How campgrounds like Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park discriminate against older campers

One thing that I never once considered when planning my camper build is we might be turned away because we did the interior finish ourselves. I was also stunned because, during all our years on the road, I had never heard of something that happened to some of our close friends.

Home Builds Not Welcome

Our friends Chuck and Denise got a shock when they went to Port Canaveral’s campground at Jetty Park. They got turned away because they didn’t have an RVIA sticker on their camper. They were meeting some other mutual friends of ours there and they watched in bewilderment as Chuck and Denise pulled in and then drove away a few minutes later. Judging by the number of calls other campgrounds in the area get, a lot of people are turned away at Jetty Park Campground, a practice I consider both unsupportable and dangerous.

What Is RVIA?

Going to the laundromat is a thing of the past with these apartment-size washers.

RVIA is a manufacturer’s association that enforces build standards for RVs and campers. Manufacturers self-certify compliance, so it’s really just a sticker program. If you bought your camper in the last ten years you should find a foil sticker on the side near the door that says RVIA. Going through a nearby camper storage lot with 9 campers, only 5 had RVIA stickers. One missing the sticker was a Winnebago another was a Class A that had been repainted.

Kicked Out On The Street

Our friends were shocked and hurt more than endangered, but my concern is for people who drove long hours to get there. All of us have experienced being on the road, dealing with traffic, and being dead flat tired when we finally get to the campground. Imagine getting there after that tiring journey and finding out you can’t stay because you don’t have an RV industry sticker. What a horrible thing to do to people. And it’s not obvious on the website and they don’t make an issue of it when you make a reservation. I had to hunt around on their website to find this:

Camping vehicles must be RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) approved with a visible RVIA symbol. Sleeping in a car, van, or other non-recognized RVIA vehicle is not considered camping and is prohibited.

I’m sure vandwellers, “schoolies” who have converted school buses, people who converted cargo trailers, and those who restore vintage campers will all be surprised to discover that, according to Port Canaveral, they’re not considered campers.

Safety Is Not The Real Issue

If safety was really the concern, the park could just ask those guests without a sticker to sign a waiver of liability or a hold harmless declaration. But they don’t do that, they turn them away. Jetty Park’s policy is not only insulting, but putting people who may be fatigued from driving all day back on the road with an uncertain destination is potentially dangerous and puts the travelers, and the people they share the road with, at risk. Beyond that the idea behind campgrounds on public land is that they’re supposed to be inclusive, not looking for reasons to exclude people.

It’s Not An Appearance Issue Either

Private campgrounds all have some appearance standards, some more than others. If you have a really junky old camper, you will have occasional problems not being able to stay places. But Jetty Park allows tent camping and that section looks like a refugee camp. If looks are that important to them, then get rid of the tents.

Overall Jetty Park’s policy is both draconian and baffling. That’s the kind of provision that gets slipped into rules due to political connections. Maybe an RV dealer donates to one of the Port Commissioners, maybe one of them is an RV dealer or salesman.

Doing an internet search on the subject turns up few instances of campgrounds that insist on the sticker. And, as I mentioned above, we lived on the road for years and never heard of RVIA. Our friends who got turned away at Jetty Park Campground have only had that one bad experience but they’re super-nice people and we all felt bad for them. Not to mention the $100 in diesel they burned getting there. Shame on you Port Canaveral and Jetty Park Campground. Shame on you.

I reached out to Port Canaveral for comment through their Facebook page but no one in their media relations department got back to me before the article was ready.

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