I finally got a chance to look over that article in the Woodall's Campground Management
publication ("The Voice of the North American Campground Business"
). It took up the entire front page and about half of page five, so I'll just try to hit the high points. It was an interview between Escapees CEO, Cathie Carr, and the senior editor of WCM, Jeff Crider.
Although the headline characterized it as a "Wal-Mart Debate", the Escapees were actually trying to establish negotiations with campground owners associations such as the ARVC. In addition to Wal-Mart, the debate also encompassed several other retailers and businesses that allow overnight parking.
The essence of the proposed negotiations was a "three-way compromise":
1. RV clubs must do their part to educate their members (about ettiquette).
2. RVers must not abuse the hospitality that's offered.
3. The campground owners have to agree to back off pursuing legislation and stricter ordinances that force people into campgrounds regardless of their needs.
The article included the Escapees "Good Neighbor Policy", which was "supported by several other RV consumer organizations, including the Family Motor Coach Association and "Airstream's Wally Byam Caravan Club"
). It is, in part, as follows:
1. Stay one night only
2. Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
3. Obey posted regulations.
4. No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills.
5. No hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces, including asphalt.
6. Leave the area cleaner than you found it.
7. Purchase goods from the retailer.
8. Be safe...
As stated in this Code of Conduct, the Escapees are advocating that RVers "only spend one night and one night only" at businesses that allow it, regardless of whether their policy allows more. She specifically implied that, if this compromise was agreed upon, and a member insisted they would violate this policy, she would refund their dues and advise them to take the Escapees decal off their rig.
In the preface to the interview, WCM also mentioned successful boycotts of certain locations (Illinois, for one) that tried to enact health codes to prevent Wal-Mart and other retailers from providing overnight parking to RVers. The effort failed partially due to pressure from the Escapee membership, and the fact that the state health officials couldn't find any documented evidence of any past health violations caused by RVers. Also noted during the interview was another failed movement in Nevada to prohibit overnight parking anywhere in the state, except in a campground. Carr clearly indicated the Escapees would rather not use that strategy, but would much prefer to reach a middle ground.
To me, it was a fairly objective and interesting read regarding the motives of the various groups. I have no interest in using a retail establishment as a campground, but I do find it unreasonable to be forced to pay full fees for amenities that I would never use at a campground, when all I need is a few hours of rest while in transit. I've never spent a night at a Wal-Mart, but I did catch a few hours of sleep at a Cracker Barrel (after having dinner).
I believe the compromise approach to be a reasonable one.