Tuesday July 31, 2019
Utah natives Charlie and Heidi VanOtten and their two children Kaitlyn, 10 and Easton, 7 are the ultimate weekend warriors when it comes to camping. For the family, camping is a way to relax and maintain close bonds with family and friends. Charlie and Heidi first became interested in the camping lifestyle in 2005 after one of their family members brought home an RV. The couple had no kids at the time and weren't entirely sure they were all-in on buying their first RV... That is until they found themselves visiting a dealership suggested by their friend. At Motor Sportsland in Salt Lake City, UT the couple was introduced to the RV brand of their dreams. The salesperson took them through a Keystone Raptor and they were hooked.
Four Time Raptor Owners
After the purchase of their first Raptor the VanOttens took their camping game to the next level. They absolutely loved the dealership and the sales rep they purchased their first Raptor from, so of course they returned for an upgrade. This time they came home with a new Raptor with a bigger enclosed garage and a single-slide. Not long after, to accommodate their children and their new RZR side-by-side, the VanOttens returned to their favorite dealership and drove away with their third Raptor.
This February, the VanOttens purchased RV #4, a Raptor 415 with triple slides, two bathrooms and a multi-functional garage space.
The Camping Lifestyle in a Toy Hauler
Charlie and Heidi consider their family to be big time "glampers," they almost always camp in RV parks and avoid going off-the-grid unless they stop on their way to a destination. "The great thing about living where we do is that we don't have to travel very far for beautiful scenery. We do go on 'big' family adventures sometimes, but there are national parks and other great spots less than 100 miles away,” Charlie said. The VanOttens typically spend 25 to 35 nights a year camping with large groups of friends and family. On any camping trip, their Raptor is the spot to be. When the toys come out of their garage, the space transforms into the ultimate hangout; "Having young kids, the versatility of the garage space makes all the difference," Heidi said. "Truly that's the number one thing I love about our toy hauler. During the day while the adults are hanging out, the kids and their friends have their own space to hangout or use as a playroom." In the evenings or when the weather is less than ideal, the family sets up a picnic table in the back to eat and play games with their camping friends. "I also love waking up in the morning and having coffee on the porch outside. The garage and porch area are so multi-functional it works for so many things, like an entertainment area at night for adults or a built-in babysitter for our kids," Heidi explained. Some of Heidi's other favorite features of the 415 are found in the kitchen and master suite; "I love the open island kitchen and that the sink is not on the island cutting off countertop space. I feel like that concept is pretty rare in other fifth wheels,” she said. “Not to mention the king size bed is awesome, and our friends always talk about how they are jealous of our refrigerator." The VanOttens also enjoy the modernity of the decor featured in their Raptor—they hardly feel the need to make any changes except to add a personal effects like throw pillows or family photos.
Advice to New Campers
To Charlie and Hedi, camping comes naturally. Even though they were once "new" campers themselves, they have always been surrounded by friends and family familiar with the lifestyle. The one piece of advice the VanOttens offer to those looking to start camping, is to think about camping can benefit their family. Camping doesn't have to be for one type of family—"I feel there is a stigma about what camping is, and people are sometimes turned off by it. I've heard so many people say they are worried about being in the woods or being surrounded by bugs... But really it doesn’t have to be that way at all. There are so many different types of campgrounds with a variety of different environments, that there really is something for everyone" Charlie said.
Camping had provided the VanOtten family with unforgettable experiences and countless opportunities to bond; "Really it’s like towing along a small apartment. You have to think that you can basically go anywhere you want with the people that mean the most to you, and I wouldn't have it any other way," Heidi added.
Want to find your happy place? Chat with a Key Connect adviser to find your perfect RV match.