Lebanon Reservoir Campground: 50 Years Old

July 12, 2013 by · Comments Off on Lebanon Reservoir Campground: 50 Years Old 

Carolyn Hartshorn, a charter member of both CONY and ARVC, cuts the cake commemorating Lebanon Reservoir Campground’s 50th anniversary.

From humble beginnings in 1963, Lebanon Reservoir Campground near Hamilton, N.Y., blossomed over the years on former farmland and waterfront picnic grounds.

Now a full-service recreational vehicle park with 135 sites and a myriad of activities to serve its guests, the park continues to evolve, according to a news release.

Situated on 90 acres overlooking Lebanon Reservoir, the facility hosts about 80 families for a seasonal summer home in addition to overnight and weekend guests.

Seasonal campers hail from several central New York counties as well from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Short term campers visit from several states and Canadian provinces.

During Open House Weekend on June 9, the Hartshorn family, owners of the park, feted campers with a photography display showing the evolution of the park, a hot dog cookout and an anniversary cake. Carolyn Hartshorn is shown in the accompanying photograph cutting the cake. Carolyn and husband Gailan became charter members of the statewide private campground association in 1963 as they began developing the park. That organization, Campground Owners of New York (CONY), will also celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013 at its Outdoor Hospitality Conference this Fall at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills.

The Hartshorns also became charter members of the national campground association, now known as the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), headquartered in Denver, Colo. Carolyn served as the first woman on the board of directors of that association in the 1970s. Son Truman now sits of the ARVC board and its executive committee and serves as a CONY board member.

Lebanon Reservoir Campground expanded its hospitality offerings this year by adding a mine sluice, shown in the accompanying photograph, where guests can pan for rocks and minerals. A bounce house, dunk tank, and jumping ponies on the playground, also joined the list of activities for campers in 2013.

Other popular features include mini-golf, kayak rentals, fishing, swimming, and boating. Live music is offered several weekends during the season. The camp store offers many wearing apparel items with the new park logo in addition to convenience food, candy and ice cream items.

Mine sluice at Lebanon Reservoir Campground

The RV park is now managed by second and third generation Hartshorn family members, including Truman, Mary Karen, Louise, Lois and Alan.

Lebanon Reservoir will host its annual Campers Christmas weekend July 26-28. The third annual Antique/Collectible/Favorite Vintage Car Weekend will be held Aug. 2-4.

On Saturday Aug. 3 a chicken barbecue will be offered on the Waterfront and live music by Fast Eddie and the Rusty Nuts.

For a full listing of summer events, more information on the campground, and to make online reservations, visit the park website at


VIDEO – CONY Again Backs Camp Good Days

June 21, 2013 by · Comments Off on VIDEO – CONY Again Backs Camp Good Days 

Today’s video is courtesy of Camp Good Days and Special Times.

Campground Owners of New York (CONY), a trade association of privately owned campgrounds in New York state, announced it is kicking off a second year of fundraising to benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times, a New York State-based organization providing camping experiences to children with cancer.

CONY-affiliated campgrounds and RV Parks across New York are participating in this fundraiser. All proceeds raised by CONY member parks are donated directly to Camp Good Days and Special Times during ceremonies held at CONY’s annual Exposition and Trade Show in November, according to a news release.

According to CONY’s President and CEO Donald Bennett Jr., the first year was very successful, and the association is looking to exceed last year’s donation amount.

“We were amazed that in our first year CONY member parks raised well over $43,000 for Camp Good Days, far exceeding our expectations. It was overwhelming.” Bennett said. “Now, knowing what we’re capable of, we’re setting a fundraising goal of $50,000 to align with the fact that CONY is celebrating 50 years as an association this year. It will make us proud to achieve that goal and do great things for the kids of Camp Good Days.”

Marketing & Communications Director Suzanne Bixby said CONY members are raising funds in a variety of ways, big and small.

“During the summer camping season, CONY campgrounds and RV parks are displaying change-collection jars, selling T-shirts and paper balloons, and hosting fundraising events such as raffles, dances, barbeques, walks, and more,” Bixby said. “Last year proved that any effort, whether it brings in five dollars or five hundred dollars, really adds up and makes a difference.”

