ARVC Focuses On Changes To Standards

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

In addition to performing a watchdog role in protecting private parks from new laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is making a strategic move to rewrite many of the nationally recognized standards for private parks.

These standards are contained in a variety of federal laws and regulations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1194 Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks & Campgrounds; the National Electric Code NFPA 70; the Uniform Plumbing Code; and the Americans With Disabilities Act Series 1006.

ARVC formed an NFPA 1194 committee earlier this year and is developing a series of proposed changes in the next revision cycle that will address Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for campsites; evictions and ejections; lengths of stays; as well as zoning and taxation issues involving park model RVs.

ARVC is focusing its attention on NFPA 1194 because that is the nationally recognized standard that the association uses when it works with state and local governments involving proposed regulations.

“By taking a proactive role in developing new industry standards, ARVC can get ahead of the legal curve and provide a framework that can guide legislators and regulators moving forward,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, in a written announcement.

“Since new regulations and laws are made by officials who often have little or no knowledge of the campground business, it behooves us to develop our own positions on a number of topics and to share these position statements with the state and federal agencies and legislative bodies,” Sims said.

Sims cautioned, however, that just because ARVC is asserting the private park industry’s positions doesn’t mean that every ARVC recommendation will be incorporated into the NFPA code.

“This is a very extensive process,” he said, adding that the closing date for NFPA public input is Jan. 5. The final updates to the code are expected to be completed in 2017.

While ARVC is continuing to refine its positions on a number of topics, the association is also working with the U.S. Access Board “to achieve regulations that are reasonable and attainable by the private RV park and campground industry to meet the needs of all guests,” Sims said.

ARVC also supports legislative and regulatory action to enable park operators to meter electricity at individual campsites. While park operators are not public utilities and do not resell electricity, ARVC believes that park owners should be able to recoup the actual costs of electricity by their guests.

“Some campers may use a small amount of electricity and others may use a substantial amount,” Sims said. “Submetering addresses this issue by enabling RV park and campground owners to allocate electricity to their guests according to their actual usage as opposed to applying a flat fee to everyone, which discourages the conservation of electricity.”

ARVC’s NFPA 1194 Committee includes Garry Cole of Shelby (Ohio)/Mansfield Kampgrounds of America (KOA); Wade Elliott, president of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash.; Mark B. Hazelbaker of Kasieta Legal Group LLC in Madison, Wis.; Pat Hittmeier, president of KOA in Billings, Mont.; Michael Hobby of Moon Landing RV Park and Marina in Cross Hill, S.C.; Rob Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. in Milford, Ohio; and Sims.

Comments involving NFPA 1194 and other regulatory or legislative issues involving private parks should be sent to Sims at ARVC members can obtain a copy of NFPA 1194 from the online store at at a members-only discounted price of $27.

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ARVC Presents Campground Industry Awards

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of top private park operators, state associations and industry volunteers last week during its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Knoxville, Tenn.

According to a press release, Park of the Year awards were given to RV parks and resorts based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service.

Winners included:

• Small Park of the Year: Big Meadow Family Campground, Townsend, Tenn.

• Medium Park of the Year: Shelby/Mansfield KOA, Shelby, Ohio.

• Large Park of the Year: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

• Mega Park of the Year: Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota, Fla.

Parks that made exemplary efforts to become environmentally friendly received ARVC’s Plan-It-Green award. The winners included:

• Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Mo., which received the award in the small / medium size park category.

• Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

Marketing awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. Marketing award recipients included:

• Small State Association category: Maryland Association of Campgrounds.

• Medium State Association category: Ohio Campground Owners Association.

• Large State Association category: California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Top-performing state campground association executives were also recognized, including:

• State Executive Director of the Year: Beverly Gruber from the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association.

• State President of the Year: Karl Littman of the Virginia Campground Association.

David L. Berg of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, received the Stan Martin Memorial Award, which recognizes RV park and resort operators who serve as role models for their peers in the industry through their exceptional volunteerism. Berg also received the Chairman’s Award, which recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty to further the outdoor hospitality industry.

David Tetrault of the Northeast Campground Association received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes campground industry pioneers.

The Supplier of the Year award was given to Wade Elliott of Kingston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group, a leading provider of electrical pedestals, meters, hand driers and other electrical supplies for campgrounds and RV parks.

