With an average occupancy rate of 63%in2017,thebestin30yearsaccord- ing to Beverly Gruber, executive direc- tor of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA), camp- ground owners and operators in Penn- sylvania had a lot to smile about when they attended the 54th Annual PCOA Convention &Trade Show Dec. 11-13. Describedas“upbeat,”theconvention — held at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, Penn. — drew more than 280 guests and featured 17 educational seminars and 12 round table discussions, along with more than 70 vendor booths at the trade show. “We used to host the event in November, but with all the other con- ventions going on during that month it was just too much for people,” Gruber told Woodall’s Campground Manage- ment (WCM). “So we moved it to early December and it has paid off for us.Ten years ago we had around 46-50 booths, so the event has definitely grown.” The theme of the convention was “Making Connections” and featured keynote speaker David Avrin, who spoke on “Blink and They Are Gone.” His topic covered looking at your entire park from the point of view of the camper. He encouraged campground owners to give the customer an experi- encetolastalifetime—“visibilitywins,” he said, and noted “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” Built with feedback from convention attendees, seminar topics included “Cash Management,” “Secrets Over- heard in 250 Campground Restrooms” and“Pond and Lake Maintenance,” just to name a few. Round Tables topics included “Maintaining Your Roads,” “New Profit Centers” and more. “We have been doing the round tablesfor30yearsandsomeofouratten- dees like those better than anything else we do,” said Gruber. “It is great for us, becausethosedon’tcostusanything.All we do is have a topic leader that directs the discussion. It gives everyone in the roomachancetogivetheiropinionona certain topic or ask questions.” Atonly15to20minuteslong,Gruber also noted that each attendee can attend at least four of the round tables. “Wereallytrytobuildabroadspectrum of educational seminars and round tables so that everyone can find some- thing they are interested in,” she said. In 2018, Gruber said that PCOA will continue to work on marketing and the association’s gift-certificate program. Currently, the PCOA has 231 members, a number that continues to slowly increase. On the legislative side, PCOA hired lobbyists two years ago to repel efforts by the state to implement sales taxes on all campground sites. Currently, campground owners only pay sales taxesandhoteltaxesoncabinsorstruc- tures that include a bed, not on tent or RV sites where customers bring their own beds. Gruber said that some state officials continue to really press for camp- grounds to pay the additional sales tax. Gruber said that during the last session “out of the blue” some state legislators PCOA board members left to right: Jacob Hagofsky, James Kesterke, Mark Wineman, Ryan Mc- Farland, Stephanie Schmidt, Jason Vaughan, Matt May, Barbara Repetski, Tim Cartmell, Debby Yeager, Jonathan Ammary and Jed Wood. Seminar-RichPCOAConventionDraws 280 Guests, More Than 70 Vendors tried to raise the hotel tax from 5% to 12%. “Put that on top of the sales tax and that is a lot for campground owners,” she said. At an auction held during the con- vention, attendees raised more than $20,000, which will be used to fund educational endeavors, including the National School of RV Park and Campground Management. PCOA also announced its scholar- ship winners: Donald Lemaster, from theTheLooseCabooseCampgroundin Kinzers, Penn., was awarded a full scholarshiptotheNationalSchoolofRV Park and Campground Management in MyrtleBeach,S.C.;ElizabethMay,from the Presque Isle Passage RV Park and Cabin Rentals in Fairview, Penn., was awarded up to $1,000 for a college or university course; and Joshua Rupp, from the Nautical Mile Campground and Marina in Templeton, Penn., was awarded up to $500 for continuing education. At PCOA’s annual meeting on Dec. 12, the following new officers were elected to two-year terms: • President – Jed Wood, Blue Rocks Family Campground in Lenhartsville, Penn. • Vice President – Ryan McFarland, Buttonwood Campground in Mif- flintown, Penn. • Treasurer – Tim Cartmell, Hones- dale/PoconoKampgroundsofAmerica (KOA) in Honesdale, Penn. • Secretary – Matt May, Presque Isle Passage RV Park & Cabin Rentals in Fairview, Penn. • VP Regions I & II – Bill Sujansky, Pioneer Park Campground in Somer- set, Penn. • VP Regions III & IV – David Mull, Shady Brook Campground & Boat Rental in Beavertown, Penn. •VP RegionsV &VI – JamesKesterke, Otter Lake Camp-Resort in East Stroudsburg, Penn. The following directors will fill spots that were vacated: Region II – Ron Thompson, SilverCanoeCampground in