"Homesteading" is a term many RVers use to describe those FamCamps that allow their sites to be used for extended periods of time by the same user. Military FamCamps are not exempt from this usage and some are rightfully providing a service to the user as well as the used. Take for instance NAF, El Centro, CA. It is an isolated base out in the southern CA desert who's claim to fame is their wintering tenant the famous Blue Angles. Some time ago we made our reservations in advance as required so we could spend the months of Jan & Feb there. We got there before the Blue Angles and the park was already completely full. There were more people camping there than the entire population of the base. What an asset for the small base. The smallish commissary & exchange were open six days a week. All were welcome to eat three times a day at the enlisted dinning facility for very reasonable rates I might add. And when the Bule's did arrive we were delighted by their acrobatics each day - you get used to the noise after a few days. We were told that the place is empty in the summer time with the exception of a few passers-by. This FamCamp caters to the long term winter resident and provides them with services not seen at much larger bases - such as service bays for your rig rather it be a motor coach or some sort of trailer or class B or C. They have all sorts of recreational rentals and a few small tour vans for short trips to Mexico or other places near-by. Oops I was going to keep this short so you would not lose interest and just got rambling on so I'll quit now. Make reservations and stop by for a month or two, I think you will like the place and have a first hand look at why this FamCamp prospers from the long term "Homesteader"/Snow Bird".
p.s. Even though we made our reservations in advance we still ended up in a 30 apm FHU site located in a parking lot backed up to a ball field.
2003 Everest 363K 38' 14K
2004 Dodge 3500 STL-DRW-QC-LB-2WD-4.10-AUTO-CTD
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Part Timers with sticks in SC
10 years 8 months ago #435
Interesting you brought El Centro RV Park up. The Featured Military Campground for April is El Centro! I'll have the in-depth review posted soon.
But a much further extreme of "Homesteading" is at Barstow Marine Corps RV Park, CA. This "RV" Park has 25 "RV" sites. Of which, only 2 are for short-term. The remaining 90%+ of the "RV" sites are used by residents. Some have been there over 3 years! Including a retired Colonel. I questioned them about it being an extension of base housing and not a "Recreational" Park. Basically, the long-term "guests" are a cash cow for them.
Thanks for making it long. It was very readable and interesting. But I question the definition of "Homesteader". You mention that the campground is nearly empty in the summer--that sounds more like "Snowbirds" than "Homesteaders". I would call Larry's resident colonel and his compadres "Homesteaders" and those are the ones who bother me. When they have time to build plywood sheds and decks they are no longer recreational, they are residents. But I also note that Larry's poll on length of stay is coming in at 1-2 months as the upper limits, but then few of those voting are homesteaders.
10 years 8 months ago #437
my personal take on "homesteaders" is that they are generally infringing on the ability of all military and retirees to use the facility equally. Nothing is more annoying to me to arrive at a CG and find half or more of the sites taken for six months or longer, and the rest full because of that policy. These FamCamps are by definition recreation facilities for all of us ... and should always remain available to travelers or campers, not to individuals choosing to snowbird in FamCamps (read as family campgrounds). When the CG has no waiting list, by all means, stay as long as one cares to, but it should never be a policy to allow one site to be a long-term facility for any one family.
10 years 8 months ago #442
I actually like the way Yuma Proving Grounds handles the "homesteader" situation. Their policy is up to six or seven month stays are permissible, BUT, they have a number of sites set aside for "weekly" stays. If they are full, you go into dry-camp until one opens up. If you're in a weekly site and there is a waiting list in dry camp, you rotate back out to dry camp to wait your turn in a weekly site again.
I think they could have a few more weekly sites, but their system seems to work ok. But if you want one of the 'long-term' sites, you'd better plan on being there early in the season.
Now, the situation up at Barstow? That is just wrong.
Capt. (LDO) USMC (Ret.)
Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan
10 years 8 months ago #443
Yes Mustang, but do you also think it's fair that the "traveling" families must continue to "rotate" in and out of a limited number of sites, while some families simply stay on one site as long as six months, or more. That to me is an unfair distribution of the sites ... remember, this is recreation not residential --
One campground at Tydell Airbase has the policy that ALL campers can register for two months, then every camper must move off a site after two months, go through the overflow sites, and then get another site -- just like travelers.
Of course, if no one is waiting, then by all means, stay longer. But what seems unfair to me is that some get to stay, and some must rotate ...
