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Filed under: Entertaining Kids at Camp, Family Camping, Tent Campgrounds, The RVs We Drive

Why My RV of Choice is Not an RV

September 22, 2011 by · 9 Comments 


The Revelations & Denials of a Happy Tent Camper…

With an entire week devoted to our bloggers’ “RVs of Choice” I felt the need to represent tent campers just like me across North America, who faithfully read the Woodall’s Camping Blog enjoying posts about camp-cooking, unique things to do, and tips for not killing your kids on road trips.  See, there is a misnomer amongst RVers that tent campers are in a deeply jealous state of their luxurious RV accommodations, while in fact that often isn’t the case at all. (The truth is, is tent campers are only a little jealous, and slightly more so during winter months.)

Catalina tent camping

Our littlest camper in 2011

RVers and tent campers are cut out of the same cloth. In fact, how many of you RVers enjoyed tent camping for years before finally deciding that even the air mattress on the ground isn’t going to provide your grown-up bones with enough comfort to continue on in a tent?  At Woodall’s we enjoy reading the annual reader survey results for the question, how long have you camped? And find hundreds of answers that are similar – we tent camped 30 years, and bought our first RV 8 years ago.  There are amazing similarities between tent and RV campers – both groups love the great outdoors, enjoy the impulsive freedom of being able to pick up and go on a whim, and welcome the gratification that comes with meeting people who are part of the open, authentic camping community.

Tenting at the beach

The outdoors really does bring the best out of kids!

It is true. I love my tent. As a single mom with 3 children (one who is an x-box loving, ear-bud wearing, pre-teen electronic junkie), there isn’t much that is more enjoyable than getting away from it all and saturating ourselves in the serenity of nature on a camping trip.  Pro’s of tent camping include:

  • Economics – Not only is a tent itself a lot cheaper than an RV, but there is no costly maintenance, annual registration or gasoline purchases.  I also don’t have to spend as much to secure a nightly tent camping site – even if I splurge and enjoy a site with both water and electricity!
  • Cleanliness – Don’t laugh at this one. You have to carry a vacuum in your RV. I just pick my tent up and shake it out.
  • Camping authenticity -  C’mon , how many times have you heard people walk into your RV and say, Whoa! You call this camping? There is now and will always be something authentic and genuine about the tent camping experience – from cooking on the open flame of the campfire, to looking at the stars through the mesh screen top of the tent.

Truly, tent camping is a ritual like no other, and it’s an affordable North American pastime that allows families to come together.  But it would be shameless and horribly biased if I didn’t mention a few of the con’s of tent camping as well:

  • You sleep on the ground
  • You sleep on the ground
  • You sleep on the ground

There. I think that about covers it.  Other than that, it’s really not so bad.  … Well, using a smelly porta potty in the middle of the pitched black night, while you hold tight to your flashlight that is barely secured by your chin pressed down against your chest, trying not to drop it into the hole as you wiggle out of your long johns isn’t so great either.  But other than that, it’s really not so bad.

One thing is certain – camping of any kind serves as a vehicle to the travel adventures we all crave – even if our camping vehicle isn’t a recreational vehicle at all!   Side-by-side, we’re all out there enjoying the expansive outdoors, visiting National Parks, enjoying matchless adventures and creating cherished memories.  Happy camping to all of you this year and beyond! I’ll see you out there on the open road.

- Genevieve

Genevieve Branco is the Director of Marketing and Customer Experience for Woodall’s and has been enjoying camping since long before she joined the Woodall’s family 8 years ago.


9 Responses to “Why My RV of Choice is Not an RV”
  1. Kristy says:

    We hear you, Genevieve! I grew up tent camping and my most cherished childhood vacation memories involve tent pitching, sleeping bags on hard ground that somehow always find the dew puddles long before its plausible to get up for the day, and middle of the night laughs as my mom sits up screaming because there is a raccoon staring straight at her through the door screen.

    Being . . uh hum . . . 30+ years later and raising a family of my own on camping, we finally evolved to an RV but we hold tight to some fundamental aspects that we enjoyed the most while tent camping like no TV’s (our kids are grown and gone and we still don’t allow one!), we cook outside either over open fire or on a grill (just as we did when tenting), and our favorite places to camp are in primitive areas – so, technically, we still backpack our essentials in it’s just that our backpack is a bit larger then it used to be. LOL

    I guess what I’m saying is that you are totally correct! Whether we are in a tent, camper, trailer or motorhome it’s the love and enjoyment of the great outdoors that makes us “campers” not the vessel in which we travel.

  2. POBoy says:

    You are right on!! My family has camped since 1959, starting (and for a long time) in tents. As age crept up we graduated to a pop-up and finally to a deisel pusher pusher. We still do our cooking outdoors but the ground does not feel so good to hte arthritic bones! But after so many back-packing trips, Boy Scout camping trips and just family fun I still miss the tent. I must admit, I miss it less in January than in June. How ever you do it, keep on camping!

  3. Kathy says:

    we’ve been tenting for 33 years and still at it. One of our first trips was with my father-in-laws’ lean to type tent…you know the kind with out the floor so you are on dirt. well lets just say immunizations and tenting is not a good idea. The kid in question throw-up that wasn’t the problem it was the skunk that ate it. Kid went right back to sleep so he didn’t see the skunk but mom did. trying not to gag was so hard. after that I slept in the car. we were only there for the week end but we decided to come back home and not to use that tent again. Next year tent with floor.

