel a little further to get into that higher rated campground that serves your camping needs, rather than to camp at a park which is not as nice.  Does the campground you choose have the amenities that you want? Tall Pines is a fun, family campground with an old fashioned atmosphere. It's a place where children run and play, where family and friends can reconnect around a campfire, where the sky is filled with stars and the songs of the birds wake you up in the morning. We are located on one of the most beautiful parts of the Unadilla River, and offer not only relaxation, but everything else you’ll need to make your stay both comfortable and complete. So while location and close is important, meeting all your camping needs is the primary requirement!

Are There Extra Charges for Large Families, Activities, and Amenities?  Many campgrounds offer a low seasonal camping fee, but either don’t offer the amenities and activities that your family craves, or offer them at a premium added fee.  So the campground that charges less per season for the campsite, may sound like a better deal than a campground charging more for the campsite, until you look at all of the ancillary charges.  Some campgrounds charge for 2 adults and extra for each child, some it’s a family of 4, some limit your camping to just weekends, and some (like us) have unlimited camping.  Some charge extra fees for Wi-Fi or onsite winter storage, and some (like us) include those in the seasonal campsite.  To the best of our knowledge, Tall Pines is the only campground in Upstate NY that provides a premium service without a premium price tag. Our seasonal program not only includes free winter storage and no restrictions on camping, but we even mow your campsite at no additional fee and deliver pizza and firewood right to your site. Additionally, we believe that family camping really should mean family camping. Our rates include up to 2 adults and all their children (up to a total of 8 people), plus offer your kids a unique Chippy’s craft program where they have free access to our Chippy’s Craft of the Day and discounted mini golf all season long. So before signing that seasonal permit, make sure that you know exactly what is included and what services are available and their cost. You have a lot of questions to ask when making your decision, and not just how much is the seasonal fee.

Questions You May Want To Ask:  How many people are included in the seasonal camping fee? How much is it to add additional people?  What are the charges for those?  What are their visitor’s fees?  Do they offer 50 amp electrical service?  What recreation do they offer?  Is there a charge for the recreation?  What activities do they offer?  IS there are charge for those?  Do they offer Wi-Fi?  Is there a fee for it?  Do they offer cable TV?  Is there a fee for it?  Do they offer meals?  What do they cost?  Do they allow golf carts?  What are the rules?  When are quiet hours?  Are they enforced?  Do they offer onsite winter storage?  What’s the charge for that?  How does their payment plan work?  Do they charge interest?  So make sure you add all of those individual charges that aren’t included, to look at them versus a campground where they are included, to see which one is really the most affordable.  You need to know the real bottom line before signing on the dotted line!

Check campground ratings before you become a Seasonal Camper.  If the campground isn’t rated well by their overnight guests and campground directories, chances are, you aren’t going to have the family experience you seek.  Make sure that the place you choose to spend your summer serves their campers well.  When you look at campground reviews, you’ll see what other people who have stayed at the park before you have to say, and when you research a rating, whether on Trip Advisor, Facebook, or Trailer Life, you’ll know what amenities you can expect to see at the park that you choose.

Try camping at the campground of your choice before becoming a seasonal camper.  One of the best ways to get a feel for the campground you are thinking of spending your summers at is to camp there for the weekend or for a vacation (holidays may want to be avoided since holiday crowds typically do not reflect the general camping atmosphere). Visit with the staff and other campers, check out the facilities and enjoy the activities. Is the staff friendly and helpful? Is the campground neat and clean?  Are the bathrooms kept stocked and clean? Are the other campers friendly? Are seasonal campsites run down or are they tidy and well maintained? Are quiet hour policies really enforced or is there a lot of drinking and out of control behavior once the sun goes down?  Observing these things will tell you a lot about the campground and its owners. A well run campground will strive to provide the type of environment that it is branded for, and while it may occasionally fall short, there should be rules in place and people on board to help achieve that goal.

Choosing the right campground for your seasonal campsite is important and as you can see, there are probably more variables involved than you originally thought.  Don’t short change yourself by picking a campground without fully investigating what it has to offer and what it’s really going to cost you to camp there.  While you may need to start at an entry level campsite in order to get into the campground of your choice, it is far better to get into the right campground and then move to your perfect campsite, then it is to find yourself in a campground that doesn’t meet your needs.