It’s hard to believe our time at Country Oaks is over! What an awesome summer we’ve had!
To share a bit of background so you know my perspective on the titled topic – Bill and I started camping with our kids in the summer of 1993. We purchased a 22′ travel trailer and joined a camping club. Once per month from May through October, we’d head out to a different member chosen campground. We also would go out on our own, for a weekend or week long vacation. We all loved seeing different places and experiencing new things. Back then, we were vaguely aware of seasonal camping, as most of the ones we visited offered seasonal sites, which we would see when taking walks with the kids. We never understood going back to the same place all the time, like a second home. Why wouldn’t you want to go to new and different places?
Now, having spent our summer in a campground that is mostly seasonals, I think I have a much better understanding of this way of camping.
Before diving fully into that – I might tell you the CG owners perspective, from what I have observed. Basically, seasonal campers are their bread & butter. Country Oaks Campground has 142 sites, and approximately 3/4 are seasonal sites. While the “cost per night” is less for seasonals, they sign a contract for the whole season, April 15 – October 15, and are paying that amount whether they come the whole summer or just one night. Seasonals (and monthly’s) also have metered electric and are issued and electric bill once per month, whereas transitional campers simply are charged the nightly rate, electric is included.
You may ask “what (other than just simply designating it as such) is the difference between a seasonal site and a transient or weekender site?” I’m sure the answer will vary, but at Country Oaks, seasonal sites are larger than the “regular” sites, they have more trees and are therefore more difficult to get into. Most people, once they park on their seasonal site, don’t move it again for a long time, if ever. Some seasonals here have had someone else park their trailer and don’t even own a truck capable of towing. Interesting to note is all but a very few of our seasonals have either a travel trailer, 5th Wheel, or park model. There may be 2 or 3 Class C’s and not-a-one Class A.
Most people will decorate their sites, personalizing their yards to look as they want it. The campground does have rules about what you can and cannot do, in an attempt to maintain some standard of appearance. For example, they are allowed a shed (up to a certain size), a deck that needs to be on the ground, no longer than the RV and no more than 8″ from the door. They have all sorts of chotchkies, including gnomes, bird feeders, garden flags, garden spinners, etc. Flowers and bushes can also be planted. The site “owners” are responsible for cutting any grass, (many prefer the ease of stones), trimming any bushes and also raking any leaves (which are plentiful in the fall!), which lessens the CG owners burden.
Country Oaks does a nice job of providing a great environment for kids and adults alike. We have an activity director who plans lots of fun things for the kids to do, while keeping with the theme that Lynn has chosen. Some of the weekend themes this year have been Water World, Elvis, Star Wars, RV Show, Pirates and Princesses, etc. One of the more popular weeks to come is their Halloween Weekend, which isn’t on actual Halloween, but at the end of September.
In preparation for this post, I spoke to some of the seasonal campers we have become friends with. To give you an idea of the demographics, the age range is all over the place, the youngest people in their late 20’s, early 30’s, all the way up to retired folks in their 70’s. I’d say most are 40’s – 50’s though. Most have kids, there are tons of kids! From toddlers all the way through high-schoolers. Most are married, or at least in a committed relationship, with some single parents too. We have lots of grandparents that bring their grandchildren here for extended stays.
The first thing I wanted to know is “How far away is your home?”. The answer to this confused me initially. The answer is most of our seasonals, probably 80% or more, live within an hour, with probably 80% of those living within half an hour. Yes, it’s true! So – WHY? The answer is they like to not have far to drive, they like to be able to run home, if needed. They like to be able to leave on Monday mornings to go to work, to come during the week if they want. They like to be able to bring their kids to their summer activities, or to school if desired. The answer I’ve gotten over and over is when they come here, they just feel “away” – away from home and all the stresses that are at home. They come to relax, shake off their week, enjoy the pool (more than one person mentioned loving having the pool that they do not have to care for!), enjoy campfires, have a few drinks and not have to drive, the list gets quite long!