For more information about CONY’s summer fundraiser efforts for Camp Good Days and Special Times, including updates on fundraising events at participating campgrounds, follow CONY at, or contact the CONY office at (585) 586-4360 and To plan a summer camping vacation, visit

For more information about Camp Good Days and Special Times, go to

Campground Owners of New York (CONY), founded in 1963, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. CONY, headquartered in Pittsford, N.Y., is an association dedicated to the promotion, growth, improvement and development of privately owned campgrounds in New York State. More information about the association and its campgrounds – including a free camping directory – is available at and



Mecomber Family Promoting Camping in N.Y.

May 17, 2013 by · Comments Off on Mecomber Family Promoting Camping in N.Y. 

Editor’s Note: The following story is republished courtesy of Campground Owners of New York (CONY), which first distributed the story in its e-newsletter.

The Mecomber* family lives in and travels around New York State, and they chronicle their many adventures in a blog that tells short stories about the interesting places they go and experience.

What makes the blog interesting is that the stories are told in an anecdotal and relatable way – their family is telling it like it is to your family, as though swapping travel stories around the dining table. Even the kids get involve with adding content to the blog.

Mrs. Mecomber is a professional writer and blogger, and her work and opinions have appeared in, USAToday,,, the Associated Press and she’s even been interviewed by TIME and The Wall Street Journal.

Blue pins mark travel destinations that the ‘Mecomber” family has visited in promoting the state of New York.

Use the blog to spark ideas for your own family outings while camping in New York.

The Mecombers have already sketched out some of the places on their 2013 travel wish list, and it’s safe to say that many of their destinations both seen and wished for may become part of your bucket list, too!

*According to the blog “about” page, Mecomber is the author’s pen name.

Public/Private Park Relationships Over U.S.

April 9, 2013 by · Comments Off on Public/Private Park Relationships Over U.S. 

Even without an organized effort to get along, pure economics may end up leveling the playing field between the public parks and private parks.

So surmises Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

With most states under budgetary pressures, rather than subsidize their state park and campground budgets with tax revenue, Sims says, “a lot of parks and campgrounds are generating their own revenue and becoming more in line with the market.”

A look around the states yields various findings.

Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY president and CEO

CONY Proposes that Privates Run State Facilities

In New York, where the private campground industry operates between 45,000 and 50,000 campsites and the state operates about 15,000 sites, the privates have suggested the cash-strapped Empire State turn over operation of state-run campgrounds, which currently undercut the private operators, to concessioners.

Donald Bennett Jr., president and CEO of Campground Owners of New York (CONY), floated the proposal during testimony to a State Assembly committee on tourism, the arts, state parks and sports development on Jan. 15.

The plan would create a more level playing field in New York because in order to cover items such as wages, taxes, insurance and utilities, the rates at public parks would have to rise accordingly, Bennett said.

“If the burden were put on someone else, the state could take the money to subsidize camping and put it toward capital improvement projects,” he noted.

Bennett conceded to Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) that the odds of state approval of the CONY proposal are “slim and none, but it’s an idea we’re putting out there. We have asked the state to take a look at it.”

CONY revisited its proposal during a lobbying effort on March 5 in Albany.

Like other states, New York has fallen far behind in campground maintenance and has troubles funding its parks. The New York park system is one of the nation’s oldest park systems. “Capital monies to resuscitate all historic sites and parks is not as plentiful as they need to be,” he said.

The idea of fairness also enters into the CONY proposal.

“We’re subsidizing 45% of the campground stays and yet we’re constantly hurting our own (private parks’) budget,” he said. “And the other thing that gets me as a tax-paying New York citizen, we’re subsidizing a lot of out-of-staters’ vacations. If the state wants to look at an in-state discount, I would be OK with that.”

The CONY proposal has support with the state’s ski industry and private golf course owners who see similar unfair competition from state-run ski resorts and golf courses.

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

Scandal Further Clouds CalARVC Stance

The relationship between California state parks and the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) is “non-existent,” says CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe.