During the awards ceremony, ARVC also announced the establishment of the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program, which was established in honor of Dick Hartford, the founder of Evergreen USA, who passed away in early October at the age of 68.

Hartford formed Evergreen in the 1980s, when campgrounds found it very difficult to obtain liability insurance. But Hartford joined forces with 25 campground owners and formed Evergreen as an insurance company owned by and for campgrounds. ARVC launched the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program by distributing more than 500 long leaf pines and Colorado Blue Spruce saplings to awards ceremony attendees.

The ARVC Foundation also presented its Above and Beyond Awards to Dick Hartford and to Judy LaPorta of Little Oaks Campground in Cape May Courthouse, N.J. LaPorta has spent a multitude of hours working during ARVC’s annual conferences, taking the lead in hosting the foundation information booth and supporting all of the foundation events.

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ARVC's Paul Bambei Putting Out Industry Fires

August 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

As high profile wildfires burned public lands across the state of Colorado in June, Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), was busy putting out some fires of his own.

From his office in the Denver suburb of Centennial, Bambei couldn’t see any of those wildfires which captured media attention and prompted some well-timed damage control efforts from both ARVC and Camp Colorado, the state campground association. But he could feel the heat that some ARVC decisions – even one made before he joined the association as CEO late in 2010 – were creating.

In particular, Bambei had what he called a serious discussion around Memorial Day with Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), over ARVC’s decision not to provide moderate financial support for Go RVing Coalition activities. Historically, that support ranged between $50,000 and $100,000 annually and was delivered by Bambei’s predecessor, Linda Profaizer, during RVIA’s Committee Week in June each year.

“The association (ARVC) felt it needed some recognition for the contribution and that was a way to get it rather than just sending in a check,” Profaizer explained to WCM. “For several years early on, ARVC members contributed more than dealers to the program,” although the campground sector has generally been lukewarm in its support of the RV-centric Go RVing marketing campaign because of its focus on recreational vehicles. There was a feeling for a period of years that the Go RVing advertising did not adequately reflect campground settings. It reflected RVs in neutral settings.

The last check presentation came in 2010 after which time the ARVC board voted to drop such support from the ARVC budget and leave funding up to individual member parks.

Starting in 2011 and continuing in 2012, member parks could send donations to the ARVC office and a single check was written to Go RVing, usually in June. That check totaled $6,000 in 2012, Bambei said. No check had yet been written for 2013 when Bambei was interviewed by Woodall’s Campground Management on June 27.

The absence of a moderate contribution from ARVC was addressed by the RVIA behind closed doors during RVIA’s Committee Week in early June in Washington, D.C. Ahead of that, an ARVC board member alerted Bambei to RVIA’s concern, and he called Coon.

Following is Bambei’s recollection of that discussion.

“I applaud what Go RVing has meant for our industry. Anything that stokes our industry and makes our industry more relevant to the consumer is something I am in favor of,” Bambei said. “And ARVC will always support it.”

But in explaining the board’s decision in 2010, Bambei said, “What they were trying to do was push the decision for funding for Go RVing to the members within ARVC who are the direct beneficiaries of it. They are encouraged to write a check and fund it if they see value. And if not, then they don’t.

“ARVC’s role is to promote the program, which we do on our website and we are the funnel that administers the funding that comes from our members back to RVIA. What got some of the RVIA folks a bit excited was that the funding levels have dropped.”

Bambei agreed the drop in financial support is “dramatic” but quickly added, “We make decisions each day on a much more limited budget. Ours (budget) is about one tenth of what RVIA’s is. It’s a completely different dynamic for us to be able to write a big check out of our pockets for something that is a branding investment that mostly RVIA gets a benefit from. The program is geared to people who are thinking about buying an RV. Does this program necessarily translate into somebody showing up at one of our member parks? You can argue both sides of that. As we track those leads, it is the members themselves who see it more than anyone else. If they’re not seeing that, they are not compelled to write a check.”

ARVC Still Supports Go RVing

“The important thing I want to stress is, we still support Go RVing. It’s just an individual business decision by each member whether they want to support it. ARVC as an organization supports it. Our Go Camping America website is the search engine for Go RVing. We didn’t ask for any contributions to redevelop GCA’s website when we were paying for that upgrade the past year. It’s reciprocal. It’s all for the common good.”

RVIA President Richard Coon addresses the 2013 RVIA annual meeting held in Orlando, Fla.

