Category Archives: Military FAM Travel Camps

OHIO-Youngtown Air Reserve Base FAM Camp- Campground Review

View as you approach the base from RT 11

Campground Review:  We traveled to this FAM camp enroute to the annual Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, Indiana from our home state of NY in July 2022.  We had never been to the site before, reviews were full of pro’s and con’s but we had decided we wanted to experience as many FAM camps as possible on our travels.

Why FAM CAMPS? FAM camps provide added security (you must go through gate checks and have specific military clearances to get onto the bases), and they often have gas stations, commissaries and exchanges where groceries and other goods can be purchased easily and sometimes less expensively too. Cost wise, they are typically on par or a little less than area private campgrounds- but sadly they often offer far less amenities along with that lower price.

Access and the Area: We did have to venture slightly out of our normal interstate highway route to reach this campground. RT 11 was a beautifully maintained and constructed highway and a true pleasure to drive compared to I-90! As far as what is in the area…not much. We did do a day trip ride to the nearest Amish community of Mesopotamia which boasts a cute historic general store, vintage gas station still in operation, town green and huge handmade horse and buggy sculpture- but nothing else. That was about a 50 minute ride through farm country. We also went south through Youngstown to visit the Magic Tree Pub which was a great restaurant featuring an amazing on site baked huge pretzel and a variety of hearty dips. It was worth the trip!

The Base Itself:  The base itself is an Air Reserve Base, quite small and by far the smallest one we have seen.  There are NO services to speak of on base as one would expect.  No Commissary, No Exchange, NO onsite gas stations.  Just a very small quick mart of sorts that was even very limited compared to off base ones.  They did not even sell bagged ice.  There were no barber shops on base, we had to go to a local mall about 20 minutes away. 

Reservation Staff:  The gentleman running the FAM camp was certainly personable enough and did well with pre arrival communications, etc..  He was friendly and efficient. 

Base Gate:  Using main gate, there is a visitor check in building to the direct right.  Our recommendation is to pull forward into the right hand lane of the gate as if you were going through.  But stop! The visitor check in building has a very small parking lot and not good for RVs to turn around in to get back out to the gate entrance.   Our guard allowed us to park our rig there so we were not blocking the other entrance lane.  We walked through the fence gate to the right to the check in building to get our ID check and credentials printed.  Kevin’s is easy as he has his military credentials, I have to get special paper pass which must be on my person at all times and shown each time with his military pass if you come and go off the base.    All good and off we went to the campground itself AFTER checking in with the FAM Camp staff office. They will give you the base pass to be kept in your vehicle windshield as well.  Parking to get into the FAM camp office is BAD!  Thankfully we arrived when the parking lot opposite his office building was pretty empty and we were able to navigate around in it and park and get back out.  There is no shoulder to park on the road and no where by the FAM camp office building near the main gate to park either.  Read the instructions sent to you in an email about checking into the FAMcamp office.

The CAMPGROUND PRO’s: 

Rate: Our Stay was at a rate of $15 per night for FHU asphalt paved site, pull through. Super cheap for FHU.  All services worked fine, decent water pressure, no issues with power or sewer.

KIMG0158

Onsite Bath House:  at the end of the FAM camp as you approach the sites so not super close but easy quick walk.  Super clean, air conditioned, newer building for sure.  Showers were clean, private and well maintained. There is a small library shelf as you enter the building- what is there is what folks have left and it was very minimal.  There is a dumpster at the rear end of the campground near the metal storage building.

20220719_094016

20220718_175600

Quiet & Friendly:  with the exception of one plane leaving at about 8:30 AM our last morning we heard nothing from the base airplanes, etc.  As soon as we arrived we did have two different folks come up who where walking their dogs.  They were chatty and friendly and welcomed us.  Others waved from their rigs over the course of our stay.  This camp is used by DOD civilian contractors as well as military.  Some clearly are there for long stays, one camper had a cover on it.  

The CON’s:

The campsite area itself: 

No Useable Patio: The site itself where the RV is was paved but the “patio” is nothing more than chunked up road debris rubble full of asphalt chunks (sharp), gravel and sand.  It was horrible and even with our small patio rug down I could feel the chunks of asphalt through my sandals-even after I had (by hand) thrown a lot of the larger chunks to the side.  There were some areas of grass along the site but that was not the designated patio areas.

