Attention on deck!! Military Campgrounds are a benefit that Active Duty Servicemembers, military retirees and some Veterans can enjoy. FamCamps are also available for use by Gold Star family members as well as some DOD employees.
FamCamps are military campgrounds located on military facilities all across the United States. However, you must meet certain criteria to be able to park your RV or camp at a military campground or FamCamp.
But, before you get all giddy thinking you’re a shoe-in, let’s talk about a few things. We’re going to set the record straight on who can stay at FamCamps and military campgrounds, how to find them, how to get on base with your RV and more!
So, let’s get on with our marching orders to see why FamCamps are one of the top rated choices for military family camping.
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Who Can Stay at Military Campgrounds and FamCamps
As military RVers, we learned about military campgrounds and FamCamps even before we put our RV in drive. After almost a decade of RVing, we want to share everything there is to know about FamCamps as well as who can stay at them and how to access military campgrounds?
What is a FamCamp?
FamCamp is short for family campground. Originally coined by the U.S. Air Force, most military RVers refer to all military campgrounds on any military base or post as a FamCamp.
FamCamps are operated and managed through Outdoor Recreation (Army and Air Force). And Military Campgrounds are operated and managed through the base Morale, Welfare and Recreation, also known as MWR (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard).
But, for intents and purposes, a FamCamp and military campground are essentially the same thing.
Military campgrounds and FamCamps are very popular due to their affordability and availability to military base facilities such as military medical treatment facilities, commissary and PX/BX, Class 6, movie theater, gym, etc.
But, they are also great ways to see parts of the country and visit family and friends who are serving without having to shuck out big bucks for places like those big luxury RV parks.
Who can stay at Military Campgrounds or FamCamps?
Let’s just set the record straight. Not just anyone can stay at a military campground or FamCamp.
To qualify to camp on military installations, you must be active duty military or a military retiree and their dependent spouse or minor children (based on DEERS enrollment).
National Guard, Reservists or 100% Disabled Veterans may rent a campsite at any military campground or FamCamp as well.
Adding in, surviving Gold Star Family Members who retain military benefits and privileges such as Tricare, commissary, etc. are welcome to use FamCamps and military campgrounds.
Veterans with a service-connected VA rating were recently added to the pool of qualified campground users.
And recent ruling has widened the criteria to include authorized family caregivers of eligible veterans enrolled in the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program.
However, the question that always surfaces is can ‘any’ U.S. military Veteran stay at military campgrounds? This is where it gets a little sticky.
Not all honorably discharged veterans are authorized to use FamCamps. They must meet the criteria above. (Please don’t shoot the messenger!)
As listed in the above checklist, Veterans must prove they have a service-connected disability by presenting their letter from the Veterans Administration showing their VA disability rating documentation. A VA Card will not suffice as any Veteran can obtain one through the VA regardless if they have a service connected disability or not.
Now, despite the qualifying criteria listed above, Active Duty always take precedence in obtaining an RV site at military campgrounds.
This is especially the case during their PCS (Permanent Change of Station), waiting for military housing or if there is a housing shortage on and/or off post.
After which, RV and campsites at military facilities are then based on certain precedences and space availability.
That said, qualification and occupancy regulations all come down to each individual Command authorization. One Base Commander can implement their own criteria versus another.
It’s best to call each particular military post Outdoor Recreation or base MWR office where the military campground or FamCamp is located for details and reservations.
How do you find Military campgrounds in the U.S.?
One of the best ways to find military campgrounds is word of mouth.
Ask fellow military RVers for recommendations. Not only will they tell you where they are and how to get there. Most FamCamp users will give you a decent perspective on what to expect at a particular military campground in question.
Another way to find military campgrounds is through MilitaryCampgrounds.US. You can search by location and sort your results by honing the options you may be looking for. It’s easy to find FamCamps using this method.
Also, our favorite campground review go-to is through RV Life’s Trip Wizard. In addition to their awesome RV trip planner, they also have a crowd-sourced online resource where you can read others’ reviews and info about various campgrounds; including military campgrounds or FamCamps.
And lastly, there’s a few online social media groups on Facebook that are strictly for military RVers. You can do a search to find them. Be aware, there may be a prerequisite to prove you’re qualified to be a member.
Do military campgrounds require reservations
There is no across-the-board reservation standard for all military campgrounds FamCamps. Some FamCamps require reservations while others may operate on a FCFS (first come first serve) basis.
Military campgrounds that do take reservations are also based on needs of the service first and foremost.
For example, Active Duty military will always be given priority and allowed to make reservations in advance before Veterans.
Most large military installations have an online reservation system while smaller bases may require you to call ahead for availability and to book your reservation.
It’s best to call the MWR or Outdoor Rec office of each military campground to see how to book a site.
How much does it cost to camp at a military campground or FamCamp?
There is also no across-the-board standard campsite fee rate at military campgrounds or FamCamps.
