by Chris Poindexter
As looked by through the topic list for My House Has Wheels, it dawned on me that I hadn’t spent a great deal of time on the community aspect of RV living. What makes that strange is that the sense of community one experiences at RV parks is one of the more attractive qualities of the RV lifestyle. Maybe the reason it doesn’t get much press is that it’s hard to actually quantify and document.
Despite the transient nature of RV parks, they are a community. At the core of every park is a group of people who either live there full time or come back every season, year after year, and there will always be a few who have done so as long as the park has been open. They’re not so much renters as family and will frequently be at the center of many social functions. Sometimes they’re employed as workampers or social activity coordinators. It is the presence of these park “family” members that give RV parks personality and a sense of camaraderie.
RV parks also tend to be more laid back than suburban communities because there are few kids and the few there might be are attached to transient families on vacation. Since most are gated and most have security patrols, there is, for the most part, very little crime. Far less than any urban or suburban neighborhood I’ve ever lived in.
At The Great Outdoors in Titusville, our hands down favorite RV park ever and the one I hold up most frequently as an example of RV park done right, the entrance controls and park security were exceptionally good. Most of our neighbors rarely locked their doors, we still locked ours but never worried about being gone.
Even if park security isn’t as good, due to the density of campers in an RV park, very little happens on a street that isn’t visible to several of your neighbors. At one park I could sit at our picnic table and count 20 campers we could see well enough to know if someone who didn’t belong was hanging around.
Most parks also implement quiet hours, which usually starts at 9 or 10 at night, and that keeps raucous behavior to a minimum though quiet time is enforced with some leniency in most places.
The sense of security, the proximity of the quarters and social activities all blend together to create a sense of community that makes life in an RV a unique experience. Most of the time you’ll know your neighbors and they’ll know you. Any hobby you have will likely be shared by several others. I never lacked for a fishing buddy on days I didn’t feel like going by myself. Other social activities included potluck dinners, casino buses, golf outings, cruises, card parties, book clubs, and motorcycle tours. If you ever run out of things to do at most RV parks, it’s by choice.
Living in RV parks reminds you that humans are social animals; collective action and mutual support is how we came to dominate life on this planet. Collectivism has a bad name in certain political circles these days but it’s how humans have accomplished everything in our history we point to as a marvel. What I find amusing is the number of people espousing rugged individualism as a political philosophy yet living a very collective RV lifestyle.
What’s good about RV life can also be the bad if you don’t fit in with the peculiar personality of an RV park. It will be more than not fitting in, you’ll have a persistent feeling you should be moving on. Pay attention to that feeling. If you’re not having fun and making friends pack up and go. The character of every park is different and it’s just a matter of finding the one that fits your personality.