If you don’t already know, camply is an open-source Python project that I created a little while ago that helps people to find and snag last minute cancellations at campgrounds all around the USA.

I got the idea for camply when my partner and I took a road trip last summer. When we started planning campgrounds to stay at inside of National Parks during our trip, we quickly discovered that campsites at busy destinations like Yellowstone and Glacier are a hot commodity and totally booked out. After playing around in Chrome Developer tools on https://recreation.gov I realized that the APIs powering these websites can be used to proactively search for new availabilities to open up.

Basically, camply works like this:

  1. Install camply.
pip install camply
  1. You get the ID numbers of your favorite, popular campground / recreation area using https://recreation.gov (you can do this with the camply CLI too, try camply --help on your commandline).

  2. You use the camply CLI to search for a reservation to open up. This is pretty common on recreation.gov since their cancellation policy is generous and cheap. Check out the below command to search for campsites on weekends at Yosemite National Park (a rare find for certain coveted campgrounds).

camply campsites \
  --rec-area 2991 \
  --start-date 2022-06-01 \
  --end-date 2022-06-30 \
  --weekends \
  --continuous \
  --notifications pushover \
  1. camply runs a Python process that searches for new cancellations and sends you a push notification on your phone once something becomes available.

  2. You click the link on the notification and scramble to book the campsite before anybody else does.

Boom! You’ve just booked yourself a hard to find campsite. That’s basically it. camply supports different notifications through email, Telegram, Pushover, and more. It also works at campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park that don’t use recreation.gov.

camply been one of my favorite side projects to work on and the major part of that enjoyment is because people out there are actually using it to find spots (almost 200 Stargazers on GitHub as of writing this 😍). As camply has been getting more popular the feature requests have begun to come in. Where I don’t have time to work on those features, camply could use some architecture simplification to empower more open source contributors to develop them instead.

As these new projects start to pile up, I’m beginning to ask myself: “does camply need a large overhaul and refactor to best support this?” If so, what’s the best way to do that and what functionality is the most important? My end goal is a camply version 1.0.0 but for now I’m trying to understand what to prioritize and how to make camply the best possible Python application it can be (see below for Feature Ideas and Tech Debt).

If you have any feature suggestions, thoughts, architecture recommendations, or interest in contributing to camply please let me know. Getting to connect with open source contributors has been the best part of building this and has made me a better developer in the process (the camping has been great too 🏕).

– jf

P.S. If you’re interested in working on a spin-off of camply that finds and reserves last minute golfing tee times at golf courses around the world (including all the public Golf courses here in Denver, CO), let’s chat. I’ve got a Proof of Concept project that requires front end Python skills and I’m looking for partners to work with on it.

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Camply Feature Ideas and Tech Debt

  • Support multiple, simultaneous searches in the same process
    • #77 and #76
    • This idea has been brought up a couple times. My current solution is to use Docker Compose to run multiple camply docker containers in the background.
  • Search for campsites based on attributes
    • #63 and #75
    • This one is a no-brainer. People want to search for campsites that can fit their RV (or whatever equipment they might have). camply needs to be able to filter results based on a campsite’s attributes and allowed equipment.
  • Simplify adding new campsite providers
    • #67 and #40
    • There have been a couple of requests for adding new Campsite providers (outside of Recreation.gov and Yellowstone). There is currently is an established pattern, including AbstractBaseClasses, to implement a new Campsite Booking Provider - but it’s admittedly clunky and not super intuitive for new contributors.
  • Search for Wilderness Permits
    • #22
    • This would be a tough, yet powerful feature to implement - it uses completely different endpoints and logic from regular campgrounds
  • Search for specific campsites inside of campgrounds
    • #51 Done! This was a simple, but rewarding feature to implement. People can now search for their favorite campsites in their local campground
  • Persisted data stores (like a SQLite database) to store data between searches
    • Currently, each new camply search stores all of its data in-memory. Persisting data between searches could enable more powerful searching
  • Webserver UI
    • This might be fun to build if camply is to ever become useful to a non-technical audience. Being able to configure searches via a WebUI would be very useful
  • Managed Online Service for Hosted Searches
    • I’m not sure if this is feasible. I’m not interested in making money with camply, but I’m also not interested in losing money. Hosting people’s searches on a webiste would be great, but possibly costly and require more time involved than I have to provide.