No picnic tables, no grills or fire pits (do not think the latter are allowed anyway)

Camp host??  It appeared the first pull through site MAY have been a camp host as evidenced by permanent looking structures, on ground large heavy blow up pool, a 28+ foot boat (covered up) on their pull through drive and lots of stuff all over the grassy area and asphalt pull through.  We did not see or was greeted by a host.  We did see one fellow on a golf cart drive around 1 time during our stay but he did not stop, wave or anything.  Interestingly the rules of the campground specifically call out NOTHING is to be placed on the grass at the campsites.  Ha ha.

Lack of Privacy:  The pull through sites are close together.  The back in sites have a little more room and grass around them.  There are no trees, no bushes, no landscaping.  You are essentially camping in an open parking lot.

KIMG0160

No base services/amenities:  As previously mentioned above, there are no other services on the base, no commissary, no exchange, no barber, no gas, not even bagged ice. No pool, movie theater, etc. like larger bases may have.

Would we stay again?  Quite frankly, no we would not unless there was some very compelling reason we had to be directly in this area.  There are way more FAM camps that offer more-even if you pay a higher premium to camp.

Happy travels!

Kevin and Luise & The Pewter Palace

669685c03348bed02d4d75a8c849c32b1f04c0c8b7d122f24e246d32bfa2af65.0

West Point NY- Military FAM camp Review: Round Pond Recreation Area

View from check in building to beach area across the pond.

We stayed two nights at this FAM camp on our way back from our month long trip on the Blue Ridge Pkwy and Skyline Drive.  It was in late June 2021 and we made last minute reservations enroute back to our NY home- not wanting our trip to come to an end we decided to explore this campground.  We chose it because of its proximity to the museum at the very famous West Point Military Academy (aprox 3 miles away) and only a short detour from our planned route home-and after staying here –that would be the ONLY reason we would say it was worth the visit. Please read on for the details of our visit…..

We were in Site 9. Basically a short gravel pull off spoke from a larger gravel open parking lot. It worked for us as we had a lot of laundry to do and proximity to Laundry building was about 100 steps-making it great to put laundry in and go back to RV rather than have to watch and wait. It was ALSO one of the ONLY sites that could handle the length of our trailer (32ft). We did disconnect and parked our truck broadside across our front. Site was W & E only.

This is an older campground and has seen better days as evidenced by the following some vintage log structures that in the hey dey must have been used for great gatherings, poorly maintained RV sites and roads. The check in building is modest with only basic snack foods available for sale. This is where they do the boat rentals, etc. By the signage inside the check in building it seems that the park is much more focused on being a day recreational area for those who live on the Army base. There are lots of rentals for grills, camping and sport equipment, fishing equipment, party equipment, etc.

It is a shame as an Army facility that maintenance is not better. West Point Academy is known for schooling outstanding engineers and this campground would be a great class project to have cadets put in some elbow grease!

What you DO get staying here is a “boom boom” to rattle your teeth when the nearby Army installation is testing their ordinates. Kevin, having served in the Army felt right at home! LOL

We paid $28 per night- way too much in our opinion for what condition and amenities the campground provides for a W & E site only. They do have a dump station, laundry facilities, playground and in season- boat rentals/fishing, etc.

You can see this is the condition of our Site #9. This area sites 9-13 are pretty much out in the open, some privacy at the rear when you back in.

There are some beautiful, vintage log constructed buildings around the campground but as far as we could see they have not been used for a long time and are locked up tight.  This is surely the case of the one at the beach. It is completely closed off and inaccessible. 

The beach was not well maintained at all– goose poop everywhere!  Lily pads and other water plants nearly clogged most of the swimming area-so you can feel them on your feet and body when trying to swim. Thank goodness we had our floats so was not too bad once we got out to the little deeper area.  Worse part is the beach is fenced and gated and the hours of use are very limited!  We were shoo’d out by a guard at 4 PM.  Hours for swimming I believe were 11 AM to 4 PM.  That is ridiculous since there is no lifeguard so why the restrictions?  Their website says they have guards during summer months. We suspect this early locking of the beach is only for the convenience of the staff.  It is not like there was evidence of any beach cleaning/sweeping or raking.  There was some litter/trash left on sand and again…more goose poop than we have ever seen anywhere- it was like dodging landmines trying to get from the gate into the water!

Beach front lodge is locked off, this is gravel access to our site. Lawn not mowed, picnic tables in fair condition.

We did not use the playground below but it seems that would be the best feature of this campground’s amenities.

Our trip to the West Point Military Academy Museum was a highlight for us. 

Museum is only 3 miles from campground. Free parking in front of building. Free entry-at least when we were there.