Reviewing his discussion with Coon, Bambei concluded, “We vowed to do a better job of communicating. Speaking for myself, I haven’t done a great job of that. I invited Richard to our conference in Knoxville in November and to our ARVC Business Forum (which meets during the conference). There are a lot of things we should be cross-channeling. We will try to do that more often and do a better job of it. What’s important is, we both awoke to a mutual concern. He told me he would take our discussion back to his board and he said they wouldn’t be happy. I said I understood that. I’m just sorry it didn’t get clearly communicated back to them.”

Coon, for his part, acknowledges that he has worked to build a better dialogue recently between the recreational vehicle industry and the campground sector in the hope that the entire industry can more closely work together – something that’s never really occurred in the past. “Look, RVIA has been working over the last couple of years to build more unity with the industry, not just our sales,” Coon said.

Coon says it’s consistent with other initiatives RVIA has undertaken over the past two or three years in its effort to better unify the industry. “We've done a good job in the areas of bringing Canadian people with us so we understand the Canadian market and their needs,” he added. “We've done a good job bringing the park model people back to the association, which are a big part of the industry. But one of the elements that is missing in the big picture is the campground industry, which we haven't had a lot of communication with in the past.”

'Superior Quality Parks' Issue

Meanwhile, Bambei and ARVC did some backpedaling on a decision announced earlier this year that ARVC would assign a designation of “Superior Quality Parks” to any ARVC member park where the owners, managers or other key employees had completed certain certificates in the new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program (OHEP).

“The original designation was meant to acknowledge a park’s commitment to education and improvement through their staff,” Bambei told WCM. “We don’t want to rate parks on anything else. We leave that to others. I don’t want to be the one with white gloves that determines whether a bathroom is clean. But we have a new education program that is being heralded by the people who use it and understand it. We want to recognize parks that try to improve through that program.”

David Gorin

Former ARVC president David Gorin took ARVC to task when he heard about the new designation. His viewpoint appeared in his In Sites column in the June issue of WCM.

By the time that column appeared, Gorin and Bambei had already spoken and Bambei agreed the precise designation could be amended.

ARVC subsequently renamed the designation “Superior Quality Staff.”

“We have communicated the change to all the state executives, to our board, the ARVC Foundation and to all our members. Everybody seems to be satisfied,” Bambei said.

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Enrollment Opens for ARVC's 'Music Licensing'

Editor's Note: The following information was provided by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) as a service to its members as well as nonmembers.

Did you know that your park is legally liable to pay royalties on any music that you play? That includes digital music services, Muzak, satellite radio and TV, cable, on hold music, DJs, live performers, karaoke and even your personal CDs, if you play them in public.

ARVC has negotiated a one-of-a-kind combined music licensing agreement available exclusively to ARVC members. This single annual license combines the benefit of coverage for both ASCAP and BMI at a drastically reduced rate.

ASCAP and BMI represent the vast majority of artists, with over a million songwriters, publishers and performers who produce every type of music. By taking advantage of this combined license, park owners can now play virtually all the music you want from any artist they represent, all year long, worry free. Monthly SESAC licenses are also available at a discounted rate, in addition to the combined license, for added coverage.

Here are a few common questions park owners may have:

Why does a “Park” have to pay an annual music-licensing fee?

The fee is to pay for a license that permits the park to have music performed on its premises, whether it is performed live, through recorded music over CDs, DVDs and cassettes or by music on-hold. Under copyright law, anybody who makes music available to the public needs permission prior to performing that music. Without a license, a park that allows music to be performed at its facilities commits a violation of federal copyright law.

What is a public performance?

A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public, for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television and by the Internet.

Why do I need a license from three different companies?

Each of these organizations, or PROs, represents different songwriters, composers, publishers and copyright holders, so to be fully protected, you need to be licensed by all three.

What is covered by a license?

The license covers copyrighted music played, or performed, for the public. That includes digital music services, Muzak, satellite radio and TV, cable, on hold music, DJs, live performers, karaoke and even your personal CDs. A license gives you legal authorization to play copyrighted music for the public and protects you from the financial penalties of copyright infringement.

Does the ARVC Music License specifically exclude any types of performances?

Yes. Additional licensing fees may apply for events for which a hard ticket from an outside source is required for admission, any event which requires a separate admission fee of $25 or higher or if your park incurs annual live entertainment expenses in excess of $5,000.

