Two Vancouver-based campers have introduced Campnab, an app that monitors campgrounds for cancellations and then notifies users of availabilities via text message.

Online campsite booking systems are problematic. Savvy campers reserve spots many months in advance. This leaves others unable to find a campsite, spoiling their summer plans. Eric Shelkie (Campnab’s creator) experienced this frustration first-hand. He had recently bought a campervan but found himself unable to book a campsite.

Shelkie’s ah-ha moment came while watching his wife repeatedly hit the refresh button on a campground booking website. He explains, “It took a while, but, a spot did open up. I started to wonder how often this happened.” Shelkie then programmed an application to automatically watch for new vacancies. Soon, he found himself bombarded by more openings than he could use. So, he asked friend, and designer, Eric Karjaluotowhether they should “make it pretty” and open it up to the public.

Within days, they made Campnab (https://www.campnab.com) available to B.C. residents. Shortly thereafter they did the same for campers in Ontario. “What we found was eye-opening. In those 2 provinces, up to 4,000 new campsites opened up, every day. I suspect most don’t realize how many cancellations there are, so, they give up on looking—and those spots potentially go unused.”

Through the app, campers note when, where, and how long they want to camp. They also provide their mobile phone number and select a payment option. Campnab then continually scans that park for cancellations. If a suitable spot comes available, the app sends a notification via text message. From there, it’s up to the camper to book his/her spot.

Campers access the service in two ways. Infrequent campers can use the pay-per-use option. This costs $10 – $20 to track a single location, date, and duration. Regular campers may opt for memberships ($5 – $15/month), which allow them to monitor more campgrounds, at a lower price.

Although Campnab is still in its infancy, users are enthusiastic about the service. Campnab member Christine Muzsik remarks, “I love Campnab! I’m booked up for most of the weekends in July and August—half of which I found through Campnab.”

Besides BC and Ontario parks, Campnab now scans parks in Washington StateCalifornia, and Oregon. It also scans Canadian National Parks, and many parks and recreation sites across the United States.