Another question I asked was, since there are literally dozens of campgrounds within an hour of here, “Why here? Why Country Oaks – not a different campground?” The answer is two-fold. First, people love it here because it is a very nicely kept campground. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. The pool is wonderful, it’s large with plenty of lounge chairs. There is a Snack Shack with delicious ice-cream and other goodies. Another thing seasonals love is this is a privately owned campground, and they especially love that the owners live on-site. This is only a positive because Bob & Lynn are caring and responsible owners. I’ve heard lots of horror stories from people who’ve been to privately owned campgrounds, owners living on-site and they were terrible. Bob & Lynn know all their seasonals, some of them have been here since they bought the place almost 20 years ago, and now their children have grown up, married, bought their own RV’s and have brought their kids here; three generations in one campground. People love that there are planned activities; the themed weekends are looked forward to. Lynn arranges excellent talent to come in and entertain her guests; we’ve had Elvis in the building, a couple of bands and we even have a resident DJ, Chaz, who rocks the night away several times a season! An awesome time is had by all. Another perk is the well stocked camp store. It is rare that a guest comes in and doesn’t find what they are looking for – or at least a good enough substitution. This is especially important, as the nearest grocery store or Walmart is almost a half hour away. At Country Oaks there is a nice variety of items, including beverages, ingredients for s’mores, paper towels, TP, sewer hoses, electric adapters, etc.
The second part of the answer, why Country Oaks, is friendships. Friendships that were established long before anyone heard of Country Oaks might seem obvious, but less than initially obvious are the friendships formed after moving in and spending a summer here. At the beginning of the season, there were a few new people moving their rigs in, not knowing anyone. Friendships are formed around campfires and around the pool, during dances and other activities. A few ladies stopped in to chat with me one afternoon and they are planning to talk to Lynn about having a pot-luck dinner one weekend before they shut down for winter. Honestly, this is probably the most compelling reason to become a seasonal camper. Bill and I have always known RV’ers are some of the best people, and our summer here has just strengthened that belief. We have been welcomed here with open arms, and we are so grateful for having experienced seasonal camping at its best. I have to wonder, in our younger years, in our quest to always see and do new things, perhaps we missed out on something. Perhaps not, since we still have that wanderlust within us, that desire to go to new places and experience new things. We have enjoyed the contrast of that by staying put here at Country Oaks this summer, we have grown to appreciate the idea of seasonal camping, that has been our new experience this summer, and we are grateful for it.
Our Country Oaks friend, Tina, formed this list after I posed the question “Why seasonal camping? And why Country Oaks?” She promptly posted it on the Country Oaks FaceBook page and I will copy it in its entirety here for you:
“Why do I like being a seasonal at Country Oaks??? The amazing friendships that morph into family.
10:30 PM Hot Dogs with friends.
Sharing dinners with friends.
The Snack Shack and Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream!
Our awesome neighbors!
Not having to leave the Campground by 11:00 on check out day (we check out on October 15).
Pretzel bites with cheese at the pool.
Pizza at the pool.
Every day is a weekend from April 15 thru October 15!
Never ending Margaritas
Cooking over the fire pit (AMAZING)
Watching your friends wear at least one bite of food on their clothes.
And the list goes on and on!
Thank you Bob and Lynn, Bill, Kelly, Joe, Debbie, Jennifer, and Samantha (snack shack) for an AMAZING camping season!!! We appreciate your hard work and efforts!”
Leah, 11, ran into the store on my last day, in search of a snack, and replied quickly to “What’s your favorite thing about camping at Country Oaks?” by excitedly saying “Seeing my friends – no wait – the pool! No! Seeing my friends at the pool!” Then she started to run out the door – then turned and came back and changed her answer one last time “No – spending time with my parents!” I choked back a leaking tear as she turned and left out as quickly as she had arrived.
Guess that about sums it up, doesn’t it?