Why Are CAMC Sites Closed?

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CAMC Sites Closed

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This isn’t a situation I’ve ever needed to consider. I can’t remember that we’ve ever used the caravan in March, it’s a bit early in the season isn’t it?

Well yes, it is a bit early, but we needed to find a caravan site, somewhere near were we lived and as we’re a member of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, we decided to use their (or as it’s a club, I should say “our”) facilities. We’re members because in the main, we know what we’re getting, some argue they aren’t the cheapest, but they’re normally amongst the best. I say normally, because it isn’t always the case.

I’ve been guilty of club bashing, or club clubbing in the past and I think with good reason. I could write all day about eroding standards, but is it eroding standards or me just expecting too much? Or even that their booking system was unavailable for weeks due to inadequate IT infrastructure. In fact I kept my mouth shut, mostly, during this recent scandal, as, although I could have no doubt got some views on a vlog calling out the club, I didn’t. I want the CAMC to thrive, I use their sites and like most of them. However, I do think they need to be more accountable and more transparent.

Covid has hit a lot of businesses hard. However, the CAMC still charged us full membership whilst sites were closed, the CCC offered part refunds as we couldn’t use sites. Anyway I almost digressed, let’s get back on topic…

This brings me on to the main point of this article. Not being able to use sites. Now I never knew this, but a reasonable proportion of club sites are closed this time of year (early March). In fact a surprising amount of sites. Sure, you probably would’t expect sites to stay open when there isn’t the demand, but other businesses do, it’s all part of being in the leisure industry, isn’t it? Especially if you’re charging a membership. I’d imaging gyms stay open all year, even though certain times of the year they would be less used. I wouldn’t know about gyms you might be surprised to learn…

However, is their really a lack of demand this time of year, I’m not so sure…

We wanted to book a site for this coming weekend. Have a look at the image. The one that says “VIEW” is an affiliated site, but the others. Closed or full. My guess is the sites that are full, are full because the others are closed? So this image above is our “local” area, within an hour. I looked further a field and was, well, shocked…We deemed Hunstanton too far for a weekend.

So I expanded the search. Again the one’s that are not closed, or full are private affiliated sites. That’s quite damning, isn’t it? I’m a member of a club where I can’t book a pitch for the coming weekend. I do take onboard comments such as “You’ve left it late”, “You should have booked earlier”, but in all reasonableness, would YOU have expected everywhere to be full in early March? I understand summer, or Easter etc.

I guess as this weekend is Mother’s Day that could account for it, but why so many closed?

We really do need somewhere to stay this weekend. Out of interest, I looked further. Oh dear. Not that we’d go this far, but for the purposes of this moan, I mean article…

Now, I know a lot of sites open up in a couple of weeks. But here’s my point. I pay a membership to a club that sites are open maybe 6 months of the year. It’s not great for those of us that are all year around caravanners.

What about Private Sites?

There are some, mostly full. I tried to ring a few, no answer, I emailed, no reply. Hmm, not the best service.

Why Are Sites Closed?

I can only assume they are closed due to the price of electricity. I know from a recent vlog how much electricity you can use on a really cold day, I mean sub zero. I also know that sites are charged business rate for electric, which is more expensive. However, electricity use is a seasonal thing. I know I use more at home in the winter, ok, we understand that, so we pay an even amount each month, in the summer I use less, in the winter I use more, but the amount I pay is that same each month, it’s all about budgeting. But site prices are higher in the Summer, due to the rules of supply and demand, more want to go, so businesses can charge more.

We see this with air tickets. If you want to fly somewhere in the summer, especially school holidays, you pay more. A while back Ryanair were asked why they charge more for flights in the school holidays, and with more than a whiff of Tony Blair’s spin doctors, the answer was “so that we can keep fares cheaper in the low season”. Wow, I wasn’t expecting that answer 🙂

I know some sites do some maintenance over the winter period, but this should be a temporary closure rather than 6 months each year.

I have noticed Wyatts Covert in Buckinghamshire is open, and has space, it’s a metered site. I really have no problem with metered sites, if it means more sites can stay open all year around, but at least lower the pitch price, as it doesn’t now include electricity costs.

Conclusion

I know this won’t affect most people, most people are summer time caravanners. But we do pay membership 12 months a year. As you can see above, there are some sites open, but these sites are full, now they are full, because there is the demand. As the membership starts to learn more in favour of Motorhomers (by that I mean the number of Motorhomers out grows caravanners) sites need to be open for longer. Motorhomers are more likely to use sites all year around, even if it’s just for a weekend.

The weekend is where we find it harder to get a pitch, even this time of years. It’s like it was pre deposit days, where pitches get booked up for a Saturday and if you want to stay on a site Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, you can’t as on that one day the site is full.

Caravans or fully capable of being used all year around. I know the majority of people use their caravan for 2 weeks of the year in August, however, there are some that use all year and enjoy all seasons in their caravan – admittedly they are probably retired..

So, I can imagine what the CAMC would say if I asked them why they charge us a yearly membership, but sites are only open 6 months a year? “If we kept them open 12 months, we’d have to double the membership” or, if you asked Tony Blair’s spin doctors they’d say, “We keep the membership low, so that we can enable all walks of life to enjoy that great outdoors” hang on, isn’t that what the club said about “Experience Freedom”….

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4 responses to “Why Are CAMC Sites Closed?”

  1. Bob Reeve avatar
    Bob Reeve

    I suppose at the end of the day it’s what kind of site facilities you want. We use all our own facilities on board so don’t need toilet/shower blocks etc: so we go down the CL route which I believe is worth the membership fee. I think evenCL’s close in the winter but that’s probably down to demand or more likely because most are mainly fields they are difficult to get on or off during wet weather. But there are a lot of CL’s open because they have hard standing pitches so weather not a problem. We went to one at Market Harborough in October and November. Hard standing pitch with its own tap and waste water drain and metered electric. If you use all your onboard facilities and don’t need toilets etc: then this does give you a wider choice of site.

    1. CaravanVlogger avatar

      CL’s are fine, a bit hit and miss though in our experience. As we’re in the caravan for a while, we do occasionally facilities, esp washing machines. Think modern day traveller 🙂 Honestly, lord knows how these motorhomers cope with “van life” it’s less stressful owning a house and having a job 🙂 haha..

  2. Graham Trimmer avatar
    Graham Trimmer

    I agree Graham. The CAMC is no longer a ‘club’ , and as for prices…..
    However there are some great CLs , economically priced and with facilities acoording to your needs. The Search page on the Club web site is good, allowing you to look for what you need.
    These two are fairly close to you in N. Essex (?)

    Fairy’s Lodge Farm, Nr Huntingdon

    Slate Hall, Nr Haverhill

    Both offer hardstanding.

    1. CaravanVlogger avatar

      Thanks for the recommendations. Yes, that sort of area..

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