All of these items are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, 0 the worst. A rating of “NA” means the line item doesn’t apply, like in the case of a pool not being present, or WiFi not being present. (You’re probably asking “Why bother with computers and the internet!? This is camping!”. Hold on, I’ll get to that… see item #8.)
1) Overall Well-Keptness
What I mean by this is general overall cleanliness and organization. Are junky items left around? Are there mechanical items that are in disrepair, like doors, gates, electrical boxes, toilets, etc.? Is mowing and landscaping current, or are things overgrown and weedy?
2) Cleanliness of Bathrooms and Showers
This should be self explanatory. Are there dead bugs around, cobwebs, standing water around toilets or showers, or unpleasant odor? I also ask myself: “would I be willing to stand barefoot in the shower?”
3) Organization & Cleanliness of Main Camp Office & Store
Another self explanatory one.
4) Cleanliness and Maintenance of Pool
My number one question is “is it safe?”. Is there an adequate fence around it? Is there unrepaired cracking of the concrete? I did not bother to ask about the management of the chemistry in their pools. I general I wanted to not make it too obvious I was there on an “inspection”, just a casual camper thinking about camping there.
5) Safe & Updated Playground
Does the playground look rusty, if made of metal, or splintery, if made of wood? If there’s a sandbox are there weeds? If I were a kid would I want to play there? If you have kids you may end up actually playing there with them.
6) Clean and Updated Game Room
Are the games way outdated? Is it dirty, cob-webby, or musty? If there’s a pool table is it actually “playable” (is the felt smooth, etc.)?
7) “Spaciness” of Sites
Is there a comfortable distance between sites? Or is everybody packed like sardines? Is there some distance or greenery between sites for a little privacy? I realize this necessarily isn’t an issue if you have an RV or motorhome, as you can retreat to the sanctuary of your cozy camper if the neighbors are annoying. That’s probably why RV parks are more like parking lots.
8) Availability of WiFi
Ok, I realize this one really isn’t camping related. But for those of us who have an umbilicus to the internet, either for business reasons or by choice (vice?), not being able to get access to the internet on your laptop can be anxiety-producing. But, offering an internet connection is becoming more and more a necessity than a luxury for a lot of consumer-driven businesses. I only give a “10” if there’s a table and chairs outside the camp office to sit at after they close.
9) Congeniality and Helpfulness of Staff
Am I greeted with a least an effort of a smile? I’m not looking for bubbly, just the absense of prickliness or irritation. Am I bothering them by asking a few questions? Or is there even anybody at the office–or just a note and locked door?
10) Ease of Access to Amenities Away From Camp
How close is the campground to other attractions? Well, I guess that does depend on what kind of activities you’re looking for. Good restaurants, a water feature, fishing, shopping, golf, theatre? My question here is “do I feel isolated and a long distance from fun stuff to do?”. This might be more critical with kids, especially if there’s no pool. But, to a certain degree with camping you have to make your own fun–and everybody’s brand of “fun” is different.
11) Overall “Ambiance” of the Place
Do things just feel “right”? The overall atmosphere of the place, which encompasses all (or more) or the factors listed above, should say “glad to see you, thanks for coming, hope to see you again…”. But, there’s something else that’s a bit intangible here. If you’re long time campers, like we are, you’ll know what I mean by this. And if anybody else out there has a better way of articulating this just let me know :).