Wisconsin Couple Updates Campground
Bob Paral, co-owner of Apple Creek Campground in De Pere, Wis., has been in the camping industry for 50 years and has watched it expand, especially as Baby Boomers retire young with money to spend, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
“They demand the services, they demand the upgrade, and they want nice things. They want a nice park with electricity and the amenities,” he said.
Sue Paral, his wife, has also seen a change in how the campground is viewed. “We’re becoming more of an alternative to a (motel),” she said.
Bob and Sue have owned Apple Creek Campground since 1989, but leased it out for the past 10 years. “Bob got bored of retirement, so we’re back in the business,” Sue said.
After a “very intensive” two months of work last fall and a month this spring, the Parals have opened up their campground again for this year’s season, according to Bob.
“I could see what needed to be done and what hadn’t been taken care of in the past years,” he said. “Then (we) just went and did it.”
They added a new laundry, new playground equipment, a cow wagon ride and a convenience store, as well as renovating the pool, fishing pond and recreation hall, complete with a 61-inch plasma television.
They also landscaped the property, including leveling off the gravel pads for the 140 camping sites.
Also new this year is a children’s activities coordinator, who puts on programs such as Saturday night movies.
“Our response to the changes has been absolutely amazing,” Bob said, citing the hundreds of compliments he has received from people who have told him they “have enjoyed the change and how clean the campground is, and how well they like it.”
The Parals have also individualized their property with a yurt that sleeps a family of five. The circular structure is 16 feet in diameter, with vinyl-impregnated fabric wrapped around lattice walls. The Parals constructed theirs from a kit.
While campers have to bring their own bedding and camping gear, electricity and water are provided, as well as a cooking grill outside, which Bob guarantees will make an “absolutely delicious” steak.
“It’s different,” Sue said. “We’ve had all good comments on it.”
This year was an experiment to see how the yurt would be received. “We hope to have another one next year,” she said.
In keeping with the spirit of change, the Parals will extend this year’s season to accommodate football. Although water at individual campsites will be shut off on Oct. 15, water in the main buildings and electricity throughout the camp will remain on.
“Green Bay and the Fox Valley are becoming a destination,” Bob said. “There’s a lot to do around Green Bay and the Fox Cities.”
Many of the campers, however, come from right down the road. “I think one of the surprising things was the amount of campers that just come within 20 miles,” Sue said.
“With the gas prices, you don’t have to drive far.”