We had never been there before and as history buffs we were in awe of their collection of everything from Roman through modern military history.  Also included is a complete history of the Academy itself with interesting collection of evolution of the cadet uniforms, sports and rivalry with Navy, etc. This museum is definitely worth the visit!  They also have a nice gift shop full of Army and WP souvenirs, logo items , etc The museum is modern, well kept and very well done. Exhibits are well cataloged and include easy to follow descriptions. There is an elevator for ease of floors. See slideshow below…

Something VERY important to note!  The entrance to this campground is up (and down) a 24% grade narrow winding hilly access road to get up to the campground from the highway.  There is only this one road up and down. There are NO mirrors mounted on side of curves to help you see anything that may be coming around a bend.  Thank goodness we did not have to negotiate an oncoming vehicle much less a fifth wheel because we do not think the two will fit.  Again, this is a project that should be upgraded due to the size of most RVs these days.  If you have a big RV we are suggesting you pass by this campground.  The site we had was one of a handful that can handle anything over about 26 feet.  Many of the sites are on small winding roads, uneven and trees make negotiating into sites a challenge.

Sites 9-13 would be the only ones we would say could fit any modern 26foot or larger trailer or RV.  There was a 40′ Class A in site next to us. They are Water & Electric only sites- but dump station is right nearby (maybe too close in the dog days of summer-the smell might be bad if you are there on a Sunday when everyone is leaving and dumping!)

Would we stay there again, simple answer is no.  Sadly there are little to no other campgrounds (public or private run) in this immediate area to offer any other choices.

Fort Belvoir Military Travel (FAM) Camp Review:

Our RATING Scale:
1 being poor to 5 being Great!
We stayed at Fort Belvoir Travel Camp in May 2021 at SITE 39 with Potomac River view. We loved it and will plan to visit it again!

FORT BELVOIR ARMY BASE- TRAVEL CAMPAs I have mentioned previously, thanks to Kevin’s Army service and discharge classification (there are only specific ones allowed) we are able to use these FAM or Travel camps as they are called which are right on a military base (all branches of service) and in many cases RVers are granted use of the PX the Commissary and other on base services. These camps are NOT open to the general camping public.

The rates (we paid $47 p/night in May 2021) to stay are not necessarily cheaper than the rack rate at nearby private campgrounds, but the security is outstanding, you know you are only camped next to other military folks, and the use of the other base services like pool, hair salons, gyms, etc. granted at some bases is really nice. PLUS..in this case WE CAMPED RIGHT ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER AND A 1/2 HOUR FROM WASHINGTON DC! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE TRAVEL CAMP.

LOCATION, LOCATION,LOCATION! Easy access to I-95, Washington DC, Alexandria & Historic Frederickburg, VA and many historic sites including Mount Vernon.

Very secure gated entry to FAM camp, this is the rear gate- quicker to our site
Main gate entry to FAM camp. No longer staffed, Check in is at the nearby Recreation Building. Watch for signs, easy to miss.
Our Site 39 is 3rd on left.
Great site, would book again. Fishing pier with parking lot is below the slope behind our site.
View from fishing pier towards the Pewter Palace
Lots of osprey nest poles all around the base and riverfront
Super nice site, love the concrete and the picnic table is trex so no splinters!
This is the one bath house they have. Very modern, clean and certainly walkable if needed.
The bath house has exterior doors each lead to one of these complete bathrooms with private shower. Access from outside each end of the building. Very private, secure and spotless.
Kevin said this is what ALL service pedestals should be like. This camp is less than 10 yrs old and it is very well kept.

Our timing for over Memorial Day to be at Fort Belvoir was in hindsight not perfect. DC was a mob scene and most of the museums in DC that we had not already seen where still closed or on severe limited pre-reservation timed entry passes due to Covid-19 still. It was a bummer, but we did spend a great full day at nearby (about 35 min drive) in Fredericksburg, VA. This is a colonial town with tons of history, historic buildings, great restaurants and shopping. We enjoyed a great “German lunch” at Deutschland Downtown and had fun touring some of the historic buildings. Worth the day trip in our opinion.OH…and did I mention there is a huge IKEA store about 15 minutes from the campground. Yup…dropped some coinage there too another day! We also did a quick trip over the Mount Vernon just to visit their book store and gift shops as we have been there many times for our living history reenactments so no need to tour this visit.

Here we are just down the street from the Deutschland Downtown restaurant and going into the visitor center in Fredericksburg, VA