This year, the Northeast Campground Association’s 25th Great Escape will be Sept. 9-11 at Lone Pine Campsites in Vermont, and hosted by the Vermont Campground Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Since 1990, each September a different state association within NCA hosts the Great Escape, which is an end-of-season gathering for participants, and create a schedule of events to highlight that area of their state for all in attendance.
“The Great Escape began many years ago as a way for campground owners to get away toward the end of their busy summer camping season with others in the industry and discuss the needs of their regional association to grow and thrive,” said NCA Executive Director Cyndy Zbierski, adding that the first NCA Great Escape was held at Camp Taylor Campground in New Jersey.
With the help of generous sponsors including participating campgrounds, Zbierski said the attendance fee is always nominal and most often free camping is included at the host campground.
“Currently attendees from all nine states within NCA have registered and all are looking forward to catching up with friends,” she said. “Registrations are still coming in daily by phone, fax and email. Each year the Great Escape attracts on average 85-100 participants.”
In addition to the Vermont Campground Association, the NCA is comprised of the similar associations of the following states: New York, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
This year, the Vermont Campground Association and its Great Escape Committee, led by Executive Director Peter Daniels, have prepared a showcase of Vermont’s products and places.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing what Vermont has to offer to our northeast friends,” Daniels said, mentioning the itinerary includes tours of Grand Isle State Park, Hackett’s Orchards, Snow Farm Winery, Shelburne camping area and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. On Wednesday night will be a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen.
“Although we do have a meeting of the NCA Board of Directors, which campgrounds owners are invited to, this is a social time to kick back and relax after what was hopefully a successful summer,” Daniels said.
Bradd Rubman, owner of Lone Pine Campsites, said he was looking forward to hosting the event at his campground.
“The primary reason is because I believe the northwest region of Vermont is an absolutely outstanding area to visit,” Rubman said. “With our proximity to Burlington and Lake Champlain, we are able to provide a great Vermont cultural experience with a backdrop that is truly special. Those that haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Burlington area will be pleasantly surprised with all that we offer.”
For more information, visit campnca.com.
Two years after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont’s campgrounds are finishing a good season, with some of the areas damaged by the storm back in business and doing well but others that will never reopen, edgeonthenet.com reported.
Only a handful of the campgrounds suffered significant damage during Irene, but many lost business in the immediate aftermath of the Aug. 28, 2011, storm because potential customers believed much of Vermont was inaccessible, said Peter Daniels, executive director of the Vermont Campground Association (VCA).
Now, two years after Irene, the campground industry is doing well, Daniels said.
"The season got off to a slow start. But they’ve had a real good season. Everybody was expecting to have a full house on Labor Day weekend," he said.
Some of the campgrounds hardest hit by Irene, which dumped up to 11 inches of rain on parts of the state, are located along the banks of Vermont’s rivers and streams, areas favored by campers looking for the idyllic outdoor experience but also most prone to flood damage.
The campground association is made up of about 70 campgrounds, including the Vermont state parks. They total about 9,000 campsites.
Only a handful suffered significant damage, but at least two were forced out of business by the storm, Daniels said.
One post-Irene success story is Abel Mountain Campground in Braintree, located on the bank of the third branch of the White River.
Karen Colby, who runs Abel Mountain with her husband, Paul Rae Colby, says their 132-site campground was destroyed by Irene. After months of hard work, they reopened in the summer of 2012. Now they’re finishing a good season.
The Colbys bought what Karen described as a dilapidated campground 10 years ago, and they spent years rebuilding it before Irene washed away the entire campground.
"The campground was totally brand new right before Irene went through," she said.
They had to decide whether it was worth the effort. It was.
"So we had to do it all over again. What we did in seven years, we did in a year’s time," she said.
Everything had to be redone. All the power and sewer lines had to be dug up and replaced.
And there was concern customers wouldn’t realize the campground was coming back.
