10 Advantages of a Seasonal Camping Site

I didn’t post over the weekend as we were camping at our seasonal site at Echo Valley Provincial Park.

We’ve had our camper for three years (two full summers since we bought it in August of our first year) but so far, we’ve only done quick hit trips – a week here, a weekend there. Shea’s folks have had a seasonal site at a regional park outside of Weyburn for a decade and having seen some of the advantages of a seasonal site firsthand, we decided to try our hand at a seasonal site as well.  We were fortunate to get drawn for one of our top picks at the provincial park nearest Regina.

(When entering the draw way back in January, we had to put our top 40 picks of the 100 or so sites the park has available in ranked order.  There were somewhere around 500 entries but we ended up getting picked for a site that I’m pretty sure was in our top three – close to the playground, on a corner spot so only has neighbours on one side, close to washrooms.)

After spending our first long weekend at the park, here are some of the advantages over nightly camping (some I knew before, some I realised this weekend while talking to other seasonal campers or that I figured out on my own.)

  1. The best part of camping is…camping.  If you have a seasonal site, you’re not spending a lot of time loading your camper, hooking up, hauling it out to a campground that could be anywhere from one to three hours away, getting it positioned/leveled/set-up and setting up camp, all of which are things that cut into the already limited amount of time you have when camping on a night-by-night basis.
  2. A related point is that we pull our rPod with a minivan.  All the numbers check-out in terms of tow capacity, tongue weight, etc. but it always feels like our tow vehicle should be just a bit bigger to be completely comfortable (ironically, the only true “white knuckle” drive I’ve had with the rPod was coming back from Echo with a serious crosswind!)
  3. This could go either way but you get to camp near the same people for the whole summer.  Luckily, our neighbours are a young couple who live in the same area of Regina as us, the wife runs a daycare centre that’s served by my library, and they have two daughters, one of whom is Sasha’s age.
  4. When the site is yours for the summer, you can make it a bit more of a “home away from home”. So far, we’ve put up a flag, a lean-to to keep our wood dry, some lights.  Shea’s dad is building us a platform to help her reach our back kitchen which is fairly high in our site and we’ve got a few other ideas for things we might add to our site that we likely wouldn’t do if we were only camping in it for a short time.
  5. On a similar note, you can leave stuff from week to week.  Normally, when you’re finished with a site after a few nights, you have to pack up everything and go.  We’re able to leave some clothes, some food, some drinks and other necessities at the site so we don’t have to haul as much once we took our first big load of supplies.
  6. You don’t have to check-out early.  One of the things I hadn’t thought about but that another experienced seasonal camper pointed out – nightly campers have to check out by noon so, for example on the Monday of a long weekend, they have to be packed and ready by midday at the latest (and earlier if they want to beat the rush.)  But if you’re in a seasonal site, you can linger through the afternoon (which is often the nicest part of the day), often with much of the park to yourself.
  7. You also don’t have to participate in the “potty parade” which is when all the nightly campers start lining up around 9am and then there’s a constant line of campers waiting to get to the sewer dump station that can back up for quite a distance and is also a big waste of your limited holiday time.
  8. Free wood!  After the campground clears out a bit, you can check some of the nearby vacated sites and “liberate” any wood that is left behind. 😉   (Er, the etiquette of this is a bit unclear – if the site is vacant but there is wood left behind, is it free game or is it meant to be left for the next person to come to the site?  My take is no one expects wood in their site when they check-in so it’s fair game to take it but that’s just me. I know many nightly campers do this too – grabbing wood left in nearby sites as long as they are empty.)
  9. When you’re in a nightly site, you might be reluctant to “waste” your holiday time by exploring nearby towns or attractions but knowing we’ll be in our site for the whole summer makes it more likely that we’ll visit nearby communities and attractions.
  10. I mentioned that you get to know your neighbours but I suspect we’ll also get to know some of the other seasonal campers as the summer goes on – Shea has a co-worker in a seasonal site in a nearby campground who we already visited with a couple times over the weekend, I introduced myself to some of the other seasonal campers near us and even the kids were already starting to get to know some of the other kids who were in seasonal sites.Bonus point: Since the campground we’re at is only 45 minutes from Regina, it’s close enough that we don’t have to make big plans to go.  And since everything is there and basically ready to go, we can decide to run out on a Tuesday night, have a hot dog and a walk in the fresh air and still be back for the kids’ bedtime if we want.

We’re likely paying a premium to have a seasonal site versus what we’d pay if we only paid the nightly rate every time we plan to go out over the summer.  But once you add up all the advantages that a seasonal site gives you, I think it’ll end up being worth it!

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