Tar Heel State Faces Two Rival Trade Groups
Campground owners and operators in North Carolina now have another state association vying for their attention.
The North Carolina Camping & RV Association (NCCRVA) was formed this spring by Charlene Barbour, former executive director of the Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CARVC).
CARVC ended its relationship with Barbour and her Garner, N.C.-based Management Concepts on April 30.
CARVC President Dana Gabriel told Woodall’s Campground Management that as of the first of August, she was not aware of any CARVC members who had “jumped ship” and joined NCCRVA.
“We want to take the high ground on this. But there is nothing of value there,” she said of joining the new association. “I don’t view them as a threat. It is nothing but a reflex action of the CARVC board finding a new management company.”
Barbour, who did not return repeated calls from WCM for comment for this story, had been on probation with CARVC since February, Gabriel noted. “This had been brewing for a long, long time,” she said.
Since the fallout, CARVC has hired Queen Communications of Columbia S.C., to manage its business affairs.
Owner Garry Queen told WCM, “I don’t know what all happened. There was some animosity. I don’t know what started it. I just know we’re picking up the pieces and we’re moving forward. We have a good game plan out there.”
Gabriel said CARVC is very pleased with Queen’s professionalism and looks forward to growing under his guidance.
Formed in 1989, Queen Communications manages 10 state, regional and national associations. Queen said CARVC’s 104 members constitute just 20% of the privately owned campgrounds in the Carolinas. He aims to improve on that market penetration.
“It’s just reaching out to the campgrounds and making them aware of what’s available through membership in CARVC,” he said. “They can actually make money by joining through the national association (ARVC).”
Conversely, NCCRVA makes it clear on its website that affiliation with ARVC is not part of its business plan. “Membership in NCCRVA does NOT require membership in any national organization and no membership in any national organization is included in NCCRVA membership,” NCCRVA states on its website. “NCCRVA is a stand-alone association that specifically supports camping and RVing in North Carolina. Join us as we reclaim the camping and RV industry in NC! NCCRVA’s mission is to bring together all those in NC that support Camping and RVing – parks, suppliers and consumers alike.”
Annual dues range from $100 for parks up to 50 sites/units in size to $1,100 for “mega parks” with 501-plus units/sites.
NCCRVA promises access to insurance providers that specialize in the camping and RV industry, an annual directory with a distribution of over 30,000, a website and online directory (beginning in the fall) with a “Talk to the Experts” forum, a quarterly newsletter, an annual meeting beginning in 2012 and support and promotion of all parks.
Barbour gained prominence nationwide some time ago during her tenure as president of CAMP (Campground Association of Management Professionals).
Meanwhile, the dispute with Barbour has been “a nightmare,” according to one longtime CARVC member who has witnessed first hand the breakup. There is “bad blood” between the two groups, says an outsider who has witnessed the schism.
Gabriel called on CARV members earlier in the summer to close ranks. She wrote in part in an editorial in the summer CARVC newsletter, “As many of you are aware, CARVC has changed management companies. The board of directors has chosen to make this decision in order to improve membership services, our industry presence, legislative programs, and our annual conference. This decision was not made easily or in haste. We sincerely believe that this change provides a management team whose ideals, work ethic, and goals are more closely aligned with ours, providing a more conducive atmosphere for activity and growth.
“A result of our decision to move forward has been the formation of a competing campground owner's association, not affiliated with ARVC or CARVC, whose values are not steeped in our traditions of providing non-profit services and support for the outdoor hospitality industry. You may have received letters and or e-mails promoting this association, but please understand, this association is a for-profit organization whose interests preclude yours.
“As we (CARVC) move into the future, we want to reach out to all those parks and campgrounds who are not members and extend a warm invitation to join our association in the pursuit of promotion and support of our industry. What is important to remember is that there is power in numbers, and with that power comes a greater presence and voice, allowing Carolina parks to effect positive change in our industry at both a state and national level. For those of you that are members, reach out to those parks and campgrounds that surround you and encourage them to become a part of CARVC.
“We would also like to encourage you to rely on Queen Communications, our new management company, for support and information. Garry and Marie Queen and their team of highly trained professionals are very motivated to support us in our endeavors and are looking forward to help guide us into the future.”
The breakup comes at a time when CARVC was just beginning to operate in the black following several difficult years. The feeling among some observers is that there aren’t enough RV parks and campgrounds in the Tar Heel state to support two groups.
CARVC’s board was to have met Aug. 9 to discuss the dilemma, we’re told, and to likely expand upon its game plan to hold onto its membership.