Question: Dear Luise: You have mentioned camping clubs in general and Port Susan Camping Club, specifically, many times. We wanted to ask you whether all camping clubs are pretty much the same…and if not, what to look for in a camping club? The concept sounds like a good one to us. Thanks, Glen and Mae
Answer: Dear Glen and Mae: Well, there are three camping clubs within driving distance of my home and they are quite different in some ways and very similar in others. I will be using the terms clubs and parks synonymously from now on.
The club we belong to, (called Port Susan because it is near Port Susan Bay in Puget Sound), is on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The land is leased from the tribe and the memberships run for the life of that lease…with the possibility of renewal beyond that date. We are not particularly concerned about the lease structure because it goes beyond our life expectancy.
Port Susan Camping Club was created on over 700 acres of raw land by private investors. Each person who purchases a membership gets the use of a designated lot as part of the package. Prices vary based on the size and location of the lots. Park management was turned over to the members after the lots were all sold. The political structure is a board, a manager, an office staff and a maintenance crew.
Other clubs have been built on owned land and because lots are small, memberships are usually handled the same way with the use of a specific lot included, not a deed providing ownership of the land itself. In these clubs the owners retrain title.
In all parks, dues are collected and a budget adhered to. A maximum of six months use is allowed, by means of a Conditional Use Permit, although some parks allow two sites per family for full time residency. You have to move from one lot to the other, however, during the year. All parks have rules and regulations, of course.
The amenities vary from park to park. Ours are rustic but adequate. We have a senior center with an indoor pool and hot tub, a grocery store, restaurant, post office, chapel, Laundromat, fitness center, adult center with an outdoor pool and a family center with another outdoor pool. There’s also a small lake with boating and fishing. Many camping clubs don’t have that much to offer which is one reason why we picked Port Susan. The other is proximity. All are heavily wooded and on rolling land.
I will write more tomorrow about why people join camping clubs and the different ways that memberships can be used. Blessings, Luise