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by Ron
What a Mistake we Made

When I wheel our motorhome into Michigan this summer, we will have to by pass our home park that was affiliated with Coast to Coast. It�s a sad expensive story, but worth relating here so that our readers will know that there are unscrupulous and/or incompetent park owners out there. 

We have already confessed our original mistake in our book, Movin� On. We paid way too much for a membership campground, but that was before the secondary market for campground memberships became popular. Can you imagine that this conservative accountant agreed to pay $6,000 for a campground membership? At the time I was concerned about the fiscal integrity of a park and reasoned incorrectly that this large modern facility was financially sound. We were impressed with the large luxurious club house that had an indoor swimming pool, several lounges and a restaurant. The resort was complete with a private lake (free boat rental), tennis courts and lakeside rental cabins. There were also modern satellite facilities with laundries, showers and rest rooms. Several years ago the resort started developing condos on the north shore and that further convinced us that this would be part of a large resort development. 

Now for the shocker. Smoke Rise Resort in Davison, Michigan, advised us last January after we had paid our dues that they were going out of the Coast to Coast system. Just recently they have advised us that one of the owners has died and that the bank is about to foreclose on the facility. Their last letter says that members may have an opportunity to buy the park for three million dollars and that would take care of the obligations. We have since heard that they are delinquent in taxes for three years. It�s beyond our imagination how a park with 1,800 members paying a high annual dues of $329 a year can be in such trouble. Did the management siphon off money with high salaries? Did they use maintenance funds to finance the condo development? We won�t know because it�s a private corporation. All we know is that they have continued to receive fees and sell memberships knowing full well that their resort would fold. It�s people like this that give membership parks a bad name. It also makes this old accountant look bad. 

Membership campgrounds are a gamble and there is no way to check on their resources. The contracts are written so that the member has little or no protection and the books are closed. Our advice in Movin�On is still valid. Buy the very cheapest membership that you can (hopefully less than $300) and use the membership a lot. If they fold�you haven�t lost much. Learn from us. 

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