Wireless Internet Access a Top Amenity for Today’s Modern Campers

Date Released: 07/31/2007
Michigan Campgrounds Get Connected
This isn’t your grandfather’s campground. Today’s modern campers are placing wireless internet access as a top amenity when searching for a place to park their RVs and pitch their tents.

“We have had several campers that wireless internet was critical to their decision to use our campground,” say Dave and Reva Basinger of Hidden Hill Family Campground in Harrison. “Reasons have varied between being business oriented to being the lifeline to family members.”

From checking email to accessing online mapping systems and checking weather reports and local visitor bureau websites for event listings, staying online while camping is becoming more commonplace.

“A lot of people use it to pay bills while they are on the road or just check email,” says Georganne Hornacek of the Gaylord KOA. “I also have campers who take online classes and they are able to access it right from their site.”

Campgrounds looking to add wireless internet should fully research all options, including talking to other nearby campgrounds who’ve successfully navigated the system. Because campgrounds are often located in wooded, remote areas, technology needs are different than they are in metropolitan areas.

“Our campground is in a heavily wooded pine forest and terraced sites on a hill – both tough factors to overcome,” says Joan Holz at Holiday Camping Resort in New Era. “As leaves grew this spring, there was another challenge to address. We’ve added more routers this year for better access throughout the park.”

Frank Rogala from Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in Mackinaw City agrees that researching options is of utmost importance when adding wireless internet to a campground facility. After trial and error and more error, he was finally able to get his system running efficiently.

“I finally convinced my partners that giving our customers a strong dependable signal that they can access in their camper would make them happy as well as making them feel more secure and confident about purchasing time,” Rogala says. “I just had a note form the office manager that we recently had a camper pass on a 30-amp hookup and drop down to a 20-amp site just to be in the wifi area.”

Once the technological issues have been taken care of, campground owners would benefit by providing a list of local websites to their campers upon check-in. That list would include websites for the chamber, convention & visitor bureau, local newspaper, museums, attractions and bike trails, as well as regional and statewide associations such as West Michigan Tourist Association, Upper Peninsula Tourism & Recreation Association and Travel Michigan.

“The free wifi at the campground is a great benefit,” says camper Chad Bowers from Benton Harbor, who recently camped at Clementz Northcountry Campground in Newberry in the Upper Peninsula. Full-time RVers Al and Sharon Florida from San Antonio, Texas agree. “The Northcountry Campground is the nicest campground we have seen in the UP,” they say. “Very nice open grass sites with cable TV and the free wifi near the office is a real plus.”

The wireless internet access is getting considerable use at Clementz’s, according to Cathy Clementz. “It has gotten to the point that we had to create a set of ‘WiFi Etiquette Guidelines’ so people wouldn’t be blocking the road using other people’s campsites or using too much time in the lobby,” Cathy says. “Our wifi has about a 200-300 foot radius from the office and is password protected.”

Campgrounds unable to handle wireless internet may opt to add a desktop station in the recreation room that campers can use to check email and access websites. Or, if nothing else, provide directions to the local library, coffee shop or other locations where internet access is available.

“We have found the addition of a wifi hotspot to assist in store sales, as they usually grab a pop or ice cream while their computer boots up,” says Jon Lawrence, CPO and Camp Director of Myers Lake United Methodist Campground in Byron. “It has made the deck in front of the office a more festive and social place among campers and staff.”

Campers looking for more information on how to access the internet from the road may be interested in the “RVer’s Guide to Internet Access on the Road” by long-time RVer Steven Fletcher. The PDF e-book is available for $10.95 and is available for download in a matter of minutes. In this well-researched e-book, Fletcher offers a comprehensive look at all the methods available to get online from the RV road, many of which he has personally used.

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