NCA Members Eye 2009 Camping Season
With the 2009 camping season right around the corner and the 45th annual Northeast Conference on Camping approaching, members of the Northeast Campground Association (NCA) offered their take on the campground industry in the recent edition of Northeast InSites.
The NCA will celebrate its 45th anniversary at the conference March 19-21 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel in Springfield, Mass.
Here are some thoughts and highlights from some of the 11 member states as the new season approaches:
Connecticut: Coupon book sales are up and were well received at the Hartford RV Show, reported Peter Brown, president of the Connecticut Campground Owners Association Inc. (CCOA). The association also was represented at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa in January and February shows in Springfield, Mass., and Providence, R.I. Brochures were distributed at all the shows. CCOA’s next membership meeting will be on March 21 during the NCA convention.
Maine: The Maine Campground Owners Association (MECOA) is partnering with the Maine Office of Tourism to display regional information at five of the 10 RV shows it attends. “The discussion around the table at our Maine Hospitality and Tourism Alliance meeting,” reported Rick Abare, MECOA executive director, “would say that our segment of the industry is best positioned in this tough economic time because we provide the most value for the vacationers’ budget.” Abare noted the passing of Maria L. Baptista, who with her late husband, Manny, were longtime owners of Acres of Wildlife Campground in Steep Falls, Maine.
Maryland: Deb Carter, executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC), delved into the history of camping for an inspirational pep talk. She noted that the word “campground” is an American term dating from 1795-1805 and didn’t exist in other languages. Organized camping has been going on in the U.S. since 1861, with the first YWCA camp in Philadelphia in 1874.
Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners (MACO) will conduct its annual meeting during the NCA conference and set up its game plan for the upcoming camping season, reported Paula and Jack Carroll, MACO executive directors. “We are cautiously optimistic and hope to work more closely with our state agencies to get more publicity for camping in Massachusetts,” they stated. “We encourage every campground owner or manager to attend the conference, especially during these uncertain times. Educating yourselves is the best investment you can make for your parks, and we know you will return to your parks with some great ideas and inspiration.”
New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa) will launch its new website, NHLOVESCAMPERS.com in March, reported Gregg Pitman, executive director. Act One Creative of Concord N.H., designed the new site. The association printed 210,000 copies of its NH LOVES CAMPERS Guide to camping in New Hampshire for 2009 distribution, matching 2008’s effort. Many campgrounds in the lower part of the state remain busy cleaning up from ice storms late in 2008 that felled numerous trees. Members also are rebuilding their electric service and repairing units damaged or destroyed by the storm.
New Jersey: The Mid-Atlantic Campground Conference conducted by associations in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware will be held March 2-3 in Dover, Del. This will be the 18th year the three associations have run a joint conference, reported Jay and Marji Otto, executive directors of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association (NJCOA). New Jersey membership stands at 104 entering 2009, an increase of two over last year. The association is attending five RV camping shows this season and distributing the 2009 edition of the Camping, Cabins and RVing New Jersey guide, as well as through several distribution services at dozens of additional shows. The 2009 guide was printed with the Maine, Massachusetts and New York guidebooks in a joint venture saving each state considerable amount of money, the Ottos noted. Other states will be invited to join the consortium. Legislation has been introduced to alleviate the regulations imposed by the state’s Department of Community Affairs on the state’s campgrounds that have recreational park trailers on site.
New York: “Many campground owners I have spoken to have reported that advance reservations are ahead of where they were in 2008 at this point,” reported Donald G. Bennett Jr., executive administrator of the Campground Owners of New York (CONY). CONY will be staffing show booths at 12 RV and camping shows this season. CONY will be conducting “zone” meetings for its members from March 31 to April 3.
Vermont: The Vermont Campground Association (VCA) is going to all six New England states this season with its new campground guide and brochures from the state parks and many member campgrounds, reported Peter Daniels, VCA executive director. VCA is working with the state’s department of forest parks and recreation to educate campers to leave their firewood at home when they go to camp in Vermont. A promotional video made with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce will debut this spring. VCA also is beefing up its guidebook and website. “We hope to have our e-guide more easily loaded and used with the opportunity for our members to each have a full page with text and pictures,” he stated. The Twin States Conference (for Vermont and New Hampshire campground owners) will be held this fall in central Vermont.