Across Florida and the Southwest, spring training for the major league baseball teams is well underway, drawing a significant number of RVers down to watch the big boys get ready for a new season.
But down in the deep south in the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama, it's not training time, is tournament time for the traveling teams of the little boys of summer.
In our case, it's our 11-year-old grandson, Jacob (hat's him pitching in the featured photo above), a proud member of Team Elite, a traveling ball team made up of mostly 11 year olds. And Jennifer and I aren't the only RVers here for the action. We spent the past weekend at an athletic complex in Marianna, FL that boasts not only seven pristine baseball fields but a well maintained, spacious RV park complete with hookups and a dump station.
Our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL took one of the 12 campsites for the weekend and we discovered a robust subculture of folks who have bought RVs just to follow their kids and grandkids around as they play baseball. The baseball games typically run all day Saturday and Sunday, with each team playing double headers each day.
The RVs make great places for the kids to rest between games and, at night, for families and kids to gather around a campfire, eat community meals and hang out together, On Saturday night at Marianna, a family in a Class A three spaces down put on a crawfish boil. On Sunday, when the kids weren't playing baseball, they all played soccer as parents and grandparents sat around on lawn chairs watching.
“We play travel ball pretty much every weekend throughout a three state area,” said Dan, a man in his early 40's who had a 2011 Monaco Class A motorhome. “We'll do this from now through late April or early May and then again in the fall. The motorhome makes it so convenient for us. Everything we need is with us and we're not cramped unto motel rooms.”
Next to us in an older Winnebago was a family from Destin, FL – Mom, Dad, 12 year old baseball son and a grandpa visiting from Wisconsin. Their golden retriever, Aggie, was Bo's new best friend and the two romped through the campground, off leash, Sunday until it was time for the afternoon's games to begin.
But because the campground had 20 and 50 amp electrical hookups. everyone could safely leave their pets back in the RVs with the air conditioners on.
“This campground is a really great feature for his athletic complex,” another player's mom told me. “We're from Tallahassee and we usually can find a state or county park nearby wherever it is we're playing. In some cases, the fields will let us say overnight in the parking lots. But we're definitely seeing more and more baseball families using RVs. It makes so much sense.”
We were the only Class B at the campground in Marianna. Several people commented how its smaller size but luxurious interior interested them, especially for back home and the demanding three times a week practice schedules. “I'd much rather chill out in something like yours than my minivan while waiting for practice to end,” noted one mom.
The Marianna complex charged $30 for the campsites. But for convenience and comfort, we felt it was money well spent.
Oh yeah… Jacob's team won the Silver Division. Not a bad start for the first weekend of the traveling tournament spring season.
Jennifer and I plan to take in more of his traveling games whenever we're in the region.
Looks like we found another great use for our motorhome.