CalARVC's Event in Wine Country a Success

Participants enjoy the wine-tasting tour at the Wine Country RV Resort during this week's CalARVC regional meeting at the RV park. Photo courtesy of Evanne Schmarder and Facebook.

The first reports about the California RV Park Winter Getaway held this week at the Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles, Calif., give a big "thumbs up" to the inaugural event.

In the morning session, "Making the Most of Your Marketing," Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), gave an inspiring seminar on orchestrating the experience of your customer and how to incorporate the experience into a park's marketing strategy, according to a CalARVC report.

In the afternoon session, “Ask the Expert," six industry experts participated in roundtable discussion eliciting ideas, sparking conversation and sharing advice and insights on topics relevant to running your business. The conversations started here were picked up and carried on at length throughout the evening.

Roundtable member Evanne Schmarder posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday: "Enjoyed a fabulous California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds meeting yesterday at the beautiful Wine Country RV Resort – great hosts, great event! The day was full of education and networking. I was honored to be one of six "experts" participating in the rotating roundtable sessions. Kudos to CalARVC's Debbie Sipe, Susanne White, Mari Dudash and Wine Country's Megan Whittington and Cheryl Eckrote Taylor. This team rocked the Central Coast and attendees were thrilled from start to finish. Nice work!"

The day-long event also featured a wine-tasting tour. "This will probably go down as the most unique Park Tour on record: four different wine tasting stations were set up throughout the campground," Supe stated. "Wine Country owners and staff walked us through their beautiful park and at featured locations we met representatives from local wineries who brought samples for all. We learned about the region, the wines and admired the resort amenities, including a cozy secluded spa with a waterfall feature."

Hart, King & Coldren sponsored the “Tabletalk” dinner. After dinner, dozens of attendees gathered around the campfire until late into the night for extended conversation, laughter and campfire pies.


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CalARVC: Camping is All About the Experience

Editor's Note: The following New Year thoughts appeared in this week's issue of "Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates," an online publication of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

January: The nationally scheduled time to reflect, review and evaluate. Mostly we focus on our personal lives. While this is critically important, I suggest you spend some time evaluating your business as well. How is the park doing? Is it sound financially? Am I providing outstanding customer experiences? Visually, how does my park look? Structurally, what capital improvements should I be considering? Is this what I imagined when I bought/built this campground? What will by customers want or expect in this next year?

Below you will find links to different articles that have appeared in recent months in three leading online news services. They have similar messages about the evolving expectations of the new RVing consumer, active and engaged, seeking entertainment and amenities to match a busy lifestyle.

‘The Way We RV is Changing’

‘Boomerbirds’ More Affluent than ‘Snowbirds’

Colorado Jellystone Wins Jim Webb Spirit Award

After reading these articles, ask yourself the same set of questions from above. Have your answers changed? Whether you realize it or not, camping is all about the experience. The real question is what kind of experience are you providing? What changes do you need to put in place to ensure the “experience” is what you intend? Then make sure to measure, measure, measure your efforts with a guest satisfaction survey tool.

Recent articles in the CalARVC News have discussed the Experience Based Economy. To learn more about today’s consumer, click here to read a summary of Gilmore & Pine’s concept which was published in the Harvard Business Review under the title "Welcome to the Experience Economy."


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CalARVC Announces Feb. 26 Regional Meeting

Thanks to some very generous sponsors, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) will be able to host a regional meeting in Paso Robles in California's Central Coast region on Feb. 26, the association announced this week.

Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles will be the host campground. CalARVC will bring in a couple of guest speakers, hold some roundtable discussions and take a tour of the host campground.

Click here to read an earlier story posted on about the events leading up up to this regional conference.

Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles, Calif., site of an upcoming regional meeting for CalARVC.

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CalARVC Postpones Convention & Trade Show

Editor's Note: The following announcement appears in this week's issue of "Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates," an online e-newsletter published by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

Despite the success of the Vegas event (ARVC convention in Las Vegas) and the desire and interest of CalARVC’s staff and Board of Directors, a decision was made to put CalARVC’s convention on a hiatus. The reason: attendance. The financial and resource commitment to produce a convention is well over $100,000. Documented attendance at CalARVC and other industry conventions has been in a steady decline over the past six years. You entrust us to spend your dues dollars wisely. Producing a convention is no longer a wise use of your membership dues.

