Last summer I wrote two posts about one of the biggest challenges I faced when getting on the road: making friends and finding a sense of community. Not just engaging in passing conversations with fellow campers about our RVs or the weather, but making real connections. I am one of those people who prefers deeper connections with a few close friends, instead of more superficial relationships with a lot of people.
The solution I came up with after realizing this about myself during my first season of Amazon was to work on starting relationships right after arriving at a new location to give the ones that could grow to that deeper level a chance to blossom. Which has worked alright for the past year or so, but it’s a lot more effort compared to finding people with similar interests when you’re living stationary.
The fact that I’m more introverted means that I only have so much energy to spend on interacting with new people, but I need to meet a lot of new people on a reoccurring basis every time I move to find those I have common interests with. Plus there is a time limit to finding these people before I move along and with my busy schedule it’s possible I’ve stayed in campgrounds with folks whom I’ve had a lot in common with but that I just never met by chance.
I had resigned myself to the fact that that was just one of the downsides to life on the road, when I received an invitation by Technomadia about a month ago to be a beta tester for a new project they were collaborating on, RVillage.
I’ve spent the past three weeks poking around on it in private, and there is no doubt in my mind, RVillage has the potential to be a revolutionary new community building tool for RVers that is unlike any forum, club, or Facebook group out there. It has a simple and easy to learn layout that anyone can learn to navigate, and is completely free. Last Wednesday the project entered open beta, so now I can share it with all of you.
The feature I find most promising is how easy it makes it to find other people who share similar interests to you. When you sign up, you fill out a profile that can be as brief or in-depth as you like and then sign in to the RV park you are currently staying at. The website uses the Allstays RV park directory, so most of them in the US are in there, and also many in Canada.
When you sign in to the campground, you get a list who else is signed in there, and you can view their profiles and see what you share in common and send a private message to them. It’s possible the RV park owners might also be on the site, giving you another line of communication if you’re have a question for them. Through that park’s public feed page you can create get togethers and ask questions of your neighbors, maybe you want to host a camp fire at your site starting at a certain time, are wondering if anyone has a ladder you can borrow for maintenance purposes, or are planning to go hiking at a nearby park and want to see if anyone else is interested in going with you. This is a great tool for introverts like me who like to get out and do things with people, but are too shy to ask near strangers in person if they’d like to come with.
And once you move on to the next campground, those friendships you’ve made aren’t forgotten. Besides being able to message them at any time, when you add a member as a friend, they get added to a map you can view that shows all of your friend’s locations, so no more near misses on the road. Anytime you notice a friend’s location is close by to yours, send them a line and arrange a meet up.
Besides being able to instantly learn about your neighbors in a campground you are staying at, you can also create and join interests groups that can have discussion forums. Have a love of knitting? Enjoy photography? Travel with pets? If there isn’t a group for it already, it only takes five minutes to start one. Interstellar Orchard has a community group on RVillage as of today, and it was the 359th group created in the five days since the site has gone live. Other membership perks include a listing of RV friendly businesses in the area you are staying.
It’s probably pretty obvious to see by now that I’m kind of in love with the idea of RVillage. I am not affiliated with the site in any way, I’m getting no commission for writing this. I’m writing it because I really think this project has the potential to change what it means to have a community on the road, but without people willing to give it a try it won’t get there. In five days, RVillage membership has grown to 2,300 people, and I invite all of you who have longed for an easier way to meet and make friends on the road to join up.
Please visit www.rvillage.com and view the little promotional video. If it sounds like a good fit for you, signing up is a quick and painless process. After that you can put as much or little time into filling out your rig info and profile as you like. It is still in beta and there are still bugs and features being worked on, but is improving every day. My user name is Becky Schade, please do add me as a friend and you can do a search under the Groups tab for Interstellar Orchard Community and join that. There isn’t a whole lot there at the moment, but for now at least it’ll give you an accurate location for where Cas is parked. Then you can look at other interest groups, see which other members are located in parks around you, and get started on making friends.
I hope that you might find this as helpful of a tool as I believe it will be for me. Have a good week everyone. Back to working on homework for the renaissance festival!