RV Parks Invest Millions in Facility Upgrades
Convinced that their businesses are relatively recession proof, campgrounds are investing in capital improvement projects and, in some cases, expansions this year, according to park operators and industry officials.
From the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) comes a sampling of several parks across the U.S. that are making improvements this year:
- Buttonwood Campground in Mexico: This park, located in central Pennsylvania’s scenic Juniata River Valley, is investing in solar panels, which are being used to produce both hot water and electricity. “We think we can reduce our propane costs by 80% by using solar panels to heat hot water for the rest room sinks, showers and washers in our main bath house,” said park co-owner Dennis McFarland. The park has also installed an 18-kilowatt solar electric system, which will supply about 10 percent of its annual electricity needs. The system, installed by Greenspring Energy of Timonium, Md., includes 90 photovoltaic panels, which are 10 feet wide and 150 feet in length.
- Hershey Highmeadow Campground: This park, a division of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co., is adding two park model rental cabins to its campground to accommodate people who don’t have an RV. This means the park will now have five rental cabins.
- Kalyumet Camping & Cabins in Lucinda: This park is putting the finishing touches on a two-year, $500,000 improvement project that includes construction of an 18-hole miniature golf course with a waterfall, fountain pond, landscaping and unique hole designs. The park is also completing a family entertainment center, which is expected to open in June. The new complex will include an area with redemption games and prizes for children along with hand-dipped ice cream, a snack bar and facilities for hosting birthday parties. The facility is not only available to campers, but to the general public as well. The park is also completing installation of a Wi-Fi network.
- Little Mexico Campground in Winfield: This park’s improvements include upgrading 15 of its campsites to 50-amp electrical service. The park has also installed a new entrance for golf carts.
- Pennsylvania Dutch Campground in Shartlesville: This Appalachian Mountain campground has spent close to $750,000 in improvements and new amenities during the past 18 months. Improvements include upgrading electrical and sewer service throughout the campground, renovating the restrooms and showers, installing a new satellite restroom, remodeling and expanding the recreation hall and kitchen areas. New amenities include a custom-built 9-hole mini golf course and a 36-channel TV network, including a campground channel that lists general announcements, activities, and important messages involving camper birthdays, anniversaries and other camper requests.
- Western Village RV Park in Carlisle: This park recently upgraded 21 of its campsites to 30 amp electrical service. It is also planning to install cable TV service to some of its campsites before summer along with new playground equipment and shuffleboard courts. Last year, the park upgraded another 24 campsites to 50 amp electrical service and installed a salt water filtration swimming pool.
- Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Mill Run: This park, whose amenities include water slides, a miniature golf course, a mining sleuce and a paintball area, just added two, 250-foot-long snowless snow tubing tracks, said park manager Tracy Czambel.
When Jim and Pam Feldhouse bought Cedar Pond Campground in Milan seven years ago, they knew they had their work cut out for them.
“We purchased it in 2003 and at that time it was approximately 40 years old and very run down,” Pam Feldhouse said. “But every year since then we have upgraded a portion of the campground to modernize it and bring it into the 21st century.”
As a result of their efforts, all of the park’s RV sites now have 20-, 30- and 50-amp electrical power. “Although we are very small, we can accommodate a full range of campers, from the new large Class A rigs that require 50 amps all the way to families that want to get back to the basics with tent camping,” Feldhouse said.
The Feldhouses have also resurfaced the park’s roads and added a shower and dishwashing area to the bathroom near the tent section of the campground.
They’ve also added rental units. They started with one camper rental, then another. Then three years ago they bought two park model cabins with all the comforts of home, including a full-size stove, refrigerator, TV, electric fireplace and gas grill.
“We have had everybody from young families with babies and New Yorkers wanting to experience nature to fishermen and hunters in their quest for the big prize,” she said. “ATVers, boaters and whitewater rafters also frequent the campground.”
And last year, Feldhouse said, they added a pavilion for outdoor pancake breakfasts and potluck suppers. “We think of the campground as a work in progress,” Feldhouse said. “Luckily, we have made good progress in our efforts.”
Here’s a sampling of improvements underway at other privately owned and operated campgrounds in New Hampshire in preparation for the upcoming camping season:
- Chocorua Camping Village KOA in Chocorua: This park has made close to $85,000 worth of improvements during the past two years, including converting some of its waterfront sites to “supersites” with decks, patio furniture, gas grills and additional landscaping. The campground has also expanded its dog park; remodeled the showers in the main bathhouse; added a new log-sided cabin rental and planted new landscaping throughout the park. The campground has also purchased two acres of adjacent land for future expansion.
- Woodstock KOA in Woodstock: This park is expanding its main office and store and making its game room and laundry facility handicap accessible.
Here’s a sampling of several parks across Maryland that are making improvements this year:
- Castaways RV Resort and Campground in Berlin: This park has made about $75,000 worth of improvements this year, including retiling all of its bathhouses, adding a tiki bar/refreshment stand to its bayfront beach and adding new landscaping.
- Cherry Hill Park in College Park: This park is investing over $100,000 this year in solar panels and associated water heating equipment. “We are installing a solar water heating system in our conference center this year,” said park owner Mike Gurevich. “It involves 10 solar panels, four storage tanks and two high-efficiency backup heaters. It will heat our domestic hot water for the laundry, showers, and café as well as our hot water heating system in the winter. It will also heat the hot tub.” Gurevich concedes that the system, which just came online, hasn’t yet proven its worth. But he’s optimistic. “On sunny days,” he said, “the solar part of the system has heated up the four, 120-gallon storage tanks to over 150 degrees.” Gurevich is also installing another solar heating system for his park’s swimming pools, which will require another 20 solar panels to be placed on the roof of the park’s conference center.
- Hagerstown KOA in Williamsport: This park has added 50-amp electrical connections and sewer service to some of its pull through sites. The park also plans to add a “bark park” for its four-legged friends. Last year, the campground remodeled its restaurant into a '50s-style diner.
- Holiday Park Campground in Greensboro: This park has made electrical upgrades to one section of the campground and added new fencing. The park has also installed a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Campers may see a few new amenities and other improvements as they visit Iowa campgrounds this summer. Here’s a sampling of some of the improvements at Iowa campgrounds that will be in place in time for the summer camping season:
- Crossroads RV Park in Mt. Pleasant: Park operator Jeff Krug built this three-year-old park with green initiatives in mind, including compact fluorescent light bulbs, motion detector light switches and a tankless water heater. “We also don’t use any paper products in our bath and shower rooms,” Krug said. “Instead, it’s electric hand dryers.” He also installed geomat under the park’s gravel roadways. “This strengthens, firms and holds a solid sub-base so the rock will not be lost in the mud,” he said. This year, Krug plans to invest in separate bins so that his guests can sort their glass, plastic, and paper waste for recycling.
- On-Ur-Wa RV Park in Onawa: This park’s latest addition is a group meeting room, which is proving to be popular with rally groups, according to park owners Ken and Becky Tanner.
- Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park in Oxford: This park is making improvements to its swimming pool, deck area and shower house. Last year, the park installed a new metal roof on its 30 by 90-foot store and registration building.
- Spook Cave and Campground in McGregor: This park’s latest improvements include removing a mobile home and replacing it with two, fully-furnished Amish-built log cabins. The park also plans to build a 40-by-70-foot maintenance shed this year.