Northeast Parks Turn Out at 47th NCA Event
Campgrounds making up the Northeast Campground Association (NCA) look forward to a busy season ahead, while each having different legislative issues on their respective radars.
Nearly 300 park owners from 10 New England states — Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland — gathered March 27-29 for NCA’s 47th Annual Conference on Camping and Trade Show at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center in Sturbridge, Mass.
According to Cyndy Zbierski, NCA’s executive assistant, each state has various legislative concerns on their plates. Among them:
- Length of stay in Connecticut.
- Definition of a campground in Maine.
- Realistic gallon measurement for Title V in Massachusetts.
- Human rights issues in Maryland.
- Presidential candidates visiting New Hampshire.
- Continuing firewood issues in New York.
- Attention to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues in Pennsylvania ( as well as all other states).
- A new governor helping to stimulate tourism in Rhode Island.
- Abandoned trailers and the problems they can cause in Vermont.
- The New Jersey Passport Program, a concerted effort to bring visitors to the state.
“The states in attendance are looking forward to a busy season ahead,” Zbierski noted. “Some mentioned they had not quite as many seasonal sites sold for 2011 due to ongoing unemployment. Those campgrounds that have been attending RV and camping shows in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Canada report that attendance is up at all shows and RVs – all sizes and types – are selling, making dealers and campground owners alike very optimistic.”
She said conversations on gas prices centered around campers continuing to camp while lessening the distance they travel to find a campground, making each state excited about marketing camping in their state as a great vacation option.
“State tourism budgets, always a concern as they decline, were discussed and all were reminded of the importance of working with their state representatives and tourism department leaders to ensure campgrounds are included in state tourism advertising messages,” she said.
Zbierski said from the beginning of the program on Sunday afternoon through the end of the Murder-Mystery Dinner on Tuesday evening the mood during the conference was positive, upbeat, and campground owners were looking forward to opening day as reservations were even or up compared to the past few seasons.
The trade show hosted 86 different companies filling 96 booths to promote their products and services to campground owners and operators.
“Vendors are also very optimistic this trade show season as NCA had 15 new VIP business members included in the show along with 14 other first-time exhibitors at the Northeast conference,” Zbierski said. “The diversity of the trade show floor was exciting to those campgrounds looking for something new and different for their guests.”
Trade show purchases were made for everything from new store products and replacement maintenance equipment to updated technology for the office or campers.
The conference program included 14 one-hour, CPO seminars and three state association meetings.
“This new format was well received by attendees as they were able to receive more information on a variety of important topics,” Zbierski said. “After being away from Sturbridge for five years, the attendees were very happy that NCA ‘Marched to Sturbridge to Reunite & Rejuvenate for 2011’ – a note hit perfectly as the Tantasqua High School Marching Band & Color Guard led everyone from the Awards Luncheon to the Trade Show in the Grand Opening event.”
Conference seminars included:
- “Cows with Names Give More Milk” (focusing on the importance of one of a campground’s most important assets – the staff), by Deb Carter of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort in Maryland.
- “Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Campers Eating Safe & Healthy in the Great Outdoors,” by Cindy Rice, certified ServSafe instructor.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration provided a speaker on “SBA Financing for Business” and the Kathy Gips, the director of training at the New England ADA Center shared “Best Practices in Accommodating ALL of Your Guests.”
- Other topics included pool maintenance, playground safety, “Pump or Not to Pump?,” managing aquatic plants, “What’s in Your Policy?,” social networking for businesses, landscaping, Halloween fun, electric code and electric cars and new marketing ideas.
Two cracker barrels were held in Sturbridge. One session was moderated by Suzanne Mark, of Mark of Excellence, and the other by David L. Berg, chairman of National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
“During both occasions campground owners and staff had the opportunity to share ideas, listen to other opinions and enjoy the chance to network with others in their own industry,” Zbierski said.
The NCA board held a meeting prior to the conference during which officers were elected. The 2011-2012 NCA officers are: president, Mike Irons of Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort in Thurmont, Md.; vice president, Roger Druck of Pine Cradle Lake Campground in Rome, Pa; second vice president, Judy LaPorta of Little Oaks Campground in S. Seaville, Cape May Court House, N.J.; treasurer, Michelle Ackerman of Sodom Mountain Campground in Southwick, Mass.; and past president, David L. Berg of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Representatives were also named for each of the remaining states: Peter Brown of Lone Oak Campsites in East Canaan, Conn.; Gregg Goldberg of Sandy Beach RV Resort in Contoocook, N.H.; Gregg Nicholls of Lake Bluff Campground in Wolcott, N.Y.; Mary Lunderville of Moose River Campground in St. Johnsbury, V.t; and John Tillinghast of Bowdish Lake Camping Area in Chepachet, R.I.
During the NCA awards luncheon several awards were given. All conference volunteers were given recognition for their service and three $500 scholarships were awarded from the Robert A. Hartford Memorial Scholarship Fund. The recipients were Shelby Bragdon, granddaughter of Fran Goodale, Mineral Springs Campground, Conn.; Joshua Gustine, grandson of Nelson Gustine, Nelson’s Family Campground, Conn., and Tyler Poirier, son of Paul and Korena Poirier, Tree Corners Family Campground, Vt.
A certificate of appreciation for his years of service to the NCA Board was also given to Mark Wright of Terrace Pines Campground, N.H.
Following these presentations Paul Bombei, newly appointed president and CEO of ARVC, outlined the goals of ARVC as they look to the future in promoting camping and outdoor hospitality working with their members every step of the way.
The luncheon ended with a keynote address by Lori Severson of Severson & Associates on “Owning Your Personal Motivation.”
“She made us think about what we haul around in our little red wagons as we look forward to making 2011 the best it can be,” Zbierski said.
In 2011 the NCA will continue to promote education and networking through partnerships with its affiliate state associations.
Next year’s Northeast Conference on Camping and Trade Show will be hosted by NCA at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center March 22-24.
NCA’s next event is the Great Escape hosted by Timber Creek RV Resort in Westerly, R.I., on Sept. 13-14.