Our members have always brought home valuable information and insights from the convention. They have always connected and built relationships with each other and vendors. In this day and age of the internet, smart phones and social media, fewer and fewer people are willing to take time off of work and invest in off-site meetings….even when they admit it has always been worth the time and investment in the past.

We need to find a more dollar efficient method of delivering education while still allowing our members that face to face interaction that makes this industry so much of a family.

Over the course of the next 12-18 months a task force will be created to explore new models for delivering education to California parks, providing needed ways to network, and connecting vendors to California RV parks and campgrounds.

The CalARVC decision is disappointing to many as it comes just days after a successful industry event, the ARVC convention in Las Vegas. In that same issue, CalARVC had glowing comments on the just-concluded ARVC convention in Las Vegas.

More than 50 delegates shared stories, hugged old friends, made new friends, celebrated Dan Wright’s election to the ARVC Board, sipped some spirits, chewed on munchies and just had a great time during the California reception held in conjunction with ARVC’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo!

“I can’t believe how great it was to see so many members,” said Mari Dudash, CalARVC’s Director of Member Services who was attending the conference for her first time. "You don't see folks at other conferences hugging old friends like you do in our industry."

“Sponsors really stepped up to finance the event,” according to Debbie Sipe. “I was thrilled so many of our vendors and members wanted to support the gathering of Californians!” Our vendors were so generous; we have enough funds to seed a regional meeting somewhere in California. Wine Country RV Resort of Paso Robles was quick to offer their park located in the midst of the Central Coast wine region. Planning has already begun!



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CalARVC's Occupancy Survey Now Available

2011 report now available

The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) has published its 2011 Statistical Report on campground occupancy.

Fifty-eight CalARVC parks submitted at least six occupancy surveys in 2011, according to an association release.

In addition to its two traditional sections – Occupancy & Rate Data – the 2011 edition has been expanded to include three new sections – Campground Site & Amenity Comparisons, Retail Gasoline Prices and the Economic Impact of Camping.

CalARVC notes that campground owners can use this data to:

  • Apply for loans.
  • Determine the value of your campground.
  • Project your camper nights with greater accuracy.
  • Justify expansion of your park to local permitting agencies.
  • Lobby local and state officials.
  • Compare your operations with neighboring campgrounds.

Each of the parks which provided data is eligible for a complimentary copy. For all other campground and professional members, the cost is $25 and for suppliers or non-members, the cost is $50. To order a copy email



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California Parks Crafting Good Fall Activities

Camping enthusiasts across California aren’t ready to pack up their tents and RVs just yet.

Neither are the state’s privately owned and operated campgrounds, many of which are filling their September and October weekends with activities ranging from Oktoberfest celebrations to pre-Halloween costume and campsite decorating contests, according to a news release.

“Late September and October are great times for camping because that’s when we have some of our best weather,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), which hosts, the statewide travel planning website.

She added that campgrounds offer an affordable way for people to have weekend getaways. “Even if you don’t have a tent or RV, many of our affiliated campgrounds have cabins and cottages as well as RV rentals,” Sipe said.

Here’s a sampling of some of the activities taking place at privately owned and operated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in California this fall:

