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by Ron
  More on Membership Parks
As I wheeled our motorhome off of US 16 in South Dakota towards Hart Ranch, I had many questions in my mind. Is this Coast to Coast affiliated campground as good as they say it is? Would we be able to get in since we didn't have reservations? Would we be treated as second class campers because we weren't members? Would we get the run-a-round at the check in point? After a week in full hook-up at the fabulous Hart Ranch, my comments on membership campgrounds may be a bit bias, but I will share our limited experience this summer (three stays) at membership parks. At all three campgrounds we were treated cordially by friendly people and at none of the three did we have reservations. 

Our first stay was at Terra Starr Park in Checotah, Oklahoma, where we shortened a planned two day stay to one night. Since we had two grandsons with us we thought that they would enjoy the  very nice swimming pool and they did. Unfortunately several weeks of rain had turned a good portion of the campground into mud and that causes problems when camping with children. That evening there was another torrential downpour accompanied by tornado warnings and we decided to move the next day to a state park nearby that was on higher ground. 

After the state park visit we headed to Treasure Lake RV Resort in Branson, Missouri. About an hour out from the park, Barb used her trusty cell phone and inquired as to availability identifying us as Coast to Coast members. They said, "Come on in."  As we previously reported we had a wonderful five days at this beautifully well-maintained campground. They even arranged for some good discount tickets to the shows and they were within walking distance to downtown Branson. 

In ten years of being on the road, we have never been in a better campground than the Hart Ranch near Rapid City, South Dakota. We had heard from so many about this campground and they weren't exaggerating. Even the overflow area (we didn't use) is nice. Their staff is efficient and their systems for assigning spaces are fine tuned with a minimum of paper work. The sites are so level that you won't need jacks except to stabilize the RV. Every site is really a "big rig" site. Amenities and activities are comparable to a luxurious winter snow bird park. 

It was interesting to note that both Treasure Lake and Hart Ranch are member owned. It made us wonder why our former Coast to Coast park (Smoke Rise, Davison, MI) couldn't make it on annual dues that were much higher with a similar membership base. One difference is ownership pride and the resulting volunteers.  Another big difference is that there are no greedy owners siphoning off the dues with large salaries. 

We still feel the same about membership parks. They are an excellent camping tool if purchased wisely and used often.  Keep the original investment as low as you can and arrange to use the system enough to amortize off the annual dues based on average campground fees. 

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