“We were developing a relationship until the mess at California state parks last year,” she explained. The “mess” was the threat to close 70 state parks due to budget woes and then the discovery of an uncovered hidden slush fund, which led to the resignation of Director Ruth Coleman. Many non-profits then decided to pull their funding support for state parks.

Coleman served under “2 ½ governors (administrations), even through change of parties, which showed what a good job she was doing at state parks, theoretically,” Sipe recalled.

In December, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a retired Marine general, Anthony Jackson, to replace Coleman.

Jackson, a veteran RVer, now spends time each week in the field, visiting state parks in his RV.

When contacted by WCM, Sipe was preparing a welcome letter to Jackson, stating in part “when you get a breather, let’s talk.”

“He has so much repair work to do, I don’t expect to hear form him for years,” Sipe said, not entirely in jest.

“I think he has been brought in to get things in order but I don’t expect a long-term relationship,” she said.

Aside from the ongoing turmoil at the state level, Sipe says the competitive issue is not nearly as significant as it is in other states.

Of California’s 270 state parks, 100 have camping facilities. “Right now, state parks are charging a fairly competitive market rate for their sites, so that is a good thing. We’re not competing with them on a price basis. But with a new governor and a change in leadership, that could change.”

Other threats loom on the horizon, however.

State park funding has been slashed by 40% over the last four years, Sipe said, and there is no consistent or reliable funding. “It’s always at the whim of the budget and the current legislators in place,” she said. “State parks are still trying to find out how to move forward and come up with a reliable and consistent level of funding. And they still have a ton of deferred maintenance.”

“The challenge,” she added, “is that because they are so revenue-starved, they’re looking to our industry to see what they can do to bring in increased revenues. They would like to expand their (lodging) offerings with yurts, tent cabins, park models, etc,” she said.

She concluded, “They still have a long, long row to hoe. I wish Anthony Jackson well in trying to evaluate everything.”

Florida ARVC’s Bobby Cornwell

Communications Improve In the Sunshine State

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott created a bru-ha-ha in 2011 when his state park director, Donald Forgione, proposed bringing concessionaire-operated, RV-friendly campgrounds to Honeymoon Island State Park. After a massive public outcry, which included opposition from the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Scott dropped the plan.

At the time, Florida ARVC Executive Director Bobby Cornwell told WCM he was uncertain how the ill-fated plan would affect future relations between his association and the state. “I hope we still have an open relationship and work together when we can. Hopefully, it will be status quo and we can co-exist.”

Since 2011, that relationship has improved for the better, Cornwell said.

“Communications between Florida ARVC and the State Park Director, Donald Forgione, have increased, and Mr. Forgione seems to be understanding of our concerns regarding the unfair competition issue,” Cornwell told WCM. “We try to meet on a regular basis to stay in-touch and to discuss any concerns or issues we may have. At times we may have differing positions, but at least communications are open and I believe there is more of an awareness now how the actions of government may have unintended consequences by negatively affecting the private sector.

“We also know we are basically in the same industry and in most cases serve the same customer. Through our discussion we have realized we have similar problems, issues and goals, and it makes sense for us to try to work together if possible.”

CCLOA makes headway in state park relations.

Marketing Gains In Colorado

In Colorado, relationships remain fine, says Mari Garland, outgoing president of the Colorado Campgrounds and Lodge Owners Association (CCLOA).

The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife joined CCLOA as one public lands associate member within the past two years and the parties see each other at many state level tourism meetings.

“One of our board members represents the whole outdoor recreation sector on the Colorado Tourism Office and Tourism Industry Association of Colorado Boards,” Garland noted. “CCLOA is marketing the state parks in our Camp Colorado guide and as a single listing on the website. We would like to pursue more joint marketing opportunities as we develop the relationship.”

The two entities are not producing a joint camping guide as of yet, so distribution of the CampColorado brochure is still 80,000 for 2013.

“In 2011 Colorado State Parks and Colorado Wildlife merged and that merger has been a consuming distraction for folks from both entities. We are hopeful that our ability to work together toward our common good will increase as their internal issues decrease,” she said.


