Good 2011 Season Outlook at Wisconsin Convention
Camping reservations are coming in fast and furiously for the state of Wisconsin and the outlook for this season is optimistic, according to Lori Severson, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO).
Her comments came following WACO ’s 48th Annual Convention and Trade Show held March 17-20 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis. The event attracted 327 people and 193 vendor booths, an increase over last year’s event.
WACO has high expectations for this year’s camping season based on feedback at RV shows, Severson told Woodall’s Campground Management.
“We handed out more books at RV shows recently than ever before,” Severson said. “Talking with RV owners, sales are up so that is a really wonderful thing for our industry. And our campground owners have actually been taking reservations at RV shows, which says things are going really well.”
While many legislative issues face Wisconsin, zoning laws are what hurt campground owners the most, according to Severson.
“We want to make a difference legislatively and work on zoning laws that work with campground owners,” she said. “We are getting more involved in the legislative process. It is difficult for campgrounds to expand. In some ways we have a lot of campgrounds that are tapped out, all of their spaces are rented and they cannot accept any more reservations.”
WACO Sets Future Goals
With a busy season anticipated, goals for WACO include increasing membership and convention attendance. Another focus for WACO is consumer education.
“People are not being educated about what camping is today,” Severson explained. “It is amazing to me how many people think camping always means a tent.”
This year’s convention had a “Gimme S’More” theme and gave campground owners opportunities to earn CPO credit through a “Family Feud” format hosted by board member Adam Malsack and The Gilbert Brown Foundation. Participants learned what over 100 campers have to say about camping through survey information.
Malsack and the WACO board also sponsored a “Spin to Win,” which offered learning opportunities about membership benefits, advertising available, seminars offered at the convention, legal benefits, legislators, WACO programs, board members, mentor programs, scholarship opportunities and more.
Two campgrounds were inducted into WACO’s hall of fame – Maple View Campsites in Kewaunee, owned by Stan and Joyce LaCrosse, who were present o receive their honor, and Lake Chippewa Campground in Hayward, owned by Don and Judy Robinson.
Campground owners enjoyed a Murder Mystery night and a Casino night. There was even something for their children. Five years ago WACO started its innovative Kids Kamp and Teen Kamp to entertain and educate the kids of campground owners – all the while allowing more parents to attend the convention.
“In its first year there were 12 kids and this year there were 75,” Severson said.
WACO Board and Officer Election Results
WACO board members elected to their second three-year term: Bob Weiss, legislative committee, Wilderness Campgrounds, Montello; Dawn Rehwinkle, advertising committee, Merry Mac’s Campground, Merrimac; Mike Dricken, financial committee, Lake Lenwood Beach & Campground, West Bend.
Sponsors for the WACO convention were:
- $2,500 Presenting Sponsors: Bud Styer & Associates, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Harris Yahama Golf Cars, Rural Mutual Insurance Company, Royalle R.V., Severson & Associates/S & H Ad Specialties, The Big Event Company and Utility Supply Group.
- $1,000 “Gold” Sponsors” Evergreen USA, GuestReviews, Jamestown Advanced Products, Jim’s Golf Carts, Rainbow Midwest, Shades Under the Sun and Telemode Inc.
- $500 “Silver” sponsors: Stone Canyon Lodges & Park Models, Winona Radio.
- $200 “Bronze” sponsors: Charter Media, Dave Mosher & Associates, Holiday Wholesale, US Bank, Trailer Life, Warner Wexel – PM Supply andWisconsin Lake & Pond Resource;
- $200 Campground Owner sponsors: Duck Creek Campground, Evergreen Campsites, Hidden, Valley RV Resort, KOA Hixton/Alma Center and Stoney Creek RV Resort, Vista Royalle.
Special guests who appeared throughout the convention included: Paul Bambei, ARVC CEO; Rob Schutter, Leisure Systems COO; Gilbert Brown, The Gilbert Brown Foundation; William Henderson, 2011 Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Inductee; Santana Dotson, The Gilbert Brown Foundation; Bill Schroeder, The Gilbert Brown Foundation; Stephanie Klett, secretary Wisconsin Tourism; Keith Ripp, Wisconsin State Assembly representative; Jeff Sims, director of membership/public affairs ARVC; Bev Grubber, Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (COA); and Sarah Klavas, Department of Tourism.
Next year’s WACO conference is set for March 15-20.