"We had a lot of support. We have a really loyal customer base," she said.
They’re also preparing for the next flood. The bathhouse is built on a mobile home frame. Other buildings are located on skids, so it will be theoretically possible to move them out of the way if another flood is thought to be bearing down on them.
"Last year was pretty emotional," Karen Colby said. "I think we are now on edge. You know, it’s something we will never ever forget."
Following on the heels of a newly launched website for the Vermont Campground Association, which was the first fully responsive campground association website in the United States, Pelland Advertising designed and implemented an all-new consumer-facing website – www.CampNCA.com – for the Northeast Campground Association (NCA), based in Stafford Springs, Conn., on July 18, according to a news release.
According to David R. Tetrault, executive director of the NCA, “Throughout the entire redesign process, Pelland Advertising listened intently to the needs of NCA and the desire to provide our members and our state associations with the best tool to bring campers to their campgrounds and interested travelers to their own state association websites as they plan their Northeast vacations.
“The new responsive site allows visitors to view the information they desire from any device by adapting and scaling to different screen sizes. This was key in the updating of the site as visits from mobile devices to CampNCA.com increased more than 31% from January 2012 through August 2013.
“Pelland Advertising’s commitment to excellence is greatly appreciated by the Northeast Campground Association as we rely on their professionalism in making sure our online presence is appropriate, functional, and a pleasant experience for prospective guests as we promote camping in the Northeast.”
The new site helps to promote the NCA’s member associations and individual campgrounds by providing online visitors with tools that include:
- A searchable database to find the perfect member campgrounds, based upon key amenities.
- The most comprehensive online listing of RV and camping shows in the Northeast.
- The ability to request print directories from any member state associations with a single click.
- An exciting new look that uses fluid content to display a presentation that is optimized for every device, from smartphones to large desktop displays.
Founded by Peter Pelland back in 1980, Pelland Advertising is the longest-running provider of advertising services to the family camping industry in the United States, producing four-color brochures and related collateral advertising products from the company’s start, now producing websites for family campgrounds longer than any existing supplier. Dedicated to serving the needs of the family camping industry, the company is increasingly recognized as one of the industry’s leading developers of social media content and responsive web technology.
The Vermont Campground Association (VCA) has launched its completely new website.
"To our knowledge, the newly launched website for the Vermont Campground Association at http://CampVermont.com is the first fully responsive campground association website in the United States," Peter M. Daniels, VCA executive director, stated in a news release. "Unlike a separate mobile website, this new technology allows a single website to respond to each user device and present the most appropriate version of content."
Unlike a mobile app, which must be downloaded and installed (and then may be rarely used), a responsive site is not limited to any one platform, requiring a duplication of expense for Android and iOS devices (and then leaving users of Blackberries and other devices out of luck).
"Essentially, this is the new way of building websites, and the Vermont Campground Association is pleased to be the first campground association on this cutting edge. Using a desktop computer or laptop, you are presented with one version of the site. Using a tablet or Smartphone, you are presented with alternate versions that are automatically optimized for the display size." Daniels stated
Custom built by Pelland Advertising, of Haydenville, Mass., the responsive design is only one of several features that are designed to allow the new site to present the most user-friendly experience possible.
In addition to the responsive technology, the database-driven and custom-programmed site includes highly sophisticated logic that allows users to search for the perfect Vermont campground or state park using map-based markers that respond to user input in real time. Users who prefer text-based search can also narrow their search by region, pre-selected amenities or other variables.
When choosing an individual campground, either from the map-based markers or an alphabetical listing, users are presented with everything they need to influence their decision and plan their vacation, including a photo (or three photos for enhanced listing members), a full list of recreation and amenities, nearby attractions, traffic advisories, generation of custom travel directions and links to the park’s website and e-mail addresses.