Bennett Says, Let’s Let Tourism Lead the Way

February 26, 2013 by · Comments Off on Bennett Says, Let’s Let Tourism Lead the Way 

Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY president and CEO

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 15, Donald G. Bennet Jr., president and CEO of the Campground Owners of New York (CONY), testified before the New York General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Assembly and the Standing Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation. His testimony focused on the current state of the campground industry in the Empire State.

Highlights from Bennett’s testimony are appearing in a three-part series on The series started on Feb. 22. Part 3 appears below.

The tourism efforts in New York state operated by the Empire State Development Corp. have been a little confusing as no outreach with stakeholders has taken place in quite some time. I am happy to see that a television marketing campaign took place this year for the first time in years. I was also glad to see the New York State Travel Guide remain a mainstay of the print marketing campaign. Although we are in a different age of marketing with the Internet, the printed guide is extremely important to accompany the website in a complete marketing program. The average New York camper according to research is 51 years of age, nationwide the average is 55. The travel guide is intended to be used while traveling.

The aid to localities is a program called “Matching Funds,” a program that has been a public private success story for our tourism industry. The program takes public monies and leverage such monies with a private dollar-for-dollar match. Examples of this success can be found in our annual CONY Camping Directory. Many local tourism agencies rely on these funds and the smaller agencies this program makes possible the resources to have a tourism office and program.

In Gov. Cuomo’s 2013 state of the state address he mentioned a regional competition for $5 million. I am hoping that this is not the new matching funds program. My fear with a competitive process as the governor describes it in his address. Is that the tourism offices with the largest staff and the most resources will be able to “win” the lion’s share of the awards by being able to put together better programs and proposals.

The governor also spoke of regionalization in the tourism arena coupled with the Economic Development councils. Several problems come to mind. First the tourism regions do not match with the economic development regions. Examples (Sullivan and Ulster counties are included in the Hudson Valley Economic Development council region while in the Tourism Region they are a member of the Catskill region). Many other examples exist throughout the state.

Secondly, the regional approach seems like a nice idea but I am afraid that only the large businesses will get grants and funding. The current matching funds system provides monies to counties individually where they can leverage their own budgets, sales tax and occupancy tax revenues to have the professional marketers referred to as TPA’s (Tourism Promotion Agents) provide a customized marketing plan to showcase the unique assets that their particular county has to offer, whereby the state can leverage private funding and double their investment through this program as the I Love NY logo must be included on all marketing utilizing matching funds.

The matching funds program is a great help to small private businesses to enable them to promote themselves. I am hoping that this committee will work to ensure the Matching Funds program continue and operate as it has.


I know that the budget is and will continue to be very tight but one of the bright spots in regards to employment has been in tourism related businesses. Let’s let tourism lead the way to a healthy New York state economy. I feel that more public private partnerships can be explored and potentially be developed to leverage non-taxpayer assets to promote New York state as a destination.

In summary, please work to keep the matching dunds program in place as it has operated. Regions as specified for Tourism and the Economic Development regions need to be aligned. With the governor’s state of the state address and expanding the school calendar we must be cognizant of two things:

  • If we remove the summer break, we hurt seasonal tourism businesses by making it harder for families to spend quality time together exploring our great state.
  • Also, we take the risk of hurting these tourism and agriculture businesses as many of these businesses rely on students to provide a seasonal labor force.

CONY is Scheduling Zone Meetings in March

February 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on CONY is Scheduling Zone Meetings in March 

Campground Owners of New York (CONY will hold Spring Zone Meetings across New York state the week of March 25.

CONY will present four one-day zone meetings at four separate locations across the state ahead of the start of the 2013 camping season. Zone meetings are designed to provide tools and resources to campground and RV park owners and operators to help them make a success of their business, according to a news release. Campgrounds are welcome to attend the meeting convenient to their location.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, March 25, Queensbury Hotel, Glens Falls.
  • Tuesday, March 26, Holiday Inn, Kingston.
  • Wednesday, March 27, The Maplewood Inn, Liverpool.
  • Thursday, March 28, Clarion Hotel, Batavia.

Presenters will speak on topics including:

  • New initiatives being implemented in 2013 by CONY.
  • 2012 campground occupancy survey results.
  • Developing disaster plans for parks.
  • Legislative and national issues updates.

