RVs make travelers feel right at home

My greatest purchase of all time was a 1972 Scotty Sportsman 16-foot travel trailer.

My cousin and I picked it up out of a farmer’s yard for $500. We were in college at the time, and this sweet piece of Americana became our hunting camp. We called her Delilah Jones.

I don’t remember life without a camper. In fact, a story my parents tell that I have no recollection of is how when I was just 3 years old, a neighbor kid and I hid in my parents’ small camper. While the adults frantically looked for us, we kept quiet, causing the sort of emotional stir I can now only imagine as a parent myself.

As long as I can remember, we were campers and we always had a recreational vehicle, increasing in size and comfort with time. The Indiana State Parks system was the extent of our travel. Potato Creek, Raccoon Lake, Tippecanoe, Pokagon, the Dunes and Turkey Run were our top choices. It was in these parks where my love for and dedication to wildlife and wild places was forged.

Having comfortable beds and a private toilet didn’t keep me from developing a desire to explore and seek solitude deep in wilderness areas. I have taken solo trips in the Rockies and spent many nights in tents far from civilization, but I still love camping in RVs in parks where others have gathered to celebrate being outdoors, even if they still have internet and satellite television.

People tell me regularly they wish they spent more time outside but don’t have the skills necessary to participate. To which I always reply, “You’re overthinking this.” You don’t have to be Daniel Boone to go to the woods. You can bring your food in a refrigerator. You just need an RV.

If you can hook a truck to a trailer and back the trailer into a spot, you can go camping with air conditioning.

When we would arrive at the parks, Dad would have to stop at the gatehouse to check in. That’s when my brother and I, and friends if they were with us, would drag our bikes out of the camper and take off. We’d wave bye to Mom and find the campsite later — sometimes, hours later.

It was an incredible sense of freedom for us boys to be off on what felt like a grand adventure, even if it was really a tightly controlled environment of less than a couple of thousand acres.

Thor Industries is the parent company of many leading RV brands, including Airstream, Dutchmen, Jayco, Keystone and Starcraft. They are a major player in the recreational vehicle market. The company recently released its 2020 North American RV Consumer Survey Report. It includes responses from owners of all types of RVs, as well as prospective owners, across Canada and the United States.

A couple of interesting takeaways from the report are that 94% of consumers surveyed still plan to vacation in 2020 and 50% of those with vacation plans indicate a vacation will occur in October. This potentially extends the traditional camping season.

“Our research supports that consumers understand that the RV lifestyle is a great way to social distance, create unforgettable family experiences and get away and recharge. We believe the best way to get outside for some enjoyment and adventure in a safe way is in an RV. The data shows that consumers agree,” Thor President and Chief and Executive Officer Bob Martin said.

Spending time outdoors doesn’t have to be a wilderness survival trip. You can take all the comforts of home with you in an RV. They range in size from small pop-ups that could be towed by a car to much larger with bedrooms and bathtubs. You can buy new or take advantage of a fairly robust used market. Even with the luxuries of an RV, you’re still exposed to nature.

See you down the trail …

Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for The Tribune. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.