RV parks and resorts often compete with one another on price, location and the quality of their amenities and service. But Florilow Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Fla., sets itself apart using another criteria: it’s one of the nation’s only 55-and-over parks for single RVers. And it’s the only park of its kind where single RVers can purchase ownership rights to their campsites, according to Park Manager Kathryn Lane.
“The park was originally started by five women from Vermont who were either single or widowed. They started it as a park for singles,” Lane explained.
But even though the park has been in existence for nearly 30 years, it hasn’t had any trouble maintaining its focus on single RVers, nor has it encountered much in the way of competition. In fact, the only other park in the country that caters to single RVers over 55 is the campground at Loners on Wheels headquarters in Deming, N.M., Lane said, although the Deming park does not offer ownership rights.
What both parks do have in common, however, is a customer base comprised largely of members of Loners on Wheels or the LOWs, the national RV club that regularly organizes RV trips and other activities specifically for single RVers.
Sixty-nine-year-old Tom Johnson said Florilow is appealing to 55-and-older RVers who want an active social life with other single RVers without feeling any pressure to start a relationship with anyone.
“It’s a very comfortable place to camp,” said Johnson, an Indiana resident who spends his winters at Florilow. “People don’t go there to find a mate or someone to couple up with.”
Lane said the park is successful in part because it doesn’t make any effort to encourage its singles to pair up or form relationships.
“They are fiercely independent,” Lane said of her campers.
Many of the single women at Florilow are well-educated professionals who aren’t looking to marry someone for financial security.
“The majority of the people in here are widows or widowers,” Lane said. “They had a good, full life with the spouse they had and they don’t want to replace them.”
But that doesn’t mean single RVers want to spend their remaining years alone, either. Many crave interaction with other single RVers.
Seventy-year-old Trena Manville of Tampa remembers what it was like after her husband passed away in 1991.
“The reality is when you lose your spouse, you lose your social life,” she said.
But Manville built a new social life by meeting other RVers after joining the LOWs in 2001. She purchased ownership rights at Florilow two years ago. She agreed Florilow is appealing to 55-and-older RVers who want an active social life.
Florilow has an activities director during the winter season and there are numerous dinners, day trips and other activities scheduled throughout the season. Residents also schedule their own activities and publicize them on the park’s bulletin board.
“We do a lot of biking, kayaking, game playing and volunteer activities,” Manville said, adding several park residents have also volunteered with Wreaths Across America, the group that places wreaths on the graves of veteran’s cemeteries to honor their service and to call attention to the sacrifices they have made for the country.
Other Florilow shareholders volunteer with Hope Ministries, which provides food and clothing to the homeless and others who need help in their lives.
“We have people who go down there every week,” said Lane, who also volunteers with the local humane society.
But while Florilow encourages people to enjoy a wide range of activities for single RVers, it also provides a safety net for its residents. For example, if someone doesn’t show up for an activity, people will go to check on them to make sure they’re OK.
“Everybody looks out for everyone else,” said Eileen Ricker, a 64-year-old who lives at Florilow year round.
Ricker got a taste of Florilow’s internal safety net when she broke a bone in her foot last year. She was repeatedly visited by other park residents who asked if they could help her with groceries, laundry or other errands.
Ricker likes the park so much she encouraged her divorced mother and father to move there. And while they live in separate RVs at opposite ends of the park, Ricker likes being able to check up on them, while giving them the independence they both desire.
“I’ve talked to them about assisted living and whatever might come next, but [the conversation] always comes back to, ‘I want to stay here as long as I can.’”
Florilow has 145 sites, 100 of which are designated for shareholders or leaseholders, while the remaining 45 are set aside for transient RVers. The park includes all types of RVs, including motor-homes, travel trailers, park models and some mobile homes. Sites are available on an overnight basis, for lease and for purchase. But while the park’s bylaws make it clear that the park is intended for singles only, if you happen to fall in love and marry another RVer while staying at Florilow, it won’t necessarily lead to your eviction.
“We have never kicked anyone out [for getting married],” Lane said.
Florilow Oaks RV Park