The event will also feature a mini trade show of campground-friendly vendors and a moderated “cracker barrel” session.

CONY Zone Meetings are opportunities for CONY members – campground and RV park owners and operators – to start their seasons out with current information in order to make the best business decisions possible, as well as order products from vendors and network with fellow members. They are held annually in four locations to serve the 200 member parks around New York state. Non-member campgrounds are welcome to attend to find out more about CONY and its services and benefits.

Registration is $30 per person and includes all materials, continental breakfast and lunch. Registration forms and directions can be obtained from the CONY office at, or (585) 586-4360.

“We welcome all campground operators, both members and prospective members to come to a regional zone meeting and encourage them to bring their managers and staff to learn what they need to know to make their businesses the best they can be and find out what CONY can do for them,” said Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY president and CEO.


CONY Urges Privatizing State Park Operations

February 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on CONY Urges Privatizing State Park Operations 

Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY president/CEO

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 15, Donald G. Bennet Jr., president and CEO of the Campground Owners of New York (CONY), testified before the New York General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports Assembly and the Standing Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation. His testimony focused on the current state of the campground industry in the Empire State.

Highlights from Bennett’s testimony are appearing in a three-part series on The series started on Feb. 22. Click here to read that first installlment.

Part 2 appears below.

First of all I have to say that in the private campground sector we need public parks. Our customers from near and far want to spend time in many of our famous parks and historic sites.

1) With the economy as it is currently, many more families have to find affordable ways to spend leisure time. Thus the increase in the use of park facilities.

2) Public parks are a great driver of tourism and a natural draw for visitors far and wide to visit the parks.

3) Richard Louve’s book “ The Last Child in the Woods” and many studies peg the average 6th grader in this country spending approximately 6-8 hours per day in front of some type of screen. Childhood obesity among American children has become an epidemic problem. If this trend continues, the life expectancy among children will begin a downward trend for the first time in many decades. We must work to promote the “getting kids outdoors” or parks will over time be viewed as less and less important and usage will decline. Social Media is actually Anti-Social media. With Gov. Cuomo’s initiative for extended school hours and possible extended school year, please take heed as children are not able to experience the outdoors. What will this plan do to tourism in New York State? What will this plan do for the labor shortages at the agriculture jobs as well as the many tourism jobs that these students provide to the sector? What valuable training in hospitality that these students learn? Not all learning in life needs to be in a classroom.

4) Several advantages that state run campgrounds have over private is that insurance and real estate taxes are not expenses of state-run campgrounds. Many other expenses are shared via park police, etc. I know many organizations have been formed to promote the idea of garnering additional taxpayer funding for the development and improvement of state parks and historic sites. We must find funding for parks from users of parks, it’s only fair. The state campgrounds even have a built in Camper Assistance Program trading labor for campsite usage. The private sector used to try this calling them workcampers however the workers’ compensation and ny unemployment insurance carriers put a stop to it on the private sector end. How does the state get away with this?

5) I feel that the state campground facilities and many other areas golf courses, ski resorts, resorts operations should be privatized. This concept would let the office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation focus on the Day Use parks for the benefit of our New York residents and out of state visitors. Privatization would provide the ability for the vendor to implement and finance many of the upgrades that the users of the facilities seek rather than the taxpayers as a whole. By privatizing the state businesses, it would remove much of the unfair competition aspect that currently exists.

6) I also feel that many of the departments should be realigned. The Department of Environmental Conservation operates approximately 6,000 campsites and the Office of Parks and Recreation operates approximately 8,700 campsites. Why not consolidate the operations? We also have oversight and regulatory irregularities. The Department of Environmental Conservation has oversight of regulations for many aspects of privately owned campgrounds, waste water systems, flood plain regulations while in direct competition? The same can be said for the Office of Parks and Historic Sites. Regulations exist in case a private campground is on a historic site. Oversight and regulations come into play while the department is in direct competition. Why not realign and let one agency oversee the campground operations while the other agency houses the regulatory side? This would ease the appearance of the direct conflict of interest that appears. Or why not lease out the state campground operations to a concessionaire(s)?