Enhanced listing members, in addition to presenting three photos, may also provide links to their Facebook pages and brochure downloads. The new traffic advisories are a particularly useful feature. Since written travel directions become obsolete with online mapping and Smartphone GPS apps, members may post either permanent notices regarding routes to avoid (such as steep grades or covered bridges) or temporary detours due to construction or temporary road closures.
The site also includes an interactive version of the 2013 Vermont Campground Association printed directory, using the Pelland Advertising’s new Inter-Flip branded technology. Among other features, the interactive directory includes smooth zooming, search capability, hyperlinks to advertisers, click-tracking through Google Analytics and simplified social sharing functions.
Other features include regional tourism information, business member listings, and useful links that include links to every other state campground association website. The member interface allows individual campgrounds to enter changes as frequently as necessary, not simply on an annual basis. The data entered may then be output by the association for consistent content in future printed directories.
"All in all, the goal was to create a very robust site behind the scenes that presents a very simple, intuitive, and user-friendly interface that will encourage visitors to camp in Vermont," Daniels concluded.
Year-over-year Class B motorhome sales surged 22.4% in December and 31.4% for the full year, according to the latest report from Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI).
For the 12 months, Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. retained its lead in Class B sales, owning a 36.3% market share, while fellow Canadian builder Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd. was second with a 19.6% share.
Thor Industries Inc. was the top U.S. manufacturer for 2012, holding the No. 3 slot with an 18.2% market share, followed by Winnebago Industries Inc. at 16.5%.
From saukvalley.com, Sterling, Ill.:
Sterling businessman Matt Prescott, owner of Candlelight Inn restaurants in Sterling, Rock Falls, Peoria and Clinton, soon also may be the marina and RV park operator in Clinton, Iowa.
After Prescott presented a proposal to Clinton City Council members Tuesday (Feb. 12), they agreed to have the city attorney negotiate his proposal to run the city-owned marina and RV park, Prescott said.
The proposal calls for the city to pay $120,000 a year for insurance, part-time wages and a marina manager. The contract term would be five years and the city would be able to terminate the contract if it isn’t satisfied with the service.
Prescott’s restaurant is on the second floor of the building that houses the marina. Having one person operate the entire building would improve service to marina customers, he said, adding that someone from his team is on site until 10 p.m. every day.
“If you have a problem anywhere on that facility, anyone can fix it for you,” he said. “It’s a big benefit to the consumer.”
If negotiations are successful, the council will vote on whether to accept his proposal.
From a news release:
The Vermont Campground Association (VCA) 2013 Campground Guide is now available.
The directory has information on its 69 private campgrounds and 41 state parks. Campground locations are shown on the centerfold map keyed to their listing and the amenities chart to help campers find just the campground to suit their camping lifestyle.
RV and camping enthusiasts can view and download the Campground Guide online at www.campvermont.com. They can also order a print copy and get additional tourist information for their Vermont vacation by clicking the link on the website or the following link: www.vermontvacation.com/en/Request%20Information%20Form.aspx.
The campground guide will also be available at many of the RV, camping and travel shows throughout eastern United States and Canada. Many RV dealers also carry a supply of the guidebooks in their showrooms.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The Sacramento Bee will be recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists when the northern California chapter honors champions of open government and the First Amendment on March 12.
The Bee will be honored for uncovering $54 million in secret assets in the California state parks system. According to the SPJ:
"Longtime sources and public record requests were key to discovering the hidden assets. The stories by the Bee's Matt Weiser, Kevin Yamamura and Jon Ortiz resulted in resignations, firings and criminal investigations, with the Attorney General's Office concluding that state park leaders had hidden the assets deliberately.
In the wake of the revelations, Gov. Jerry Brown has authorized $20 million of the newfound money to go to park repairs. The Bee has continued to follow the scandal and has examined similar budget issues at other departments."
From the Detroit News:
The Michigan Senate passed legislation Wednesday (Feb. 13) to change the way Michigan collects sales tax on new vehicles and boats by exempting the allowance for trade-ins.
Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, the chief sponsor, sees his two-bill package as a way to bolster vehicle and watercraft sales in Michigan and compete with bordering states that already do this.
While the legislation was approved by a wide majority, Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, argued against a new tax break when the state budget is delicately balanced. He said it's "disgusting" to reduce state revenue without also indicating "where corresponding cuts in the budget will be to allow (the state) to give out the goodies."
The state collects its 6% sales tax on the purchase price of a new or used auto, recreational vehicle or boat. Under the legislation, now headed to the state House, the tax would be based on the difference between the purchase price of the vehicle and the value of a trade-in.
For example, a buyer pays $1,800 in sales tax on a vehicle that costs $30,000. If Robertson's bill became law, a buyer with a trade-in worth $5,000 would pay $1,500 tax on the same purchase.
Robertson's proposals are similar to measures that didn't make it through the Legislature last year.
Gov. Rick Snyder has expressed concern about the measure, which would cut state tax revenue by $45 million the first year it was in effect and by $277 million in the 2022-23 state budget year. That's because the trade-in exemption would be eased in gradually until the full value of trade-ins are allowed at the end of the 10 years.
Michigan would become the 45th state to figure its tax on auto sales the way Robertson's bills propose.
From The Associated Press:
A pair of studies commissioned by a foundation that wants to create a national park in northern Maine suggest that communities near federal parks have better economic performance than other rural communities and that creation of a second national park in Maine could create 450 to 1,000 jobs.
Elliotsville Plantation Inc., which was created by Burt's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, commissioned the studies to explore the potential economic impact in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, and to look at the impact on communities with existing parks and recreation areas.
Montana-based Headwaters Economics, which has done work for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, said a national park can provide a big economic boost.
"Northern Maine clearly needs a new economic idea," Ben Alexander, associate director of Headwaters Economics, said Thursday. "Are people ready to try something else? That's not for me to say. But if you look at other places with (national parks), it clearly indicates there's an opportunity here."
Paul Bambei made some persuasive arguments during his presentation at the Twin States Campground Conference on why campground owners in Vermont and New Hampshire should join the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
But how many owners decide to join the national association after the ARVC CEO spoke to about three dozen of them on Nov. 10 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vt., remains to be seen.
“He gave a very strong sales pitch for the benefits of ARVC membership,” said Peter Daniels, executive director of the Vermont Campground Association (VCA). “He gave a lot of examples of large discounts for ARVC members. The music licensing was the biggest.”
As he has done at various state and industry meetings this fall, Bambei told his audience that ARVC is creating unprecedented exclusive value for its members. For example, its new music-licensing program that covers the three major licensors (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC) provides enough savings to offset the cost of ARVC dues next year, Bambei noted.
For parks with less than 50 sites, the annual license savings will total $686. For parks with 50 to 200 sites, the annual savings will total $871. For parks with 201 to 400 sites, the savings will total $973 and for parks with 401 or more sites, the savings will be $1,165. See chart below.
The deadline to realize these savings for the 2013 season is Nov. 30.
“Several of the newer members indicated that is something they should look into,” Daniels continued, while not offering hard numbers on how many might join the national association.
Vermont campground owners are an independent lot, as just four of the 70 members of VCA also belong to ARVC at present, Daniels said. Daniels does not believe VCA has ever been an affiliated member of ARVC.
In New Hampshire, where there are about twice as many campgrounds as in Vermont, the participation rate is better. There, about 30 out of 143 parks that are members of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association are ARVC members.
The association withdrew from ARVC 10 to 15 years ago for reasons forgotten by many of today’s owners, according to Gregg Pitman, executive director, but the spirit of working with ARVC is being revived
He, too, anticipates several New Hampshire parks will join ARVC after hearing Bambei’s presentation
“I see the potential that ARVC membership would be to our members,” Pitman said. “All I can do is promote this as a great option.”
