RV’ing full time with our twelve children is possibly the greatest decision we’ve ever made. It’s allowed us to capitalize on every second of the short time we have with them and teach them and show them all the things I worried we would never have time for. Vacations were never really feasible due to finances, and when they were, we chose the beach. Now, today, our kids get to see the entire country, learn first hand about geography, science, history, government … the list is endless. We have become inseparable, we are each other’s best friend, we have each others backs on and off the river. We even have a new family motto: Faith, Family & Fun to keep us focused on the goal of this adventure. Those are our priorities and everything we do is aimed at increasing the quality of those 3 things.
But, of course, we have our struggles. We all know nothing worthwhile is ever easy and our biggest struggle is finding campgrounds that are family friendly in both the financial arena and the social arena. Campgrounds facilitate Dan’s job, the kids’ blogging, my blogging, keeping up with friends and family via technology, etc. and give us a space to call home for awhile. Campgrounds have a little something called hook-ups for water and electricity …
State run campgrounds are almost always both financially and socially great. They typically have room to roam, RV’s aren’t stacked onto each other, they are often extremely well kept and are relatively easy on the wallet. Private campgrounds are, on average, none of those things, unless you are blessed and contact a private campground that is welcoming towards families. They tend to gouge the traveller for every penny and offer very little in return.
In our experience with most private campgrounds I’ve found very few that are spacious, clean, welcoming and financially doable for full-timers with children, let alone 12 children. Nelson’s campground is one of these rare exceptions. They have a monthly rate of $300 that they don’t exceed, their grounds are spotless and their location is about 17 miles from Nantahala Outdoor Center! Most importantly, they don’t charge per child; like most private campgrounds. This is the struggle we have. In fact, we recently received an $96 night quote from Summersville Lake Retreat in Summersville, WV and they were not at all open to reason. Their entire campground was empty and they wouldn’t budge on the price. Oh well. Just down the road is Battle Run Campground, which is actually on the lake, has gorgeous grounds, spacious RV spots, a playground, sports complex and the fee per night was a mere $24. This campground is full, but the spots are big enough for 12 kids to run around in without bothering anyone and there are trees — even spots on the lake itself! As I write, they are fishing, playing basketball, and screaming like banshees on the playground! A real outdoor experience, not contrived and within an arms reach of your neighbor!
When RV’ing with kids, sometimes you don’t get what you pay for … oftentimes the cheapest campgrounds are the best for families. We are not fond of camping on top of other RV’s, we enjoy privacy and space more than game rooms and haughty owners. RV’ing for us is about family, fun and the adventures found in nature. It’s about unplugging and rejoicing in the simple glory of nature. It’s not found in gamerooms and touristy gimmicks. Rather, it’s found at the lake, on the river, on the mountain, in the rolling hills, in a hammock under the stars, on a blanket with a good book under the warm sun, chasing your toddler at the park, listening to uncontrollable laughter … this is our life. This is what we choose for our family and it’s as real as it gets. Some campground owners get this and it’s about the lifestyle … others don’t and it’s about lining their pockets.