Officials at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have reversed a policy that required Wal-Mart and other retailers to be licensed as campgrounds if they allow RVers to park overnight.

“We will not require them to be licensed if they don’t charge a fee,” said Pat Metz, chief of the health agency’s general engineering section.

The policy change apparently came as the result of a threatened boycott of facilities affiliated with the Illinois Campground Association (ICA) by Escapees Inc., Livingston, Texas, a privately owned company that operates the Escapees RV Club.

“We find it unfortunate that the state backed off,” said Craig Weber, owner of Geneseo Campground, Geneseo, Ill., and the ICA’s immediate past president.

Weber’s campground was a specific target of the Escapees’ call for a boycott. The Geneseo Wal-Mart stopped allowing overnight parking after being told by IDPH that it needed a campground license.

David Gorin, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), said the threat of a boycott “absolutely” was the reason state health officials reversed themselves.

“They just got bombarded with complaints and they took the quick and easy way out,” Gorin said. “It’s not right, but it’s not within our power to change.”