Though New Hampshire has no official ties to ARVC, Pitman has begun to collect ARVC membership dues on behalf of New Hampshire campgrounds and forwarding it to the national headquarters in Colorado.
This act puts New Hampshire in a unique relationship as cooperating with ARVC yet not being identified as a “cooperating” state, he concedes.
To promote ARVC membership in his state, Pitman said he will enlist some ARVC members to record video testimonials which he can share with non-members.
Meanwhile, Daniels said the seminar presentations at this year’s Twin States Conference were well received.
The keynote speaker, Megan Smith, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, set the tone for the spirit of cooperation that Bambei brought up later in his talk when she outlined how Vermont is working with other “upper tier” states (New Hampshire and Maine) to promote tourism in the Northeast.
The 2013 Twin States Conference will be held in New Hampshire, most likely along the state’s seacoast, Daniels and Pitman said.
Camping on the Battenkill near Arlington, Vt., has closed for the season as the result of severe flooding damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene, the Bennington Banner reported.
Lesley Nase, who owns the campground with her brother, Peter Pratt, and sister, Molly Pratt, said this is the time of the year the campground generally makes most of its money. Its closing is also a hit to surrounding businesses, which drew some income from campers spending money in the area and using the campground as a home base for their Vermont explorations.
The campground has 110 sites and normally fills to capacity this time of year, she said. Right now three-quarters of the campground is damaged to the point no camping can occur.
Situated between the Battenkill and Roaring Branch, the campground is used to some flooding, Nase said. Her parents, Larry and Mary Pratt, started the campground not long after they bought their home in 1961. She said they were told by neighbors to expect fishermen to camp on their land for the first day of trout season, and that gave them the idea to open a campground to put their kids through college.
"You can't change Mother Nature; you can only live with her," Nase quoted one of her late father's sayings.
Part of living with nature meant building a berm along the Roaring Branch to mitigate the usual flooding. Nase said what happened on Aug. 28 and 29 was not usual by any means, as much of southern and central Vermont can attest. She said the berm was wiped out by the Roaring Branch's waters. Logs, rocks, and pieces of houses that had been washed away upstream along the Kelly Stand Road in Sunderland found their way into the campground.
She said her brother's foresight had all of the campers evacuated before the flood hit. Only one camper lost a vehicle.
Initially, getting help was daunting, Nase said. She called the 211 number the state was asking people to use and contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well.
Nase said she found someone to come by and clear a log jam, but not much else has been done with the river. She said it hasn't been cleaned out and there is still a risk of flooding. Volunteers have come by to help clear the property, and state Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, who also is a Select Board member, has visited the area.
Browning said she went to the site with stream alteration engineer Fred Nicholsen, who was called out of retirement by the state Agency of Natural Resources to help handle the problems created by flooding. Browning said he recommended deepening the river, as the rocks washed down have raised the bed.
She said the berm won't be put back, as berms aren't advisable where there are no houses. She said the river needs access to the flood plain so the water can be slowed down. Browning said the main question now is who will pay for the river work, as FEMA is mainly focused on dwellings.
Nase said the Vermont Campground Association has been extremely helpful, with its leaders making visits to afflicted campgrounds across the state. Nase said she'd applied for a loan from the Vermont Economic Development Authority, which has offered low-interest loans to business and farms affected by Irene.
Still, it's difficult not knowing how much aid the business can get and when it can get it, she said.
Tropical Storm Irene has had "a devastating effect" on the private campgrounds in Vermont and at least two have suffered "total flooding," according to a report from Peter Daniels, executive director of the Vermont Campground Association (VCA).
"Camping on the Battenkill in Arlington will not be able to access the damage until the river recedes. They may not be able to open this fall," Daniels told Woodall's Campground Management.
"Abel Mountain in Braintree has also suffered severe damage when the river flooded the campground and destroyed their office and bathhouses. All the utilities will need rebuilding. They may not be even able to open next year," he said.
