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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Kevin and Luise & The Pewter Palace