Aren't TV, cable and radio stations already licensed?

Yes, they are. However, those agreements do not authorize the broadcast of these TV, cable and radio stations to the public by businesses and other organizations.

What if we already own our own collection of music CDs?

The purchase price that you paid for the CDs covers only your use of them for private listening. Once you decide to play any copyrighted music publicly, you need permission from the copyright owners.

If we have live performances at our park, are the musicians responsible for being licensed?

No, some people mistakenly assume musicians, entertainers or even DJs must obtain licenses to perform. Since it's your business that's benefiting from the performance of music, park management is responsible for ensuring that the organization is properly licensed. This responsibility cannot be passed on to anyone else, even if the musicians hired are independent contractors.

How do I sign up for the ARVC Music Licensing Program?

The ARVC music-licensing program is only available to ARVC members. If you are not an ARVC member, go to or call the office at (303) 681-0401. If you are an ARVC member, go to and sign in with your ARVC ID and password. The open enrollment period for 2014 music licensing is from July 1, 2013, to Nov. 30, 2013. No late enrollments will be accepted.



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New Holland Agriculture: Latest ARVC Benefit

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has launched a member benefit program with New Holland Agriculture that can save park operators up to 40% on purchases of tractors, backhoes and other utility vehicles, according to an ARVC announcement.

“ARVC membership can now save park operators thousands of dollars whenever they purchase a tractor, backhoe or other type of maintenance or materials handling vehicle from New Holland,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.

ARVC created the new member benefit program with New Holland in direct response to feedback the association has received from members who have lauded the performance and reliability of New Holland equipment.

Based in New Holland, Pa., New Holland Agriculture sells agricultural tractors, compact tractors, attachments and loaders for compact tractors, backhoes, Rustler utility vehicles as well as skid steers and materials handling equipment.

To receive special pricing, ARVC members are encouraged to notify their New Holland dealer and indicate that they are an ARVC member and are eligible for a major account discount.

Based in Denver, Colo., ARVC is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership is comprised of RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisers and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities. ARVC is a not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization. Visit for more information.




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Best Rate for ARVC Conference Ends July 15

Deadline for best conference rates approaches.

Members of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) have until July 15 to take advantage of early bird registration prices for ARVC's ARVC’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo Nov. 5-8  in Knoxville, Tenn.

Early-bird registrants pay just $399. Members ordinarily pay $499, and $599 if they register late. Nonmembers pay $699 during the regular signup and $799 if they register late; there is no early-bird registration for nonmembers.

Click here to register for the event.

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U.S. Travel CEO to Keynote ARVC Conference

Roger Dow

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has announced that Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, will be the opening day keynote speaker at this year’s ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo.

The conference runs from Nov. 5-8 at the Knoxville Convention Center in Knoxville, Tenn.

Dow's presentation will be at the noon luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

As head of the national umbrella organization dedicated to increasing travel to and within the United States, Dow was instrumental in leading an industrywide movement to create the Travel Promotion Act which was signed into law in 2010. This led to the development of the nation’s first-ever communications and promotion program, known as Brand USA, which is designed to increase international travel to the United States.

Prior to joining USTA in 2005, Dow had a successful 34-year career with Marriott International. He frequently speaks on the topics of leadership, sales, marketing and management, and has co-authored two books: "Turned On – Eight Vital Insights to Energize your People, Customers and Profits" and "The Trust Imperative – The Competitive Advantage of Trust-Based Business Relationships."

Click here to learn more about the ARVC convention.


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ARVC Reps Lobby at U.S. Capitol on May 8-9

Jeff Sims, ARVC staffer

David Ransom, ARVC lobbyist

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has alerted members of Congress that cash-strapped cities, counties and states are increasingly attempting to impose property taxes on recreational park trailers or “park models” in violation of federal law.

“This is probably the biggest single state and national issue facing our industry today,” Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, stated in a news release.

Sims joined 27 private campground operators and industry officials in personally alerting 123 members of Congress and their staffs about illegal state and local efforts to tax park trailers during their May 8-9 visits to legislators on Capitol Hill. The meetings were arranged in conjunction with ARVC’s annual National Issues Conference,

The ARVC delegation also personally briefed members of Congress on ARVC positions regarding a variety of other issues ranging from onerous rules and requirements involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to defunding of national parks, highways and tourism promotion.