10 years 8 months ago #450
We stopped recently at Camp Shelby, MS and could not get in, it was filled with what are probably defined as homesteaders. BUT. This is an old WWII temporary base that was, until recently, a Mississippi National Guard post. During the build up to the Iraq War this became a staging facility for National Guardsmen being prepared to go to Iraq. The "homesteaders" are National Guard families whose bread-winner in on Active Duty. The Fam-Camp is serving a mission essential purpose, otherwise they would have to build more family housing or put more people out on an already overburdened economy.
These "homesteaders" can have my campsite any day, with my blessings.
But this is a unique set of circumstances, otherwise homesteaders are the bain of the traveling community.
10 years 8 months ago #454
And I absoluely agree that on-rotation military should get first shot at all the sites -- with my blessing as well. And even if I had a site and one of those families came along, I'd gladly move off and find another base, or another site, or get into overflow ... and salute when I did it.
However, I do believe that is not the majority of homesteaders ... I believe the majority *without actually asking directly any one of them* that most are onsite snowbirds, and not active-duty families using the site for a temporary home while the active-duty member is serving our country. And that makes the CG full when it should not be full.
10 years 8 months ago #463
Just so everyone knows where I stand on this issue, I voted for no more than a one-month stay without having to rotate out. (Exception? Nobody is waiting for a spot.)
I'm adamantly opposed to augmenting base housing with the FamCamps - that is not their purpose. BUT will quickly yield my spot to the families of deployed servicemen/women. "Exceptions to every rule" applies here.
However, we all know that until someone at the highest level takes notice and addresses the issue (yeah - that'll happen), local policy will continue to prevail. My point on Yuma was that at least they have a number of sites that you can get into, unlike places where you can never get into a site unless you're willing to get there in August to beat the "regulars" to their favorite spot. (And if you are parked in their special spot when they get there a week later, stand by for heavy rolls! ;D)
Note that I said they (Yuma) could have a few more weekly sites. But their system seems to work and is pretty close to a good balance as most people wait no more than a couple of days in dry camping before getting a weekly site, and some wait not at all. Now, if you're getting there during the Golden Knights "season", all bets are off.
Fair? Maybe not. Or reasonable compromise? I have expressed my opinion, but everyone will decide based on their point of view.
Capt. (LDO) USMC (Ret.)
Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan
10 years 8 months ago #464
Like Mustang, I also believe this is a great discussion topic. However, his statement that "until someone at the highest level takes notice and addresses the issue (yeah - that'll happen), local policy will continue to prevail." is a bit misleading. On most, if not all installations, FamCamps are operated by the NAF, and its operation is at the discretion of that facility's commander. I can think of several facilities whose commanders seem not to be interested in the operation of the FamCamp, and it shows! I can also point to a couple of FamCamps that have seemingly changed for the better/worse due the interest, or lack thereof as the commanders changed. Because some FamCamps (maybe all) are seen as cash cows by the military facility/NAF I do not expect much to change from what we are currently seeing - homesteading, ever-increasing prices, sites occupied by trailers for TDY personnel, PCS personnel as permanent residents, etc. Do I express my views on the operation of the various FamCamps as we travel about - YES! Hopefully, all of us do the same, because that, in my humble opinion is the only possible means available to change the way these recreational facilities are operated.
10 years 8 months ago #465
One other thought on this subject too -- regarding the "cash cows" comment ... which is probably more true than we'd like. But once again, an activity that once was simply for temporary and occasional enjoyment has been affected by the "cash- income" variable.
As more retired and active duty began enjoying this activity, it suddenly became another "budget item" to either be exploited or controlled to a greater degree. It is heading the way of other things in our world that have suddenly become about the money instead of the enjoyment. And don't get me wrong here ... I'm trying not to complain, but just to state some facts that are evident as the campground issues begin to kick up in the face of more extended use -- I'd like to know how many of the campgrounds were full ten or fifteen years ago ... before the advent of the livable RV units and the "full-timing lifestyle". It seems in some cases the FamCamps are moving towards something to exploit instead of something to share and enjoy ... and that truely saddens me ...
