Big Crowd Attends Wisconsin Conference

April 1, 2008 by   - () Comments Off on Big Crowd Attends Wisconsin Conference

One of the largest state campground association meetings of the year attracted 627 people – 450 of them representing 127 campgrounds – to the 45th annual Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) Convention & Trade Show March 13-15 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis.
The conference featured an equally large vendor show displaying the products and services of 163 companies, according to Lori Severson, executive director. WACO also offered 30 seminars covering a broad area of campground subjects.
WACO President Scott Kollock told Woodall’s Campground Management that his members are optimistic about the 2008 camping season, which runs from around mid-April through October. He said he suspects campers will stay closer to home this season, which will benefit the state’s private campground industry. He also said WACO is working more closely with the state’s public campgrounds which “creates a positive environment all the way around.”
Lobbying Update
Lobbyist Kathy Kilgore gave a report on key legislative issues in 2007 and for the coming year. Among her comments were these:

  • Kilgore and Severson met with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff after it announced a proposal to allow the construction of “rustic cabins” and “indoor group camps” on state park system lands. The DNR decided not to include language allowing the construction of rustic cabins in the rule draft because they “just weren’t ready for that yet.” The DNR did rule that yurts may be installed at two parks. They would include a bunk bed and a table but would not be electrified or contain running water.
  • A legislative committee proposed a bill in 2007 to cap the number of campsites with electricity at any one state park to 50%. This cap was in response to testimony, which raised concerns about a few of the most popular state parks extending electricity to 100% of campsites. “I testified in support of the legislation, stating the private campgrounds needed this legislation to make sure the DNR stayed in its “niche” and did not seek to compete with private campgrounds (though we all know they already do!),” she stated.
  • A new law took effect in February for swimming pools and water attractions. The law states that an attendant must be on duty at a splash pad only when the facility is not restricted by an enclosure.
  • Assembly Bill 585 would eliminate the uniform school start date of Sept. 1 and allow school boards to determine the start date for their public school district. This bill, if passed, would gut the uniform start date that WACO and the entire tourism industry worked long and hard to pass, Kilgore stated. The existing law, which requires public schools to start after Sept. 1, has been in place for approximately five school years and few complaints have been heard, she said. The bill was to get a committee hearing early this year.
    Hall of Fame Inductees
    WACO inducted two campground into its Hall of Fame, bringing the number of inductees in the first two years to 10. The 2008 inductees are:

  • Frank and Alice Ward, owners of Holiday Shores Campground, Wisconsin Dells. They started the campground in 1975 with 41 acres and now have 157 acres. The Wards have 500 total sites with 350 seasonal sites and 113 overnight sites. Their sons, Frank Jr. and Jim, also are involved with the campground business.
  • Robert and Melanie Weiss, owners of the Wilderness Campgrounds, Montello, which has been in the family since 1969. They accepted the honor on behalf of Weiss’s mother, Bea, who passed away last year.
    WACO started the Hall of Fame last year and inducted eight founding members in its inaugural class.
    WACO welcomes Green Bay Packers past and present to its annual meeting and other association functions. This year, Gilbert Brown and Santana Dotson attended the conference.
    New Officers Elected
    New officers were elected for 2008 and they are: President Scott Kollock, Vista Royalle Campground, Bancroft; Vice President Bud Styler, Crystal Lake Campground, Lodi; Treasurer Mary Kay Hagen, Pride of America, Portage; Secretary Dawn Button, Evergreen Campsites, Wild Rose; and Past President Joyce Stenklyft, Tomah.
    Board members are: Mike Dricken, Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground, West Bend; Jim Kersten, Hidden Valley RV Resort, Milton; Mike Kubitz, Maple Heights Campground, Lakewood; Leland Nelson, Keyes Lake Campground, Florence; Dawn Rehwinkel, Merry Mac’s Campground, Merrimac; Wayne Schult, River Bay Camping Resort, Wisconsin Dells; Dave Schneider, Indian Trails Campground, Pardeeville; and Robert Weiss, Wilderness Campgrounds, Montello.

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