“We had two days’ worth of very productive meetings,” Sims said, adding that private park operators and industry officials prefaced their congressional meetings by reviewing their talking points with David Ransom of McDermott, Will & Emery, ARVC’s government relations counsel.

Sims said it was important to brief legislators on state and local attempts to circumvent congressional mandates and impose property taxes on recreational park trailers because they are increasingly being used by consumers as vacation cottages and by private park operators as rental accommodations.

“The intent is to educate legislators so they know what’s going on,” Sims said. “Recreational park trailers are for recreational purposes only. They are not meant to be affixed to the property in any way. They do not improve property values in any way, and they are neither designed nor intended by their manufacturers to be used as permanent residences. In fact, recreational park trailers are titled and licensed as motor vehicles by the various states.”

And unlike real property, which can appreciate over time, park trailers depreciate over time, Sims said. “A recreational park trailer is like a pickup,” he said. “It’s a vehicle that’s licensed. It’s not meant to enhance the value of a property.”

U.S. Capitol Building

In fact, Sims said, recreational park trailers are built in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 Recreational Park Trailer Standard, not the HUD requirements that manufactured homes are mandated to comply with. “Recreational park trailers are not manufactured housing,” Sims said, adding, “there is no practical difference between the use of recreational park trailers and travel trailers or fifth wheels.”

Other Issues Raised

In addition to briefing legislators on illegal efforts to tax recreational park trailers, private campground operators outlined ARVC’s positions on several other issues, including:

  • Fair implementation of ADA guidance on swimming pools and spas: ARVC believes that public accommodations should be permitted to store portable pool lifts and deploy them when they are requested by disabled people. ARVC also supports H.R. 203, introduced by Rep. Mike Mulvaney, R-S.C., which would explicitly state that portable pool lifts are ADA compliant.
  • Support for the national parks: The national parks could face a reduction in visitor services, hours of operation and a shortening of seasons as a result of federal budget sequestration. ARVC supports funding that allows national parks to be properly staffed and maintained.
  • Promotion of travel and tourism: ARVC supports legislation and policies intended to increase travel and tourism in the U.S., including visa waiver programs that allow foreign visitors to experience America’s national treasures. The U.S. travel and tourism industry is a major component of the nation’s GDP and employment, representing 2.7% of GDP and 7.4 million jobs directly connected to the travel and tourism industry.
  • Support for America’s roads and highways: ARVC supports funding for federal highways and urges Congress to maintain support for the Scenic Byways Program.

Based in Denver, Colo., ARVC is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership is comprised of RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisers and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities. ARVC is a not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization. Visit for more information.


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Gorin: '13 National School Most Outstanding

April 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

David Gorin

David Gorin is the former president of ARVC and is currently the president of Best Parks in America and the principal of David Gorin Associates LLC. He wrote this column which appears in the April issue of Woodall's Campground Management (WCM). He can be reached by e-mail at david@bestparksinamerica.

It’s pretty common knowledge that February and March are really busy months for the park industry, no matter where you might be. In the Sunbelt, it’s the height of the winter season where parks are going full blast and hopefully full occupancy. In the northern tier of the country, parks are busy with booths at RV and camping shows in their market areas and with state and regional association conventions. Just ask Jeff Sims how busy he is from mid-February to the end of March!

There are two important industry events that seem to float a bit below the radar of most of the industry – the annual session of the National School of RV Park & Campground Management held the third week of February and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association Annual Meeting, typically held in early March.

I was pleased to be able to attend both meetings and would like to share some observations with you on these two events.

The National School

I’d like to think that one of the most significant legacies of my role in the industry since 1987 is the National School of RV Park & Campground Management held annually since 1994 at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, W.Va. The recently concluded session was No. 20. We estimate that more than 1,000 individual parks have had owners, managers and other personnel attend the school over the years.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the school is “how did the school wind up at Oglebay and not in a more central and accessible location?”