10 years 8 months ago #468
this topic has long been, a sore spot for me. I mentioned on another post, about some problems at FT Meade. Most of the sites there are DOD civilian, retired military, that are working as contractors, and some military. Originally when they opened they had 8 sites designated for military, but like most rules there, it did not last long. It is getting harder and harder to get a site there. In our travels I have noticed more and more Famcamps filling up. It is not hard to tell the homesteaders. Large Patio furniture, lots of plants, very large grills ect I feel that time should be limited, and I think Sam Houston, has the best policy. You can stay for a month, and have to leave, unless you are there for medical treatment. A month anywhere is long enough, and truly constitutes a RV park. I sure wish there was a way to send this site to all commanders, and MWR managers. It shows the good, bad and ugly, of famcamps.
10 years 8 months ago #474
I sure wish there was a way to send this site to all commanders, and MWR managers. It shows the good, bad and ugly, of famcamps.
Funny you mention this, I'm currently in the process of mailing postcards to all MWR's that I have an address for. These cards simply let them become aware of this website and invite's them to visit us and participate, and to keep their campground information current.
Except for the active duty, TDY, and reserve (on orders), I think the max should be two weeks, rotate out until you come back to the top of the list. To use the FAMCAMP/Travelcamp as cheap housing dramatically limits site availability to others. They are called RV parks and campgrounds, not housing areas. Just my humble opinion
10 years 8 months ago #479
:)Larry three cheers for you, taking the time to do this. I hope it helps. Will it do any good, just sending to MWR, if the base Commander, sets the policy, for the campgrounds? I know many people who have been to FT Meade, and left negative comments, but little has changed.
Larry keep up the good work, you put so much into this site, and I really appreciate it. ;D ;D
10 years 8 months ago #482
Will it do any good, just sending to MWR, if the base Commander, sets the policy, for the campgrounds?
Actually, my goal is to create awareness of the website with MWR and to solicit their participation here. I hope the CO eventually learns about the website. But I'm not on a campaign for questioning/adjusting their policies. Perhaps that's in the future.
Except for the active duty, TDY, and reserve (on orders),...
I don't mean to sound ungrateful to our active duty, but I don't agree active duty that are assigned to that base/post should be able to stay in that base/post's campground for extended stays, above the normal rules (which some are already too long). It's STILL a recreational park and not base housing. While arguably not enough, they DO get BAQ, VHA, separation allowance, etc (if that's what they're still called) to provide housing for their families. If they are permanently assigned there, then get an apartment or use base housing - NOT the recreational park! Perhaps the bases need to create base housing "RV parks". I do agree that active duty should have top priority on using military campgrounds, but only as a recreational facility. At Vandenberg AFB FamCamp, if you're stationed there or work in the area, you CAN'T extend your stay more than 2 weeks. Visiting recreational users can extend much longer.
As with many other things that are done to try and help Veterens or Retire's some
will ruin it for all. I have stayed at a couple of bases in the "off season" and had free
reign except for the sites the Homesteders were on. I talked with some of them and
one man was on his spot going into his 2nd Year! Now believe it or not he had his son
pick him up in his RV and let his brother who was also stationed there use his MH. While
He went with his son camping in his MH.
What will eventually happen is the bases that let this go on will be filled year round and
never have room for those that just want a week or 2. They will complain and then the
Base Commanders will shut the whole thing down. I can see how the base makes out on
the spot being rented all the time but they should IMHO have some kind of limit. I have
nothing against "Homesteders" But to a point don't abuse the system and ruin it for everyone.
10 years 8 months ago #549
We just got to FT Meade for 2 weeks, and the parks back in sites (cheaper) were all full, except for the one we reserved. We saw many of the same homesteaders, and some new ones here too. I do have to give credit to the MWR, they now have a two week rule, and that means the homesteaders must move every two weeks. We know some of the homesteaders, since we have been here many times, and they are not happy. Don't get me wrong I like many of these people, but things have gotten out of hand. I'm am glad that management is aware of the problem, and in doing so, trying to make room for people who just want to visit. I understand, if they have more reservations than spaces, the homesteaders have to leave. I hope this works for them, and it frees spaces for the rest of us. I suggest, to anyone who wants to stay at Ft Meade, to make reservations at least a week a head of time. :o
10 years 8 months ago #585
Gee, I thought I was the only one complaining about "Homesteaders". I stayed at Fort Huachuca this past winter and observed what appear to be retiree's spending the winter there from Oct through Mar. Atleast one I know off had been there for five months before he left and the only reason he left was that his house was ready. (retired command sgtmaj) I was there for 3 weeks, about a week before he departed, I saw several turned away because there was no room. Some of the RVs look as if they have not moved in several weeks. The length of stay is 90 days, but I think it should change to 30 days in order to allow full usage to all who have served.