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Aug 17, 2010 3:46 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Waterfront camping a hit in Montauk

Aug 17, 2010 3:46 PM

MONTAUK—The Hamptons vacation: crashing blue waves, fine white sand and a house so close to both that you can’t possibly resist going to the beach.

Doug Trojanowski of East Hampton sat in a folding beach chair at Gin Beach on Thursday, enjoying his second day of just such a vacation.

“All you hear all night long is that,” he said, pointing to the waves that stroked the shore 20 feet in front of him. “Just waves hitting the beach. This is what you call waterfront property.”

But as locals tend to do, Mr. Trojanowski found a way to enjoy the same luxuries offered by his town for less. Forgoing a pricey beach condo and sidestepping month-long waiting lists for a hotel room, Mr. Trojanowski and his wife Eileen were beachside in a rented camper, stocked with all the amenities of home and for less than $200 a night.

“This is the most relaxing place on earth,” Ms. Trojanowski said. “It’s close enough to home and far enough away at the same time. There’s no pretension here.”

Laurie Criscione, of Shirley, who owns and operates Rent My Camper with her husband Joe, said they started the business in 2005, already veteran campers at that time, when a neighbor saw their camper parked in the driveway and said, “‘Hey, can I rent your camper?’” Ms. Criscione said.

The Trojanowskis learned about Rent My Camper from friends, whose son is a driver for the company, last year and tried it out. This year, they were back at the same spot, parked among a line of trailers that extends a mile down Gin Beach. It’s a friendly, fun-loving atmosphere, Ms. Trojanowski said, where people wander down the beach throughout the day and chat with “neighbors.” The rented campers come with a 3,000-watt generator and 60-gallon water tank, so the couple cooks, does dishes, showers and even watches TV—if there were satellite reception at Gin Beach—right at the site. The campers are even air-conditioned, so there’s some reprieve from the sun.

“We used to camp out of state,” Ms. Trojanowski said. “But this is better. There’s no reason to go anywhere else.”

Inside their camper, which could sleep as many as 10, there was a master bedroom with a queen-size bed, a bathroom, kitchen area with a refrigerator, dining table, couch and four bunk beds in the back room.

“They deliver the trailer, they set up everything,” Ms. Trojanowski said about Rent My Camper. “All you have to do is bring food. They have everything else you need.”

Laurie Caputo, whose son Brian drives for Rent My Camper, was camping at the site next door to the Trojanowskis. Ms. Caputo said she and her husband Gino were longtime campers, but as the needs of their family changed, so did their trailers.

“We started with a pop-up, then we got a tow behind, and now we have a fifth wheel,” she said, referring to a large trailer that is hitched to the bed of a pickup truck when transported. Now that her children are older, she said, their camper is better-suited for two-person vacations. There is a large master bedroom in the front, which opens up to a roomier living room than the Trojanowksis’ rental, with a four-chair dining table, love seat couch and two recliners. The Caputos also allow Rent My Camper to rent their camper when they aren’t using it.

Five years after starting the business, Mr. Criscione said they own 12 trailers that they send out every weekend in May and June, and just about every day of the summer for the rest of the season. They have so much interest they barely advertise, he said, other than on their website, www.rentmycamper.com.

“By the third week in June,” he said. “They never come back.”

The Crisciones have drivers who pick up and deliver the trailers from each location—they deliver to Gin Beach in Montauk and Shinnecock County Park in Southampton, as well as Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton and a range of other beaches and campgrounds as far west as Hauppauge—empty out the waste, clean and refuel the trailers and set them right back up for the next renter.

Ms. Criscione said there are a few other camper rental businesses in the area, but Rent My Camper is the only business that will take campers to the beach.

Ms. Trojanowski said she likes the simplicity of camping on the beach, and also the convenience of being near town. She said she and the Caputos cook meals together, mostly grilled food and salads in typical camping fashion, and they’ll go into Montauk each morning for breakfast at the Montauk Bake Shoppe.

“We swim, we sit around, we talk and catch up,” she said. “Good people and fun times together, this is what it’s all about.”

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Nice Idea. But it would be nice if Rent my camper did not keep all those campers on their residential property. Campers belong on a camp site not in your yard for everyone to have to look at. I praise you for your idea of Rent My Camper but your residence is an eye sore
By right1 (1), shirley on Aug 19, 10 10:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
Obviously you have never seen their WELL MAINTAINED FULLY WOODED property. They do not store campers there other than their private camper. I am a regular of the company and pass their house often. Their private camper can barely be seen from the road as they keep it in their backyard. I have been to their storage yard to view their campers and its not even in Shirley.
By horacehat (2), shirley on Sep 4, 10 11:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
Generator? TV? A/C? Fridge? Bathroom? That's not camping. That's a hotel on wheels.
And maybe also a private enterprise making money on public lands. Are the business owners paying concession fees to the park and beach operators, meaning the county and state?
By bailey (52), East Hampton on Aug 20, 10 11:26 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Aug 23, 10 9:36 AM
Gin Beach is a County Park. It's proper name is Theodore Roosevelt County Park. I think Rent my Camper is a great idea because it allows people who don't own or want to own a rv go and camp on the beach. The sites are there, so why not go and use them, and all the people who do own rv's can rent theirs when not in use. You need a generator, fridge, and bathroom to camp there. you are NOT allowed to camp in a tent, you must be self contained as there are no facilities to use.
By harborite (2), Sag Harbor on Aug 23, 10 9:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
is this beach on the ocean or bay side?
By CaptainSig (678), Dutch Harbor on Aug 25, 10 9:51 PM
Great Idea! I'd be interested to know if there is a monthly rate for a Montauk retailer who loves retreating after a hard day's night.
By montauknellie (27), Montauk on Sep 12, 10 9:12 AM