Other campgrounds are working desperately to reopen in time for the upcoming Labor Day weekend:
- Horseshoe Acres in Andover has already brought in heavy equipment and outside contractors to open up for the weekend.
- Rivers Bend in Middlebury saw half of its campground flooded, including the bathhouse and laundry, but is now open and ready for the weekend.
"The remainder of our 74 member campgrounds across the state remain open for business," he said. "Some are working to clean up flooding over parts of the campground or cleaning up downed trees, but are ready for visitors. There may be roads closed to some of these campgrounds, so campers should call ahead for up to date information on road conditions."
Daniels added, "I am in the process of contacting media outlets with the help of Jeff Crider of ARVC in order to get the word out that most of the Vermont campgrounds will be open for the Labor Day Weekend."
Those who will be closed or partially closed may want to consider their refund policy.
"One suggestion might be to offer an 'Irene Coupon' or 'rain check' for free camping when you are open again," he noted.
The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa) and Vermont Campground Association (VCA) met Oct. 29-31 for their annual Twin State Conference at the Indian Head Resort, a 1920s-resort in Lincoln, N.H. This year’s event celebrated NeHaCa’s 50th anniversary.
Seventy-five people representing 35 campgrounds attended along with 13 exhibitors.
Bob MacKinnon, MacKinnon Campground Consulting, a certified park operator, gave two presentations. Other speakers included Laurie Haronrose, travel and tourism expert, who shared a message from the Division of Travel and Tourism, and Kyle Lombard with the Division of Forest and Land, who talked about the problem with campers bringing their own firewood to campgrounds. Due to Asian Longhorn Beetles in Massachusetts, the state of New Hampshire does not allow any outside firewood.
Maryanne Adams, chairwoman of hospitality and tourism from the New Hampshire Technical College in Concord, spoke on how to best handle upset customers.
The NeHaCa also sponsored a presentation by Nancy Comeau with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to deal with bears.
The association honored State Rep. Herbert Richardson for his role in helping to successfully repeal the 9% tax on New Hampshire campgrounds.
Six Gun City, an amusement park owned and operated by NeHaCa member Tom Brady (Fort Jefferson Campground in Jefferson), invited everyone to the campground’s Spooktackular event for free.
“Tom promised us a scary evening complete with fireworks so we decided to take a chance and leave the comfort of the Indian Head Resort for a little while on Saturday for Halloween excitement,” Pitman said.
A campground tour on Sunday included Lafayette Place, Franconia Notch; Ammonoosuc, Twin Mountain; Beach Hill Campground, Twin Mountain; and the group also toured a large Christmas tree farm.
Board elections included Steve Hurst, president, Sacko River Camping Area, North Conway; David Redfearn, vice president, Old Stage Campground, Dover; Anne Boles, secretary, Bethel Woods Campground, Holderness; and Neil Emerson, Emerson’s Camping Area, Hamstead.
Vermont campground owners are optimistic and upbeat about a better camping season this year, with some campgrounds already seeing an increase in reservations.
Eleven campground owners attended the Vermont Campground Association (VCA) Spring Meeting Tuesday (April 20) and the mood was positive, according to Peter Daniels, VCA executive director.
The focus of discussion concerned VCA’s guidebook, which up until recently was entirely outsourced. Now Daniels is in charge of the guide with the hope of generating more income for VCA.
“We spent a considerable amount of time at our meeting thinking about how we will sell the ads,” Daniels explained. “We are encouraging our members to sell ads to the various tourist businesses in their areas. This will help share the responsibility and generate more interest. We want to encourage campground owners to offer incentives to prospective advertisers. We also want to have some co-op pages with local chambers of commerce and perhaps have them help sell ads to their members who are in the tourist business.”
The past year VCA worked seven shows throughout New England and distributed 100 cases of guidebooks.
The next VCA meeting will be in September at which time officers will be elected.