Ron: It’s 95% truck campers. There are only about three regulars that have motor homes.
TCM: It sounds like you all are over weight with heavy truck campers on single rear wheel trucks.
Ron: You’ve got to think of it this way – most people live five to twenty-five miles off the island. Their truck camper isn’t going to see 55 mph all weekend. The road to Assateague is only 45 mph. If I went the speed limit from my house my truck camper wouldn’t see 50 mph. I will guarantee that 50% of the truck campers at Assateague never come off the truck. Mine doesn’t except when the truck needs maintenance.
TCM: Tell us about your truck and camper.
Ron: My truck is a 2004 Ford F350 Crew Cab Lariat. It’s a V10 gas – that thing’s a horse! My truck camper is a 2005 Lance 881. We have a deck on the back and cooler racks on the front.
TCM: Why did you choose the Lance 881?
Ron: I wanted the biggest camper that I could get on a short-bed truck. The Lance has met my expectations and then some. Having a full-wall slide is just amazing.
TCM: Tell us about the AMSA.
Ron: AMSA stands for Assateague Mobile Sports-fisherman Association. Our web site is www.keepersofthebeach.com. We have an open line of communication with the National Park Service on the rules and issues that effect us. If the Park Service thought about shutting us down or changing their prices we have the numbers to say that’s not fair. But we haven’t had any problems with the Park Service.
TCM: Why would the National Park Service want to shut you down?
Ron: They’re concerned about the nesting habits of animals on Assateague. The birds that were endangered are now off the endangered species list and making a comeback – with our support. And they shut down certain parts of the island for nesting pairs. For us it’s all about beach preservation for recreation. One of the other beach associations has the slogan, “Preserve Don’t Prohibit”. I joined AMSA because I wanted to make sure my son has somewhere to go when he’s my age.
TCM: What was the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on Assateague Island?
Ron: Catching my first Red Drum. We had three lines go down at one time. Cotton Collins and Frank Aello were there – all Lance owners and Outdoor Express customers. Cotton and Frank took off to catch the fish we started with. I came back running and my wife had a poll bent in two. We were fighting fish for 45 minutes of pure hectic.
TCM: Assateague Island sounds amazing. But I bet there are some drawbacks.
Ron: The bad part of Assateague Island can be the heat and the bugs. There’s also no electric or water. You take on what you take on and you take off what you take off. When it really gets dog hot we’ll go to a campground.
TCM: Before we end our interview, please tell us how you got into truck camping.
Ron: I was an avid golfer going two to three times a week. Then I found out that my wife was pregnant. I decided it wasn’t fair to spend five hours on a golf course when she’s home with a baby. That’s when I got into truck camping. My boy, Jarett, was on that beach maybe eight weeks after he was born. He grew up walking in the sand. This year I gave him the option of going to the beach or campgrounds. He wants more campgrounds because they have playgrounds. So I think we’ll be going to more campgrounds this year.