  • Campland on the Bay in San Diego: This park has numerous scheduled activities throughout the fall, including games of capture the flag, dodgeball and pickleball. The park also has arts and crafts classes, tie dye T-shirt classes, kayaking classes and adult dart tournaments.
  • Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert: This park has several special events planned throughout the fall, including a Halloween-themed weekend Oct. 26-28 with Halloween inspired drinks for adults and kids, a pumpkin carving contest and a costume parade to visit decorated campsites.
  • Far Horizons 49er Village in Plymouth: This park, which is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has a “best scream” contest as well as Halloween costume and campsite competitions scheduled for Oct. 18, 19, 20 and 21 as well as Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 28.
  • Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton: This park, which has RV sites as well as park model cottage rentals, has several activities on-site, including the 3rd Annual Buellton Vintage Trailer Bash held this past weekend. Vintage trailers and vehicles were on display. The event coincided with the 76th Annual Danish Days celebration in neighboring Solvang, which scheduled a parade, street dancing and other Danish-themed activities.
  • Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet: This park’s fall activities include classes in water aerobics, water volleyball, Tai Chi, Yoga, as well as groups that regularly gather for arts and crafts and square dancing. Car shows and craft bazaars are scheduled for the first Saturdays of October and November.
  • Lake Minden RV Resort in Nicolaus: This Sacramento Valley park’s fall activities include a mystery weekend Oct. 12-14 with a mystery puzzle competition and a mystery scavenger hunt. Hydroplane boat races are scheduled to take place on the weekend of Oct. 19-21. The park is also planning its first ever Halloween Zombie Walk and hayride and Thriller Zombie Mob Dance on the weekend of Oct. 26-28.
  • Lake of the Springs RV Resort in Oregon House: This park’s fall activities include a Fall Line Dance Festival Oct. 14-15. The park will also celebrate Halloween on Oct. 27 with campsite decorating, pumpkin carving, costume contests and a kids’ fishing derby, plus a tailgate trick or treating event.
  • Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina in Newport Beach: This park will have Halloween crafts, a parade and costume contest on Oct. 27. The resort also offers bicycle, golf cart, kayak and sailboat rentals in addition to guided kayak nature tours and kayak and sailboat lessons. Resort accommodations include 24 park model cottages and 382 RV sites.
  • Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert: This park will have a Halloween parade as well as prizes for the best costumes and best decorating campsite on Oct. 26.
  • Rancho Oso RV Resort in Santa Barbara: Guests at this park can watch stock dogs herding sheep and cattle every Saturday. The park also offers a bucking bull demo with “baby” bulls that are being prepared for future work in rodeos. The resort’s accommodations include five rental cabins, plus several covered wagons, which are arranged in a circle around a campfire pit.
  • San Benito RV Resort in Paicines: This park’s activities include an Octoberfest celebration Oct. 13 with root beer tasting and an Octoberfest dinner. On Oct. 27 the park will have a Halloween parade followed by a Halloween carnival.
  • Santa Cruz KOA in La Selva Beach: This park plans to host “Howlin’ Halloween” events on Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 26-28 with people and pet costume contests, a campsite decorating contest, a haunted house and trick or treating.
  • Smithwoods RV Park in Felton: This park plans to host a Halloween spaghetti dinner with Halloween related activities on Oct. 27.
  • Springs at Borrego RV Resort in Borrego Springs: This park’s fall activities include Friday night wine tastings. Future events will also include evening star parties with world-renowned astronomer and sky photographer Dennis Mammana on Oct. 6 and Nov. 4.
  • Stockton KOA in Stockton: This park is planning a military vehicle collectors weekend on Sept. 19-24 that will include a swap meet with hard to find military collectables.
  • Wilderness Lakes RV Resort in Menifee: This park’s fall activities include an Octoberfest celebration Oct. 13 with free German beer to guests over 21 and root beer tasting for kids. A costume contest, pumpkin decorating, trick or treating and a haunted house are slated for the weekend of Oct. 26-28.

Of course, these are just a sampling of some the activities and special events taking place at campgrounds and RV parks across California in the coming weeks. Consumers can find private campgrounds in their area by checking CalARVC's website at

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CalARVC Parks Anticipating Good Autumn

Northern California campground operators expect to stay busy well into September and October, thanks to a record salmon run, a later than usual wine grape harvest and some of the best weather they’ve had all year, according to a news release.

“This is the time of year when the North Coast has some its sunniest weather,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), which operates the travel planning website. “And while inland nights will gradually start to cool off, the days are typically bright and sunny.”

“We call this our Indian summer,” said Scott Adams, owner of the 78-site Bodega Bay RV Park in Bodega Bay, which has been family owned and operated since 1967. “You’ll see less fog, less wind and more sun. It will be nice here until the first rains of December,” he said.

Adams added that are festivals and special events taking place at wineries throughout Northern California. “They’ve already started harvesting some of the white grapes. The red grapes are still on the vine.”

Cooler weather has delayed the wine grape harvest slightly, but visitors from the Bay Area, Sacramento, Stockton and elsewhere are coming into wine country to check out the festivities.

“We’ll have some foreign tourists who come here from France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark. We also get some snowbirds working their way down the coast,” he said.

Many of California’s wineries from the Sierra foothills to the famous vineyards of Napa and Sonoma counties have special events for the next several weeks, including festivals and grape crush events ranging from the Annual Cruisin’ Calistoga Beer & Wine Festival Sept. 22 to Amador County’s Big Crush Harvest Festival Oct. 6, which involves 37 local wineries.

Late summer and fall are also big times for music festivals, such as the 6th annual American River Music Festival, which takes place Sept. 14-16 in Coloma.

Meanwhile, scores of fishing enthusiasts are heading north to the Klamath River to take part in the largest salmon run on record, which is resulting in three to four times as many salmon as the Klamath River had last fall.

