Year-Round Kid-Friendly RV Parks Welcome Families
In the past, kid-friendly RV parks were mainly open for business between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But not anymore. The coronavirus pandemic obliterated the traditional school year. Today, many RVing families with young children are on the road year-round. But are they finding just as many year-round kid-friendly RV parks along the way? The answer depends on who you ask.
The Never-ending RVing Summer
The RV industry was turned on its head when COVID-19 changed the world. Families desperate for a summer getaway decided to try RVing in early summer and many of them are sticking with it long into the school year. Improved campground Internet access is allowing mom and dad to work from home and kids can keep getting educated online.
In winter 2020 and beyond, RV parks and campgrounds will continue seeing record numbers of campers in every season. At least, where the weather is mild enough to camp. But as any full-time parents on the road with kids can tell you, some campgrounds lay out the welcome mat for parents and their young children—and some not so much.
“We are currently near KCMO and the park we are at is super kid friendly they do activities every weekend for kids in the summer till end of October,” says Jas Kaiser. In the Facebook group Full-time RV Families, she says “Every place we have stayed so far seems pretty kid friendly but the one we are at (Basswood Resort) is our fav so far. They are a little more pricey but its pretty nice.”
A New Era of Kid-Friendly RV Parks is Here
The Kaiser family has joined the growing ranks of RVers traveling with kids. According to the Fall 2020 Special North American Camping Report (Pandemic Edition) by Kampgrounds of America, 82% of first-time campers are traveling with children. And 43% of those campers with kids say they will “definitely” be able to extend the camping season if learning online remains an option.
In response to the many kids on the roads, parks like Campland on the Bay®, which bills itself as “San Diego’s ultimate ‘workation’ destination,” has created an Open-Air Study Hall.
The family-friendly waterfront resort welcomes road schooling families. They can utilize the amenity weekdays from 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m. through the school year. The open-air shaded area offers a quiet place for kids to attend school virtually and complete assignments. Thoughtfully spaced tables equipped with power supply and wireless internet access are available. Family groups can reserve a first-come, first served private table during their stay for the duration of their child’s distance-learning hours.
RV Park Neighbors Learning to Co-Exist May Take Longer
“During this unprecedented time where remote learning and working has become the norm, many parents are realizing that they don’t have to wait for the weekend to go somewhere fun—as long as they have WiFi,” said Ahmed Ait-Lahcen, General Manager of Campland on the Bay. “We wanted to provide a quiet and comfortable space for parents and kids to complete their work while staying with us so they can spend more time creating cherished family memories.”
Many RV parks like Campland-on-the-Bay are embracing the new surge in full-time families. But not every guest is as enthusiastic about their young neighbors. “There are certainly a lot of kid-friendly parks, at least outside of Arizona,” says Jason Epperson. “But have they become more kid friendly? I’m not so sure. I think most are just trying to do their best in a crazy year, while others are bristling at the increase in full-time families. I’ve seen more people this year mention that they’ve had an issue with a park discriminating against them because they don’t think living on the road is a life for kids.”
Another full-time RVing dad, Tim Justice, agrees. “We were in a park that advertises as family friendly; once they realized we were full timers, the owner pressured us out, and sadly tried to get us to rent one of his rentals as an alternative because “that’s no kind of life for a kid.”
More Kids on the Road, More Kid-Friendly Campground Amenities
Of course the occasional grumpy RV park neighbor can get vocal. But overall, it appears that most full-time RVing families encounter more positive than negative experiences on the road. “We stayed at the Thompson / Grand River Valley KOA in Thompson Ohio with our two boys ages 11 and 13 for 4 months and the owners and the park is all about kids and creating a safe fun environment for them,” says Dustin Pettrey. “They have a huge jump pad, fishing pond, swimming pond with new water trampoline and slide and snack shack, then they do all kinds of events for the kids. Currently we are at a campground in North Carolina near the coast and it is kid-friendly as the owners have two kids that are present most of the time so it’s nice for kids.”
The exponential growth in full-time RVing families and new weekend warrior kids and parents isn’t expected to slow down in 2021. Of the brand new campers in 2020 surveyed by KOA, 18% say they will continue camping in 2021. A 2019 Campground Trends Study shows that kids play a significant role in where they go. Families on the road will be glad to know that their new generation of RVers and campers has a huge influence on the growth of the kid-friendly RV parks. They can expect to see more amenities like those found at Campland on the Bay as the pandemic rolls on.
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.