The quick answer: Oglebay is part of a public park system – one of the first in the nation that operated under a rule that said it must be self-sufficient and not rely on tax dollars. Early on, the professional park executives at Oglebay realized that they had to develop a year-round base of visitors to keep the facilities operating and financially viable. So they added a holiday light festival that became one of the East’s most popular tour destinations between Thanksgiving and late January. These folks also decided that they had expertise in the park business that could help other public park systems improve their operations. This led them into doing consulting, and that led to a relationship with North Carolina State University and thus Oglebay became home to a number of NC State and other recreation-oriented schools throughout the winter months. A great strategy for asset management. In 1992, when the National Association of Campground Owners was looking for assistance in creating hospitality training programs, Al Daniels, owner of Normandy Farms Family Campground in Massachusetts, received a training video produced by the Oglebay Department of Continuing Education, headed up by Bill Koegler and Lisa Railing. To make a long story short, Al forwarded the video to NCOA headquarters and the contact with Lisa about the video led to a visit to Oglebay and thus the School of RV Park & Campground Management was born.

The key players in the early days included Al Daniels, the chairman of the new foundation; Erv Banes, president of the National Association of Campground Owners and a park owner from Frankenmuth, Mich.; and Herb Strauss, a national board member and NCOA treasurer; and yours truly. We were joined by representatives of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. (Please forgive me if the titles are not quite right – been a long time).

Right from the outset, Oglebay provided very important administrative and early financial support and they continue to do so to this day. With the experience of operating many schools for many years, they have the infrastructure and systems in place to efficiently manage and operate many aspects of the school. In addition, the resort itself has been a model in meeting changing consumer wants and needs, keeping up to date and reinvesting in its facilities and amenities, all providing an excellent laboratory for hosting the park school.

And that’s why the school is at Oglebay and hopefully will remain there for many years to come. It is a retreat center, a resort, a hospitality laboratory and a wonderful school host – perfect for an RV park and campground management school.

The just finished school session that concluded on Feb. 24 is perhaps the most outstanding session the school has experienced. There was a sense of purpose and seriousness among the students, that combined with a positive and energetic spirit, we haven’t often seen in years past. The student body is as diverse as can be imagined in this industry ranging from younger men and women moving into family businesses, a Desert Storm and Iraqi war veteran building a new park, several students from Native American tribes in Utah, to owners or managers of large independent or franchised parks.

And the school faculty really hit its stride this year. It’s always been an excellent group of volunteer instructors but this year the combination of this student body and this faculty seemed to jell just a step ahead of previous years. This year’s school session seemed to be a home run.

Having praised this year’s school, I must admit that the real word on how good the school was has yet to be received. Each year, the students evaluate each class and provide feedback on content and teaching. Takes some thick skin to read those evaluations some times but I’m anxious to see if the student feedback matches my comments on the quality of this year’s school.

Secrets to Success

When I think about what contributed to the success of the school this year, what was new and different? There are two significant factors that come to mind.

First, the connection among students through a closed student and instructors only Facebook page created, monitored and motivated by Board of Regents Member and instructor Tracie Fisher was a great innovation this year. I think this Facebook communication played a key role in building and fostering relationships among the students and between instructors and students before, during and after the school. I think it was a major contributor to the spirit and seriousness of this year’s school. Thanks to Tracie for introducing this social media connection to the school.

The other significant factor this year was the week-long presence of Karl Littman, owner of a Virginia campground, school graduate and advocate, and chairman of the ARVC Foundation. Karl’s personality and persona, his enthusiasm for the school, his public comments and speaking, his youthfulness that matched many of the students, his great big smile throughout the week and his regular visits to the library late at night to work with the students all made him a star for the week and added greatly to the spirit that pervaded the school campus. Thanks, Karl, for devoting your week to promoting the school and the Foundation. It’s good to have someone at the helm of the Foundation that really “gets it” and can convey the message.

Facebook and Karl Littman: the new sauce on an already great recipe for success.

Thinking of coming to Oglebay? Feb. 20-25, 2014. See you there?

The RVIA Annual Meeting

I remember former RVIA President David Humphries once telling me that one of his principals of association management was whatever the association board decides is important enough to do, must be done thoroughly and the right way from the outset. Anything less, any cutting corners, means it’s not all that important and it’s an activity that should be skipped.

Although Dave is now happily (I expect) in retirement, his successor as RVIA president, Richard Coon, and the entire RVIA operation surely continues to subscribe to that philosophy. And the RVIA Annual Meeting I attended on March 4 and 5 surely reflected the importance and the serious nature RVIA attaches to its annual meeting.

Although there were less than 100 people at the meeting, from my perspective, it was truly a first rate experience in every way. Outstanding presentations by speakers Jim Rogers of KOA, an economic outlook presentation by Dr. Lowell Catlett and a panel of top industry executives from the dealers, bankers, manufacturers and suppliers highlighted an information-packed morning session.