3) Regulations

a. Privately owned campgrounds face a burdensome regulatory environment.

b. Department of Health codes lead the way but we have a rapidly changing environment.

c. Don’t move firewood for fear of moving invasive species has been on the forefront the past few years.

d. We now face the prospect of bed bugs in rental cabin units.

e. DEC/FEMA with Flood Plain enforcement,

f. Historic Site regulation for new parks, if the park is in a historic area or near a body of water.

g. Adirondack Park the APA regulations, Ag and Markets for campground store operations,

h. Department of State and local for CODE issues.

i. ADA access for the disabled regulations

j. and the list goes on and on.

TUESDAY: Tourism promotion confusing

CONY’s CEO Standing Up for Parks in Hearing

February 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on CONY’s CEO Standing Up for Parks in Hearing 

Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY president/CEO

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 15, Donald G. Bennet Jr., president and CEO of the Campground Owners of New York (CONY), testified before the New York General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Assembly and the Standing Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation. His testimony focused on the current state of the campground industry in the Empire State. 

About Donald Bennett and CONY:

Bennett has been with CONY for almost seven years as CEO. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a third generation campground owner. His campground business just concluded its 50th year of operation in the Finger Lakes region.

CONY is headquartered in Pittsford, N.Y., and has approximately 200 privately owned campgrounds all over New York state as members. The organization was founded in 1963. CONY is dedicated to the promotion, growth, improvement and development of privately owned campgrounds in New York state.

Highlights from Bennett’s testimony will appear in a three-part series on Part 1 appears below. 

Summary of the Privately Owned Campground Segment for 2012

Privately owned campgrounds and RV parks in New York state have experienced an average to above average campaign for 2012. The camping sector of the outdoor hospitality industry is very dependent on such conditions as the weather, fuel prices, the economy and current trends. In 2012 the weather cooperated, fuel prices remained stable; $4 per gallon seems to be the tipping point for many; the economy is still somewhat soft. Generally in bad economic times, camping becomes an affordable vacation. With the economy as it is, families are trading down from much costlier vacations, to thus learning to live with less.

Some statistics for the New York camper:

1) 74% of New York campers were at home the night before vs. North America at 54%. This shows the trend that with the poor economy, people stay closer to home commonly coined as “staycations.” As families struggle with employment issues and many families have become two income with both spouses working, it has become more difficult to align vacation time. Short, close to home vacations, getaways or weekends have become more popular.

2) 18% of the campers were first time camper’s vs. 15% for North America.

3) The purpose of the stay at private campgrounds: On the way to another location in New York was 25%. The national average is 48%. A Getaway/Weekend in New York amounted to 51% vs. 34% for North America. Stay and Play for New York amounted to 24%, while the national average was 18%.

The Private Campground Owner Faces:

1) Increased fees, taxes and expenses:

a. Fees have increased exponentially over the past few years. Examples are: Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) spedies permit. The permit for septic systems and the discharge into the ground system. DEC does nothing for this fee but yet it has doubled in the last few years. Ag and Markets charge a small seasonal operation the same fee as a multi-million dollar grocery store.

b. It is widely known that real estate taxes have increased a tremendous amount while assessed values have also raced ahead compounding the problem of high taxes. Many municipalities have implemented Occupancy Taxes on rental units and cabins and even in one county on campsites themselves. Campgrounds must be commended on green space and keeping large parcels of land from regular development, while keeping them on the tax rolls to help the funding of the local communities in which they are located.

c. Expenses have risen beyond belief. Electricity is one of the major expenses of a campground operation. Campgrounds are classified as a commercial electric user even though most of the electric is a residential nature. As a new small residential increase in transmission costs was widely debated in open forum, a radical large increase was kept under the radar that took effect in October 2010. This will prove to be a large and costly increase. Some meters’ transmission charges and fees will in some cases triple. Some expenses fall on the consumer. To use the New York State Thruway without an easy pass, certain campers can cost $75 from one end of the state to the next.