  4. Professor95 says:

    We may have a big fifth wheel now, but it all started with a tent. Our first tent was olive green canvas and had fat wooden poles with ropes running to stakes that keep it up.. I guess we were “high class” because we slept on surplus canvas/wood folding army cots – so you don’t really have to sleep on the ground in a tent!!. I will never forget the smell of the canvas tent – when I get a whiff of a smell like it had, I experience a flood of fond memories. I had all the tent camping gear organized in homemade wooden boxes. I still have the Coleman “white” gas stove and lanterns – as well as the kerosene wick lantern – we used. Those were truly great times – but so are the ones today in the fiver. BTW – we made “Cowboy Coffee” over the campfire. Do you know what that is?
    - Randy

  5. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Genevieve,

    We started in ‘suggans’ on the ground, then ‘moved up’ to tents; first wall, then domes, then mounted
    the dome on a flat-bed trailer, then a Streamline(bullet) NOW a motorhome!!! Ran the gamut!!
    My dad was a campfire ‘chef’; with all of the camp ‘cookware’,which my brother needing space for his new P-U, hauled to the landfill!!! Yeah, Randy, I know what ‘Cowboy’ coffee is; you can smell it 2 miles away, when the breeze is right!!! And NOTHING tastes better after a long day !! (First you take a 2 gallon
    blue-speckeled porcelain coffee-pot, pour in a FULL POUND of fresh ground coffee beans, fill it 3/4 full of river-water, put it on the fahr and let’er boil !!!) THATZ COFFEE !! E-LIK-ZER FOR THE GODS !!!

    The raccoon looking in the tent was a good one !!!

  6. ABrose says:

    Our Woods canvas tent is now approaching 42 years of age and other than a new zipper and the patches where a young bear decided he liked the sound of ripping canvas (day time visit to an empty tent, no other damage – he just wanted to play), it is still in usable condition. It hasn’t been used for a few years but our grandsons will soon be old enough to try it out. We moved to a tent trailer when our second daughter arrived and I just wasn’t up to dealing with a 2 month-old in a tent, although hubby still used it for many more years for his annual hunting trips in northern AB (that is where the bear visited). And it was a favorite for our younger daughter until school and work interfered with her joining us on summer vacations. After a couple of truck campers (a bathroom became a priority when bush camping with two girls), hubby and I tried tenting again but one weekend spent in the foothills with a foot of snow on the ground and a second with non-stop cold winds, I said no more tents! However, when the family reminisces about camping trips, it is the tenting adventures that take top billing!
    We now enjoy the nice warm bed, roomy bathroom, big fridge, etc in our Class A MH but my favorite RV was probably the little 7.5 foot camper on our 1-ton Toyota that took us to the Yukon and Alaska one summer. It was great to come home from a weekend trip with the little fridge empty (no room to pack all those “might use” items) and with two swipes of the broom, the floor was clean!

  7. chipmonk39 says:

    I’ll get an Rv someday,but my choice most likely will be a Eurovan.I am still a hard core tent camper 64 years young and not ready for a full size RV.If you still need a tv and microwave and a queen size bed in order to complete your camping trip, you’re still a wimpy camper.I have spent nights in my camping site entertained by millions of stars,shooting stars,jets flying overhead, sounds of wildlife in and around my campsite,curious bears walking thru the campsites.These are events ,good and bad,RV’rs will miss when they camped out in their rv.To each their own, but I agree with others ,that the overhead cost of owning an rv when you can’t afford one, is what kills the deal for me.I can purchase a high end, high quality tent for the cost of a couple of fuel fill-up’s and have that same tent for quite a few camping adventures

  8. Genevieve says:

    It is so cool to hear from all the family campers and tenters who spoke up about my post. I’m glad that I “represented” us! You guys are awesome and very encouraging! Makes me wanna get out this weekend! Happy camping to all of you!

  9. John Lackner says:

    1. price – how many RV’s can you buy NEW for $150?
    2. size – takes up about 3 cubic feet when folded, fits in almost any vehicle, and can be stowed just about anywhere
    3. light weight – can be “towed” with just about any vehicle, including a Prius.
    1. Crappy weather resistance- tents get flooded in rain, buried in snow, blown away in wind. Try sleeping in a tent on a 38-degree rainy night with a 40-mph wind.
    2. Noise – you hear everything going on outside, and everyone outside can hear what’s going on inside.
    3 . critters can chew right through. Not much resistance to arrogant bears and mountain lions, either.
    4. Usually takes about an hour to fully set up or break down the. Vital assembly components are easy to break or lose, and you may not realize until you arrive at the campsite that a crucial component is not there.
    1. Comes fully assembled. Just park and open the door. You’re done. However, popups are somewhere in between the two.
    2. Insulated hard walls, floor and ceiling. Keeps you warm on cool nights if you have a heater. Also keeps noise inside or outside. Can cook in the rain. Let the wind and rain blow – no problem.
    3 Shower and bathroom.
    4. Storage. you can bring “stuff” you otherwise would have left behind. You can also keep it in there all the time.
    5. Comes in handy when friends and relatives come to visit.
    1. Price – if you have to ask how much it costs, there is a high probability you can’t afford it.
    2. Size – where are you going to put the thing when you’re not using it?
    3. Fuel. Not only is the vehicle itself expensive, it takes an outrageous amount of fuel to move. Ironic point here – you’re going to “enjoy nature” while putting tons of destructive co2 in the air, and giving your money to an environmentally destructive oil industry.
    4. Maintenance. It always needs something.

    Sure, nothing beats a reasonably sized RV when it comes to convenience at the campsite. However, tents have allowed many people to make discoveries they never would have been able to make without one.

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