From our experience of staying at various campgrounds nationwide in the past 10 years, today’s military campground rates average about $30-35 per night. (2023)
That said, site fees may differ from one military base to another. They’re generally based on geographic location, economic region and amenities.
For example, FamCamps in California and Florida typically cost much more than those in Mississippi, North Dakota or Kentucky.
Realize military campgrounds located anywhere on the coast or near popular resort destinations be prepared to pay a little more for the advantage of enjoying the water.
But, to get down to brass tacks, military RV travelers and campers can stay at a military campground from $20 per night upwards to even $75 per night (or more!).
But the good thing is, military campgrounds do not charge federal, state, local or any hospitality taxes. FamCamps charge a simple flat fee.
What’s do military campgrounds include?
Military campground RV sites typically have full hookups with electric, water and sewer utilities.
Rarely do they have a so-called free WiFi and/or even cable television like civilian RV parks. So, FamCamp users need to provide their own connectivity and television entertainment.
On a good note, military campgrounds usually have a bathhouse with separate facilities for males and females.
And most provide a laundry room right in the campground to wash and dry clothes. So, no need to go looking for an off post public laundromat or compete with active duty living on post.
Military campgrounds will usually have a separate dump station either in the park itself or elsewhere on post.
Qualified military members may use the dump station to empty your gray and black tanks should you be passing through. Or, if you’re preparing your RV for storage or winterizing your camper, this is a good place to also dump your tanks.
Never assume you can dump your tanks without verifying with the FamCamp Camp Host, Outdoor Rec or MWR office. There may or may not be a dump fee or a fee to get water.
And of course, there’s always a trash dumpster close by.
Lastly, I’ve yet to find a military campground that has a propane fill station. So, you’ll have to find one off post.
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Can you dry camp at a military campground for free?
Not all military campgrounds have a dry camp section. That said, if they do, there still may be a small fee to boondock without being hooked up to the pedestal.
And something to keep in mind, some dry camping sites are also used for those waiting for a full hookup site.
So, before pulling your RV into a dry camping site or even a vacant site, you need to consult with Outdoor Rec, MWR or the Camp Host to ensure the site is not reserved.
Remember, some RVs may be vans or truck campers may have left for the day to go exploring for the day, fuel up, get groceries, etc. Their reserved site may appear vacant. However, they are coming back. So, never assume just because there’s an open site that it’s up for grabs.
Can you tent camp at a military campground?
Military campgrounds may or may not have tent camping sites; let alone in the same area as RV sites. They may be separate from the RV sites or on the outskirts.
Tent camping sites are generally much cheaper because they lack utilities except for water. However, there’s usually a small bathhouse within short walking distance of the tent camping area.
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How long can you stay at military campgrounds?
Qualified Military Servicemenbers and Veterans can stay anywhere from an overnight to several months at a military campground or FamCamp. However, that’s defined by each individual Command.
Long term campsite rentals are typically reserved for Active Duty families who may be PCS’ing, waiting for housing or if there’s a shortage of military housing or civilian rental properties.
That said, some larger military installation FamCamps may offer long-term campsites for Retirees and qualified Veterans.
However, do know military campgrounds that do offer long term camping usually have specified time limits though. They may range anywhere from 30 consecutive days upwards to 180 days or 6 months.
Some MWR and Outdoor Rec offices may require campers to vacate their site completely and leave the FamCamp for a specified amount of time (24 hours or one day) before returning or making another reservation.
They are not allowed to ‘leave their stuff’ or their campsite set up. It will have to be completely vacant for incoming RVers who have reservations or FCFS.
Do military campgrounds have the same rules as civilian campgrounds?
Yes, military campgrounds and FamCamps operate similarly with pretty much the same campground rules as National Parks, State Parks and privately-owned campgrounds.
But, there’s an expectation of maintaining a military standard of order and cleanliness. In other words, keep your campsite picked up and tidy.
But, the basic rules of camping apply. Being that FamCamp users have military experience, I don’t think I have to lay those rules all out.
And dare I laugh when people ask if there are quiet hours at FamCamps; especially when loud military jets are zooming or artillery shells going boom-boom all hours of the day and night
But, contrary to military operations, yes, there are quiet hours at FamCamps. Generally, they are 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Some FamCamps may have different quiet hours, so always check the campground rules.
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Customs and Courtesies at military campgrounds
Regardless if you’re active duty, Veteran, family member or guest, all military campground tenants are expected to follow military customs and courtesy.
Anytime our National Anthem or Taps is played over the base intercom, EVERYONE (including kids and guests) should stand at attention quietly and face the direction of the music until it’s over.
‘Covered’ Military and Veterans may render a hand salute. And civilians and family members should put their hand over their heart.
If you bring guests (and children) to camp with you, please instruct them the importance of doing so. It’s to recognize and remember the sacrifice of our Fallen Military who have given their lives so we can continue to enjoy ours.
It’s a privilege to stay at military campgrounds and FamCamps as well as be part of the military consortium.