Jim Rogers is a charismatic speaker and an excellent spokesperson for the camping sector. There’s probably no one better to keep the RV manufacturers in the loop and help them understand the campground sector. It is generally quite refreshing to see a new interest among manufacturers in the park business. For many years, there seemed little interest in our business. Whatever the reason for the new outlook, it’s certainly appreciated.

The actual membership annual meeting included carefully constructed and expertly delivered details of RVIAs activities over the last year. Excellent RVIA updates provided by Richard Coon, Mac Bryan (RVIA’s vice president of administration and essentially their CFO), and Jim Ashurst (RVIA’s vice president of marketing/advertising and the head of Go RVing) covered the most important areas of association activities. And a special presentation by the president of the American Recreation Coalition, Derrick Crandall, on the outlook for outdoor recreation on public lands was outstanding, providing the industry with a complete picture of this important topic. With public lands being a primary place RVers travel to, the ability and receptivity of these lands to camping, campgrounds and RVs are critical.

I was quite taken by the financial report. RVIA is the custodian of a very healthy reserve, approaching $21 million if my recollection is correct. With an annual budget of over $8 million, having 2.5 times operating budget in reserve really is at the top of the scale in the association world. With it, RVIA is in a solid position to weather the economic downturns that may come along but is also well positioned to take every advantage of circumstances and conditions.

Coming out of the recession, the meeting was upbeat with a bit of caution in the air. The Class A motorhome sector is showing signs of a somewhat resurgence. The towable sector is carrying the industry. RVIA’s manufacturing membership is down from a peak of around 105 to now about 67. Richard Coon pointed out that at its peak, on average manufacturers were selling around 2,500 units a year; today, with fewer manufacturers and rising sales, the average has risen to about 4,500 units per manufacturer. So fewer manufacturers serving a growing market hopefully will lead to stronger companies better positioned to face any future economic disruptions and possibly able to step up product research and innovation – the backbone of any real expansion of the industry.

One interesting discussion heard in the hallways and over lunch centered on how to remove some of the hassle factor that accompanies the ownership of an RV. Jim Rogers in his presentation talked about all of the buttons, switches, gauges and dials, the need for more new owner training and simplifying the life of the RVer. Many retirees that own RVs take on that ownership as their new job. Younger owners who don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours preparing, fixing, adding or subtracting from their RV are likely to find the rig to be a real hassle then a pleasure. Maybe I’m reading my own views into the conversations that I heard, but be that as it may, in many cases the hassle factor is impacting on sales – especially of motorhomes.

Congratulations to RVIA on not only a successful Annual Meeting, but a good kick a– year!

Two great events – the management school and the RV Industry meeting. Two views of the industry from different perspectives.


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ARVC's New Website A 'Go to' Member Asset

A screenshot of the homepage for the recently launched new ARVC website.

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has successfully launched a brand new website for the association at

“We’re really pleased with the way the site has come together,” Jennifer Schwartz, ARVC’s senior director of marketing communications and partnerships, stated in a news release. She added that ARVC tapped Indianapolis, Ind.-based WebLink International Inc., a leading provider of websites for trade associations, to develop the new site.

“ has been redesigned to incorporate the most relevant and compelling content,” Schwartz said. “It provides enhanced functionality and easy to use tools to better serve our members as a more complete, centralized member resource for member benefits, news and upcoming events. It’s everything you need to know about ARVC and ARVC-related opportunities.”

The website features ARVC’s educational, operational and marketing resources, updates on legislative and regulatory affairs, as well as information on ARVC Foundation programs and industry support.

“We anticipate that will quickly become the ‘go to’ resource for our members,” Schwartz said, adding that the website also has an online community forum where ARVC members, supplier partners, and state leaders can exchange ideas and opinions about topics of interest to them.

“The website also includes a searchable database of suppliers that we didn’t have before,” Schwartz said. “Now it’s very easy for our members to find providers of products or services they are searching for. We’ve also made it so that suppliers can update their business listings whenever they want to ensure that they can keep the most accurate and up-to-date information in front of our members.”

ARVC members can also use the website to process payments for membership dues as well as their attendance at conferences and workshops provided by the association.

Based in Denver, Colo., ARVC is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of privately owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership is comprised of RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisers and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities. ARVC is a not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization. Visit for more information.


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