2) Competition:

a. Privately owned campgrounds have been competing unfairly with New York State run campsites for decades.

i. Between the Office of Parks and the DEC, state-run parks account for approximately 15,000 campsites. The private sector contains approximately 45,000 campsites statewide.

ii. I would like to point out that camping is a privilege, not a right. I don’t think that subsidizing camping at state run facilities is the best use of taxpayer dollars, considering the many capital updates that the state-run facilities require that could be paid for out of operations.

iii. Many visitors to state-run facilities are from other states and provinces. Out-of-state citizens should at least pay market rate or at a minimum at break even rate. Many other states have two rates for their state-owned facilities giving their residents a “discount.” Why is it that New York state taxpayers are subsidizing out-of-state residents’ vacations?

MONDAY: A closer look at parks in New York.

CONY Guide to New York Camping Published

January 29, 2013 by · Comments Off on CONY Guide to New York Camping Published 

The 2013 CONY guide: a “must read” for camping visitors to the Empire State.

The 2013 Directory of Campgrounds and RV Parks, published by Campground Owners of New York (CONY) is now available. In addition to information about CONY parks, users will find engaging editorial celebrating CONY’s 50-year anniversary, exploring the growth and development of the RV lifestyle in America by RV historian Al Hasselbart and previewing milestones for New York’s tourist attractions, according to a news release. “It’s a ‘must read’ if you’re planning a camping or RVing adventure in New York,” said Donald Bennett, CONY president and CEO.




CONY Announces Marketing Award Winners

November 20, 2012 by · Comments Off on CONY Announces Marketing Award Winners 

Campground Owners of New York (CONY), a trade association for privately owned campgrounds, honored three member campgrounds with marketing awards at the association’s awards banquet held during its 49th Annual Exposition for the Outdoor Hospitality Industry, at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, Queensbury, N.Y., on Nov. 3.

Awards were announced for the following categories: Website design; simple brochure and mailer piece. An independent panel reviewed all submissions and picked the winners for each category.

Donald Bennett Jr., president and CEO of CONY, stated in a news release that campground owners are really getting savvy about the creative side of their marketing pieces.

Bennett remarked, “Each year that we hold this awards contest I see better and better marketing efforts from our campgrounds, including websites, digital promotions, and print pieces. The owners are working with our associate members and other experts in the design and marketing fields to take the best they have to offer in camping experiences, and using creative ways to make their parks attractive to consumers through their marketing pieces.”

The 2012 winners for best marketing pieces are:

  • Best Website: Copake KOA, Copake, N.Y. Gary and Cathy Reinard, owners. The website was designed by Savannah Wolf. Copake KOA is situated just two hours north of New York City in the scenic and historic Hudson Valley Region, and has merited the KOA Founder’s Award for service and excellence. For more information about Copake KOA and to view the award-winning website, go to See photo of award recipients at end of this story.
  • Best Simple Brochure Design: Lake George RV Park, Lake George, N.Y. The brochure was designed by owner David King with Kimberly Smith. It features an unusual cutout at the top of the front cover, with the Adirondack mountain range rising up above the rest of the pages. Lake George RV Park is a premier resort RV Park in the heart of Lake George (a popular tourist destination), with full-service facilities and an abundance of spectacular on-site recreation for the whole family. For more information about Lake George RV Park go to See photo of award recipients at end of this story.
  • Best Mailer Piece Design: Rainbow Shores Campsites & Motel, Pulaski, N.Y. The direct mailer piece was designed by Taylor Communications of Fairport, N.Y., for owners Louis Petrocci and Laurie Bulluck. Rainbow Shores is located on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario, and is 10 minutes from world-class fishing in the Salmon River. For more information about Rainbow Shores Campsites & Motel, go to

From left: CONY President and CEO Donald Bennett Jr., CONY Board Chairman Mike Papp, a Copake staffperson, Copake KOA owner Cathy Reinard and daughter Chrissy Reinard. Copake KOA won the CONY marketing award for best website design.


From left: CONY President and CEO Donald Bennett Jr., CONY Board Chairman Mike Papp, and David King and mother Jessica King, owners of Lake George RV Park. Lake George RV Park won the CONY marketing award for best simple brochure.

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