Rural Valley, Penn.; Region V – JonathanAmmary, StonyBrookRVRe- sort in Lehighton, Penn.; Directors at Large – DebbyYeager, Rose Point Park Cabins & Camping in New Castle, Penn.;andMelindaKoehler,Driftstone Campground in Mt. Bethel, Penn. — Ben Quiggle WCM 6 - February 2018 Woodall’s Campground Management show portion of the convention had 191 vendors in attendance and that they expect the same number this year. So far, the convention has attracted 12 new vendors. Severson pointed out that WACO will host a dinner Friday evening, March 16, for vendors in attendance. WACO is accepting registrations for businessesthatwanttotakepartinthetrade showasatrademember. WACOisalsohost- ing a drawing where one lucky convention attendee will win $1,000 to spend at the trade show. For more information, contact the WACO office at 608-525-2327 or visit their website at www.wisconsincampgrounds.com. WCM WACO —from page 3 WACO expects nearly 200 vendors at the spring convention. Camping World Buying Erehwon Mountain Outfitter Camping World Holdings Inc., a net- work of RV and out- door retail locations, announced plans to purchase Erehwon Mountain Outfitter, a Midwest specialty retailer of outdoor gear and apparel. According to a press release, Camping World’s acquisition of Erehwon Mountain Outfitter furthers the company’s approach to penetrating the outdoor lifestyle market. Erehwon is currently a distributer of outdoor clothing and gear in the Midwest, with three Chicago, Ill., area locations and a flagship location in the Milwaukee, Wisc., area. “Our company is diligently creating seg- ments within the outdoor space that allows for clear focus and growth,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Hold- ings. “In each segment, we are focused on finding connection through customer cross- matching and introducing the suite of Good Sam products, particularly through the Good Sam Club, which offers outdoor enthusiasts a wealth of resources. This will allow us to ultimately offer customers one medium for discounts, benefits and services for all their outdoor supply needs through the Camping World Holdings network.” Camping World also announced in January that it is planning to open 69 Gander Outdoors’ locations by the end of May. Formerly known as Gander Mountain, Gander Outdoors will focus on selling hunt- ing, fishing, camping and outdoor gear. Over the past nine months, Camping World has also acquired certain assets of Overton’s, a retailer of boating and marine accessories; TheHouse.com, an online retailer specializing in bikes, sailboards, skateboards, wakeboards, snowboards and outdoor gear; Uncle Dan’s, an outdoor gear and apparel shop; and W82 (formerly Windward Boardshop), a specialty store featuring snowboards, longboards, skateboards, outerwear, swimwear and accessories. WCM New Arizona Resort to Feature 70 Sites, 2-Acre Lake ground Management that he hopes to have theparkcompletedbySeptember.“Location is a big part of why I decided to build the resort in Gila Bend. It is a great destination for winter travelers.” He said the lake would be six feet deep and would be suitable for both swimming and kayaking. The park will also include sev- eral amenities, including a full-service restaurant, a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse, as well as pickleball and tennis courts. Construction was scheduled to begin in January on Gila Bend, Ariz.’s second RV park, a 70-site resort on 20 acres that will include a 2-acre lake. The $2 million resort will be called Sonora RV Resort and will be located on the west side of State Route 85, about 13 miles north of downtown Gila Bend. “We have our permits in hand and are ready to start building,” said park Manager Carl J. Rygg, who told Woodall’s Camp- SonoraRVResortalsoabutslandandoff- road trails which guests can explore in their RZRs and other off-road vehicles. Rygg said he also plans to provide guided tours of the desert backroads for people who would like to explore the desert, but don’t have their own off-road vehicles. Rygg said that he has been planning the resort for two years, working with engineers and local government officials to iron out the final details. “Getting through all the regulations and requirements was probably the most time- consuming part of the process,” he said. Oncetheparkiscompleted,GilaBendwill have two parks that can accommodate snowbirds and travelers. The other is the 130-siteGilaBendKampgroundsofAmerica (KOA) Journey. “It’s been a long time since Arizona has had a new RV resort,” Rygg said, adding, “Arizona has a lot of pent up demand and people who want to try some- thing different.” — Ben Quiggle WCM Carl Rygg, developer of Sonora RV Resort, a $2 million development in Gila Bend, Ariz., hopes to open his park in September.