“It’s incredible,” said Aaron Funk of Kamp Klamath in Klamath, adding that his park is filling up on weekends with people hoping to catch King salmon. “We’re going to be seeing this last into October. We have kids out fishing and catching. It’s becoming a family activity,” he said.

Other Northern California campgrounds also report surging business this fall.

“We’re looking a lot better compared to last year,” said Dusty Dillon, owner of the 24-site Sportsman’s RV Park in Fort Bragg.

“We’ve got a lot of return clients and people stopping by to check us out,” he said, adding that people are fishing for both salmon and halibut.

Other park operators are similarly upbeat.

“We’re actually pretty full the next few weeks,” said Vince Moreno, a customer service manager for the 32-site Riverpoint Landing Marina Resort in Stockton.

Consumers can find private campgrounds in their area by checking, the travel planning website of CalARVC in Auburn, Calif. The site includes links to RV parks and campgrounds, which provide their own “activities” or event calendars, which can help you figure out which parks have activities your family will enjoy.


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Report: Holiday Camping Spots Still Open

Campgrounds across California are gearing up for Labor Day weekend with a variety of activities that include everything from outdoor barbecues to live entertainment and outdoor movies.

But while many campgrounds are sold out for the holiday weekend, has compiled a statewide listing of campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that still have spaces available, according to a news release.

“There aren’t a lot of them, but there’s enough to make it worthwhile for last minute planners to see what we’ve got,” said Susanne White, a spokeswoman for the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts, a statewide travel planning website. includes travel information and links to privately owned and operated campgrounds all over California as well as an updated list of campgrounds that still have vacancy over Labor Day weekend.

As of Monday, several campgrounds across California still had vacancy, including: Benbow Valley RV Resort in Garberville, Escondido RV Resort in Escondido, Gold Country Campground Resort in Pine Grove, Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Kamp Klamath in Klamath,  Mountain Gate RV Park in Redding, Oak Creek Creek RV Resort in El Cajon, Rancho Marina Park in Isleton,  River Oaks Resort in Lewiston, Sacred Rocks Reserve in Boulevard, Shady Oasis Kampground in Victorville,  Springs at Borrego RV Resort in Borrego Springs and Sportsman’s RV Park in Fort Bragg.


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CalARVC Toots Its Own Horn (and Why Not?)

Editor's Note: The following stories appear in this week's issue of "Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates," an online e-newsletter published by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). The stories highlight CalARVC's legislative successes and encourage its members to get involved to help protect and promote the RV park and campground business. The message is aimed at California park owners but has applications to owners across the country.

Over the years, CalARVC has fought for the protection of RV parks and campgrounds from overzealous government legislators and regulators. Its robust Government Relations program monitors legislative bills, assists members with local problems and works with HCD to make RV park regulations as manageable as possible. Here are just a few “Wins” making it easier for you to do business here in California:

  • Legalizing of electrical metering in RV parks.
  • Legalization of Camping Cabins and Park Trailers.
  • Training certification for swimming pool operators.
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan template.
  • Separation of RV Park regulations from MH Park regulations.
  • 24 hour Eviction Law.
  • Imminent Danger Removal Law.

Click here to see the complete list.


Make a Difference in California Politics!

“Really?” is a question you might be asking yourself right about now. But the answer is a resounding YES, if we combine our efforts. CalARVC’s REC PAC does just that. This political action committee formed by CalARVC in 1988 has made hundreds of thousands of campaign contributions helping to elect business friendly legislators.

Again, you might be questioning this statement. Again the answer is YES. Can you imagine how “un-business friendly” California politicians would be if it weren’t for the influence of small businesses? However, we can’t rest on our laurels! We must keep up the fight and continue to put pressure on Sacramento. Your contributions to REC PAC are our industry’s best tool! Make sure to budget and contribute each and every year.


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California State Park Update: Only 5-6 to Close

Editor's Note: The following update on the status of California state parks appears in this week's issue of "Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates," an online newsletter of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

July 1, 2012, has come and gone. Through creative funding, more concession opportunities and a strong contingent of California volunteers of the proposed 70 parks slated for closure only five or six will actually close.

Additionally, at the 11th hour the recently passed budgeted returned $10 million to State Park funding.

Click here to read a complete update supplied by CalARVC’s lobbying firm Edelstein, Gilbert, Robson & Smith.

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