Are military campgrounds safe?
Military FamCamps have some of the best security in the world because of their location right on the military base or post.
That said, there may be an occasional military campground that is located off base. Therefore, they may not have the same level of security measures that FamCamps located on base do. But, they are still under the same base security jurisdiction.
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Can I keep my firearms in my RV while camping at military campgrounds?
I’m not going to get into details regarding whether or not you can keep your firearms inside your RV on any military installation.
Base Commanders require personal firearms to be brought to the base armory for storage during your FamCamp stay.
If asked by base security, I strongly suggest to never lie about not having them onboard if you do in fact have them inside your RV, other vehicle or on your person.
Because if base security or military police conduct a search and find them after you tell them otherwise, you will be arrested and prosecuted for lying to a federal law enforcement officer as well as disobeying a Command’s standard orders.
This also applies to having firearms on your person or in your personal vehicle anytime you are on federal property.
In other words, DO NOT carry concealed or open carry even with proper permits on the premises of military campgrounds or anywhere on post.
Are there certain gates RVs must check in at?
Especially for big rig RVs, most military FamCamps will require you to check in at the commercial gate made for larger vehicles and trucks.
Regular gates may have a serpentine barrier system in place that makes it quite a challenge to navigate your motorhome with a toad or large fifth wheel or travel trailer set up through.
Smaller RVs like our little Winnebago View may be able to get through the security gate easily.
Some military installations are more strict with security than others. The gate security may have you to drive your RV through a large Xray facility at the gate.
Some base security teams may even want to step in to take a look-see while others may require a more intense search.
I highly recommend either calling the MWR or Outdoor Recreation office to find out which security gate you should bring your RV through.
But, anytime you enter a military base with your RV, have your current military ID out and ready. Be truthful in any questions the security gate guard may ask you.
Do military campgrounds have a Camp Host?
Yes, military campgrounds typically have a resident camp host to keep order and discipline within the campground. While they’re not a concierge, they may assist in any questions you may have about base amenities, off post restaurants, etc.
They may also be tasked with checking campers in, cleaning bathrooms and laundry as well as tidying up each site after a camper leaves. And of course, if there is a problem with another camper or one of your utilities, that’s what they’re for.
Are you cut out to be a camp host? Watch our video on lessons learned from our Camp Hosting experience and important tips!
Can a civilian friend or family member park their RV with you at a military campground?
Some military RVers caravan with their family or friends who camp in another RV.
So, the question of whether or not civilian friends or relatives can accompany them at a FamCamp is a touchy question within the military RV community.
Especially now, military campgrounds have become even more popular because of affordability and location coupled with the influx of RVers.
And, now that the government has widened the qualifying criteria to enjoy the military campgrounds benefit, it’s become difficult to score a campsite as it is.
Adding to the mix of allowing civilians makes it a bitter pill for currently-serving military and qualified Veterans who have dutifully earned the privilege and benefit.
But the truth of the matter is some (not all) military FamCamps may allow military patrons fitting the criteria sponsor a traveling friend (civilian).
However, this benefit is not military base-wide. It varies base to base. And what military bases that do allow sponsored guests may only allow it during certain times of the year. There may also be a limit in number of sponsored guests.
My opinion is if you’re traveling with a civilian friend, find a campground or RV park outside the gate for them or both of you. Please don’t take a site away from an active duty member or Veteran who has selflessly served their country or who may roll in late in day or without reservations.
One exception to that is immediate family members (parents and siblings) attending a military graduation or important event where the military member would sponsor them.
However, be aware that all sponsored guests are the responsibility of the military or Veteran sponsor. And, under no certain terms are they permitted to use other base facilities such as fuel stations, commissary, PX, gym, pool, etc.
Do military campgrounds ever close for the season?
Some military campgrounds may be seasonal which means they may not be open all year due to weather, climate or staffing.
Always check with the base MWR or post Outdoor Recreation Department website or call to verify the FamCamp is open.
Outdoor & Camping Equipment Rentals
Speaking of camping, did you know that military MWR and Outdoor Recreation programs offer outdoor equipment and even camper rentals?
Active Duty and qualified military Veterans can rent kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, cots, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, camp cookware and other camping equipment.
So, if you don’t have those, you surely can rent them for a small fee for however many days you need them.
But get this! Some military recreation facilities even rent out boats and campers, government-owned cabins and cottages too!
So, don’t think you have to go out and buy a ton of camping gear just to go camping for a weekend with your fellow airmen, battle buddies, shipmates or your family.
Wrapping up who can use military campgrounds and FamCamps?
Military campgrounds and FamCamps are a well-earned benefit for active military, military retirees, qualified Veterans, and others who meet the criteria.
They are a safe place to explore different regions, relax and enjoy military comraderie while camping amongst those who are currently serving or have served honorably.
Who can camp at military campgrounds?
Source: MilitaryBenefits.info (2023)
Top priority given to Active Duty. All other precedence and criteria may differ from Command to Command.
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