Life as a senior does not march in lock step. There are alternatives and the following describes one.

After thirty years of camping experience, my wife Nancy and I believed we were prepared to transition to a full time RV life. We sold our house and purchased a membership in a camping club that allowed us to camp for no cost after paying an annual fee of $480.00 dollars. The one stipulation was having to move to another campground every two or three weeks. The moving around gave us an opportunity to see other places and meet more people. Our primary goal was to stay in the northern states through the warmer spring, summer, and fall months and head for Florida before the cold weather moved in. This gave us plenty of time to see our children and grandchildren in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

For those of you reading this who have experienced the camping life know and understand living close to people is part of the life style. Perhaps that’s why we are such a friendly bunch. The people who are less friendly will want to have greater distance between themselves and their neighbors. Not only the close space but also the respect we campers show each other seems to create a positive lifestyle. I’m not saying we are all a wonderful group of friendly people but there is one great advantage we have over the home owner. Our home has wheels and our hookups are easy to disconnect. I’ve met people from different parts of the country and with backgrounds that ranged from a retired judge to a retired Navy Admiral.

In one of the campgrounds we stayed in I met a couple traveling with five children two dogs and a cat. They were in a thirty-three-foot travel trailer pulled by a pickup that was loaded with bicycles. The parents told me they home schooled the children and the father worked as a computer programmer. The Dad told me he especially enjoyed seeing the way the kids learned geography that they could actually see for themselves. The example he used was the Grand Canyon and what better way to learn about it than to be there.

A 36′ motor home on the way from a weekend camping trip stops at a rest area.

Traveling through the mountains of Colorado or the shores of the east coast is an experience we all should have. This would help to give us a better understanding of how fortunate we are to live in this country. One of my favorite states to visit was Arizona. From the deserts to the mountains I was always thrilled by the amazing sites. When our daughter and her family lived in Tucson, we spent most of a three-week vacation enjoying the area. Now that we are staying in Florida during the winter months this gives the kids a place to escape to when their weather turns cold and nasty. I sometimes wonder how we made it through the long winters of northern Michigan. Actually I do recall flying out to Sun City Arizona where Nancy’s father lived. We usually went after the Christmas holidays. Being able to do the same for our children is a great pay back.

Making new friendships is one of the big pluses of traveling through the country. When I walked the dogs for exercise and to do their daily jobs, people would smile and make nice comments about how cute they were. Then I would often stop and begin a conversation which could last for thirty minutes or more. Some of those conversations would lead to an evening get together. We would play games or talk about family or places we’ve been to. Finding the best attractions was made much easier when someone told you how great it was and how to get there or how to solve a problem with the camper. There was never a shortage of good ideas and sometimes not such good ones. You learn to smile and nod your head, telling them how much you appreciate their suggestions.

One of the projects we worked on before taking off on our full time adventures was a musical show we put together to perform at the campgrounds we stayed at. We played nine different instruments plus vocals. The music covered show tunes, Irish, country and ragtime. We made a little money and had a lot of fun. Some of the campers made decorative hanging lights and many colorful kitchen towels were on display throughout the campsites. One of our good friends repaired computers and I remember a lady in one of the Florida campgrounds cut hair. Most of the places we stayed at would have a one day a month craft show or yard sale. One of the local farmers sold fresh fruit and vegetables every Saturday morning at a campground in PA.

The holidays gave us a chance to decorate the camper with pumpkins and skeletons with orange lights for Halloween or red and green for Christmas. There was a contest to see who had the most decorative site. The place we stayed at during the Christmas holidays had a dinner with all the fixings for the whole campground. We had a spirited group of carolers who traveled around the campsites singing to anyone that opened their doors. Every Sunday was church service in the main hall. We played our instruments one Sunday and got some nice compliments. Living the camping life is an experience I will always feel good about. The friendships we made and experiences we had will be with us forever.

Contributed by:  Joe Helveston


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5 thoughts on “Full Time Camping in Retirement

  1. Gene – I enjoyed reading your brother Joe’s full-time camping story. What grand memories he and his wife have! We had many camping vacations with our children. They continue to reminisce about those times, and they’re most all in their 50s now! Also the summary and questions for AGE OF INNOCENCE are great incentive for beginning our next book group selection. I’ll begin tonight! Sue H.

  2. The Helveston boys have the gift of writing well, I enjoyed Joe’s description of the
    mobile home life…something I always thought would be a great adventure in retirement,
    Continued “Happy Trails” joe!!! and thanks.
    Sandra H.

  3. Joe,
    Very well written, with endearing stories. Loved reading about the family sharing the open road with their children, very unique; as well as, very special for children to experience the beauty of our country, while soaking in all its historical significance.

  4. It was great getting to read some of my dad’s thoughts about camping life. Enjoyed our own family camping adventures with him, and I’m now doing the same with my own kids! Thanks, Dad, for the memories!

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