MacDill uses texts to notify “FamCampers”

Robert and Verna Cuthrell, retirees currently residing in the family campgrounds at MacDill Air Force Base, pause for a photo at MacDill AFB, Florida, Jan. 24, 2018.

Robert and Verna Cuthrell, retirees currently residing in the family campground at MacDill Air Force Base, pause for a photo at MacDill AFB, Florida, Jan. 24, 2018. The Cuthrells have been visiting MacDill’s FamCamp for the past 20 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

The family campground, better known as “FamCamp”, is a community that allows people to temporarily reside within its campgrounds for six month intervals at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The family campground, better known as “FamCamp”, is a community that allows people to temporarily reside within its campgrounds for six month intervals at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. All members of MacDill are entitled to benefit from the texting notification service and to be enrolled in it for upcoming events, visitors can text “famcamp” to phone number 41411. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE Base, Fla. --

Remotely located near the beach and recreation center at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, lies the family campground, more commonly known as FamCamp, a popular visitation program that operates year-round allowing people to rent one of 366 full-service sites complete with electricity, water, waste disposal, cable TV and optional telephone service.

“FamCampers” commonly bring a recreational vehicle to live in at the site. The site consists mostly of retirees and a senior community, but also hosts a range of other guests like young couples waiting to move into base housing.

MacDill’s FamCamp allows guests to stay for up to six months and is a popular destination for winter vacations.

“Generally, the family campground has around 250 people in the summer and 800 people in the winter,” said William Vallee, the director of outdoor recreation assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron.

During the guests’ stay, there are multiple notification services they can enroll in to stay notified of upcoming MacDill events and emergency situations.

“We keep the campers posted about events happening around the campground through a variety of sources,” said Vallee. “We utilize Facebook, fliers, cork boards, text messages, and mass email messages.”

One of the newest additions, introduced last year, is the texting notification service.

“Our texting service has been extremely successful in helping us disseminate information to our campers,” said Vallee. “It’s the fastest way to get information out and we currently have 320 members in our texting program.”

Included in the texts and emails is information considered important for the guests staying at FamCamp.

“Most often, we use the texting service to keep the campers notified of special events on base, giveaways and any changes to our services or our activity schedule,” said Vallee. “We also use the service as a fast and efficient way to relay information during emergency situations like hurricanes and evacuations.” 

Vallee added that last year, the service proved incredibly invaluable during Hurricane Irma as it allowed the Outdoor Recreation team to quickly send out relevant storm information as it was happening.

Currently, their goal is to have 100% enrollment of the FamCampers in the texting service.

“I think the texting service is great and convenient,” said retired Master Chief Carl Barber, a 23 year veteran with the U.S. Navy. “Between that and emails, there always seems to be an event that catches me by surprise that I would like to go to.”

To enroll in the texting service, text “FamCamp” to the phone number 41411. To inquire about the free, offered services, call 813-828-6919 or 6920 or visit www.macdillfss.com/.