Membership campground

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A membership campground is a private campground and/or RV park open only to members. Members typically pay a one-time membership fee and annual dues (membership fees) for the right to use the campground. A membership campground can operate independently, selling memberships to customers who have access only to that individual property, or they can operate as part of a system, in which case members can buy access to multiple campgrounds. Membership campgrounds tend to be geared toward the owners of recreational vehicles, but often offer rental accommodations and spaces for tent camping.

RV park place where people with recreational vehicles can stay overnight, or longer, in allotted spaces known as "sites" or "campsites".

A recreational vehicle park or caravan park is a place where people with recreational vehicles can stay overnight, or longer, in allotted spaces known as "sites" or "campsites". They are also referred to as campgrounds, though a true campground also provides facilities for tent camping; many facilities calling themselves "RV parks" also offer tent camping or cabins with limited facilities.

Tent temporary building which can be easily dismantled and which is portable

A tent is a shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over, attached to a frame of poles or attached to a supporting rope. While smaller tents may be free-standing or attached to the ground, large tents are usually anchored using guy ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs. First used as portable homes by nomads, tents are now more often used for recreational camping and as temporary shelters.

Camping outdoor recreational activity

Camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent or a recreational vehicle. Typically participants leave developed areas to spend time outdoors in more natural ones in pursuit of activities providing them enjoyment. To be regarded as "camping" a minimum of one night is spent outdoors, distinguishing it from day-tripping, picnicking, and other similarly short-term recreational activities. Camping can be enjoyed through all four seasons.


Membership Campgrounds in North America

In 2008, Thousand Trails, a company which owns membership campgrounds in the United States and Canada, claimed to operate "the world's largest network of private membership camping resorts." [1] It was merged with its principal competitor, NACO (National American Corporation), another membership campground company, in 1991. The total combined membership of Thousand Trails and NACO was 128,000 in 1996. [2] American companies such as Coast to Coast Resorts (formerly Camp Coast to Coast) and Resort Parks International offer memberships to networks of private campgrounds owned by multiple companies.

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails is a membership campground company operating private campground resorts in the United States and Canada. As of 2010, the company claimed to have 130,000 "member families" and over 80 preserves in 22 states and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Members typically pay a one-time membership fee and annual dues to use Thousand Trails campgrounds, which tend to cater to the owners of recreational vehicles. Over the years, Thousand Trails has offered different types of memberships. Some memberships allow members to stay for more continuous days at a campground and grant access to a greater number of total campgrounds.

Media Coverage and Criticism

Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times published articles on the growth of membership campground companies in 1980s. In each case, the coverage noted criticism of the industry and compared membership campgrounds to timeshares.

<i>Los Angeles Times</i> Daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper which has been published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It has the fourth largest circulation among United States newspapers, and is the largest U.S. newspaper not headquartered on the East Coast. The paper is known for its coverage of issues particularly salient to the U.S. West Coast, such as immigration trends and natural disasters. It has won more than 40 Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of these and other issues. As of June 18, 2018, ownership of the paper is controlled by Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the executive editor is Norman Pearlstine.

In an article entitled "Newest RV Phenomenon has Campgrounds Going RSVP" in the November 28, 1980, edition of the Los Angeles Times, staff writer Ted Vollmer characterized "membership-only resort parks catering to recreational vehicle owners" as "either about the smartest investment or the most ridiculous scheme ever served up to the camping public— depending on who's doing the talking." The same report noted that, "Unlike time-sharing schemes involving resort-area condominiums, the campground site is never owned by the camper who buys into a membership park. This fact alone has prompted some private campground owners and campers to question the wisdom of signing up at fees as high as $7,000." [3]

Resort Self-contained commercial establishment which attempts to provide for most of a vacationers wants

A resort is a self-contained commercial establishment that tries to provide most of a vacationer's wants, such as food, drink, lodging, sports, entertainment, and shopping, on the premises. The term resort may be used for a hotel property that provides an array of amenities, typically including entertainment and recreational activities. A hotel is frequently a central feature of a resort, such as the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island, Michigan. Some resorts are also condominium complexes that are timeshares or owed fractionally or wholly owned condominium. A resort is not always a commercial establishment operated by a single company, but in the late 20th century, that sort of facility became more common.

To invest is to allocate money in the expectation of some benefit in the future.

A condominium, often shortened to condo, in the United States of America and in most Canadian provinces, is a type of living space similar to an apartment but independently sellable and therefore regarded as real estate. The condominium building structure is divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned. Similar concepts in other English-speaking countries include strata title in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Canadian province of British Columbia; commonhold in the United Kingdom; and sectional title in South Africa.

On June 22, 1986, the New York Times ran an article entitled "Campgrounds that Double as Clubs," explaining that "membership campgrounds tout themselves as destination resorts, where families can get away for a weekend or longer in an atmosphere that is a mixture of natural retreat and private country club." The same article reported that Thousand Trails, Inc., had revenues of $128 million the previous year. It also noted that "Like time-share resorts, many of the membership campgrounds do mass mailings to invite people to tour their facilities. The trade press has sharply criticized them for badgering prospective customers with high-pressure sales techniques, or offering nonexistent prizes in promotions." [4]

Country club private club typically offering recreational sports facilities

A country club is a privately owned club, often with a membership quota and admittance by invitation or sponsorship, that generally offers both a variety of recreational sports and facilities for dining and entertaining. Typical athletic offerings are golf, tennis, and swimming. A country club is most commonly located in city outskirts or suburbs, and is distinguished from an urban athletic club by having substantial grounds for outdoor activities and a major focus on golf.

Advertising mail

Advertising mail, also known as direct mail, junk mail, mailshot or admail, is the delivery of advertising material to recipients of postal mail. The delivery of advertising mail forms a large and growing service for many postal services, and direct-mail marketing forms a significant portion of the direct marketing industry. Some organizations attempt to help people opt out of receiving advertising mail, in many cases motivated by a concern over its negative environmental impact.

Membership Campground Companies

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Hendy Woods State Park

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Big Meadows United States historic place

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Camping World Holdings, Inc. is an American corporation specializing in selling recreational vehicles (RVs), recreational vehicle parts, and recreational vehicle service. They also sell supplies for camping. The company has its headquarters in Lincolnshire, Illinois. In October 2016 it became a publicly traded company when it raised $251 million in an IPO. Camping World operates 120 retail/service locations in 36 states, and also sells goods through mail order and online. It claims to be the world's largest supplier of RV parts and supplies. Recently, it has become the title sponsor of the Camping World Stadium, as well as the Camping World Bowl, which is played in the same stadium. It’s also the official presenting sponsor of MLB’s League Championship Series.

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Good Sam Enterprises is a provider of membership clubs, as well as subscription-based products, services and publications, targeted toward recreational vehicle and other outdoor enthusiasts in the United States and Canada. Additionally, the company operates 82 stores of Camping World, a leading RV-related specialty retailer, and, an RV-focused website.

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The Good Sam Club is an international organization of recreational vehicle (RV) owners and the largest organization of RV owners in the world. It is focused upon making RVing safer and more enjoyable, and to save members money through club-endorsed benefits and services. It states that it has over 2.185 million members. It was founded in 1966, and is currently owned by the Good Sam Enterprises. The organization is affiliated with RV parks and campgrounds.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-01-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Los Angeles Times, Nov. 28, 1980, page SD A1
  4. New York Times, June 22, 1986, page F17