In 1970 Mary Emily and Nelson Jackson started Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with just 30 campsites and one bathhouse.
How times have changed on The Grand Strand, as Ocean Lakes, with 3,449 sites, is now the largest campground on the East Coast and one of the nation’s largest.
But it was for more than size that Ocean Lakes — which begins its year-long 40th anniversary celebration this coming weekend — was awarded the National RV Park of the Year four years in a row by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
It’s because Ocean Lakes, rated “A” by GuestReviews in overall customer satisfaction, is just plain good at what it does. The 310-acre oceanfront park specializes in making fun family memories with resort-style camping and the peace of mind that comes with 24-hour gated security and patrols.
At Ocean Lakes, we’re told, adults relax while kids have plenty to do. The park offers an outdoor Olympic-size pool and three kiddie pools, a heated indoor pool inside the Four Seasons Center, a Sandy Harbor Family Fun Center, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a 17,000-square-foot rec center, playgrounds, bike rentals, a skate park and more.
The Ocean Lakes experience includes pizza delivery to one’s site by golf car, a book exchange library, RV supply store, a Laundromat with drop-off laundry service, and free Wi-Fi at Sandy’s Meet and Eat for up to eight guests at a time. The Great Rally facility can accommodate 1,000 or more guests.
Boasting nearly one mile of beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean, beach lifeguards are on duty to oversee water safety as well as beach equipment rentals.
Ocean Lakes in Social Media
Keeping up with customer demands is at the heart of the campground and in 2010 that meant a high level of customer service through cutting-edge technology, park upgrades and green efforts. “Customer communications is key,” said Barb Krumm, marketing director. “Social media really works for us here. It is exciting because it is always changing.”
Ocean Lakes in April 2010 celebrated its first anniversary on Facebook, and the campground is embracing Twitter, which is great for media, according to Krumm. Ocean Lakes utilizes social media to help answer questions and address issues, holds online ticket sales for special events, and is adding more video tours and photos to its websites.
The park, in turn, has been honored with various awards for its green efforts, which continue to grow. “We want to be good stewards of the environment,” Krumm said. “Awareness comes first by educating guests. We give them opportunities to act, like cleaning up after their pet.”
Ocean Lakes is the first resort in the Myrtle Beach area to dedicate a truck (shown below) and manpower to collect and haul its own recyclables to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Horry County as part of the campground’s commitment to becoming more “green friendly,” an initiative which kicked off last summer with Ocean Lakes’ iCare Program, encouraging guest responsibility and education. The program focuses on pet pollution, litter impact, recycling and finding new ways to operate more efficiently.
“Our ultimate goal is to reach 30% of our solid waste recycled,” Krumm said. “We want to surpass that. One of the ways we feel we can encourage guests to recycle is to continue to build awareness.”
The park plans to continue to invest in capital improvements including a new seven-foot tall Sandy Starfish, Ocean Lakes’ mascot.
“We also plan to work our campground culture into new events like our Golf Car Rodeo and Golf Car Challenge,” Krumm said.
Dog-friendliness is a large part of why many people choose to camp at Ocean Lakes, where the needs of pets are considered and pet fun is a way of life. The campground hosts pet-related events throughout the year. “We provide pet welcome kits that are free and contain two Mutt Mitts and information about our iCare program that educates guests on the importance of picking up after their pets,” Krumm said. “Included is a map marking the location of all our ‘Doggie Doo’ stations.”
The kits are distributed at Ocean Lakes’ main check-in, rental office, sales office, golf cart building and recreation center. When guests enter one of these buildings, they encounter statues of dogs that hold dog biscuits.
The park contains lakeside walking areas marked on the park’s map as pet areas. This 310-acre facility includes 11 “Doggie Doo” locations that dispense Mutt Mitt bags.
Many Events Scheduled
Independence Day is the biggest occupancy time at Ocean Lakes and this past year the park held a Salute to the Troops. Plans are also in the works for a big 40th birthday celebration July 2. See below for this year’s anniversary celebration events.
Annual events at Ocean Lakes include the Premier Bluegrass Weekend, Beach n’ Boogie Weekend, South Carolina Fossil Fair, Field of Dreams Baseball Camp, Halloween Weekend and New Year’s Eve Polar Bear Plunge.
Ocean Lakes features 893 pull-through campsites along paved roads that include 20-30-50 amp electric, water, sewer, dial-up modem-friendly phone jacks (with free local calls), a picnic table, complimentary 70-channel cable TV hookup and daily curbside trash pickup at each site.
Concrete pads are available, one camping unit per site, pets are included in the rates, and there are no additional fees for additional people. Campsite reservations taken by site number can be made up to 18 months in advance. An outside company provides LP gas service and the park makes every effort to deliver same day service. Ocean Lakes also features a variety of more than 300 rental units with access to all amenities. Oceanfront houses are available for families up to 17 guests.
Anniversary Celebration Begins This Weekend
Meanwhile, Ocean Lakes Family Campground kicks off its year-long 40th birthday celebration with its 11th Annual Beach n’ Boogie Weekend Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19).
According to a news release, the weekend will feature beach music by The Fantastic Shakers, known as “South’s Finest Show Band” and the internationally acclaimed group, The Embers. Beach n’ Boogie will also include shag lessons provided by award-winning shagger Judy Duke, prizes and food. NASCAR K&N Pro Series Driver Brandon Haley will make a special appearance on the campground with his dirt track champion car and NASCAR K&N car.
“Beach n’ Boogie is an exciting event that everyone at Ocean Lakes – from guests to teammates – really looks forward to each year,” said Krumm. “It’s a great event for the entire family. We’re thrilled that The Fantastic Shakers, The Embers, Brandon Haley and Judy Duke are joining us, and there is a very special surprise guest. We have activities for kids from ages 4 to 11 so that parents can have even more fun.”
Schedule of Events (All will take place in the Recreation Building)
Friday, Feb. 18
- 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. — The Fantastic Shakers.
- 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. — Kids Activities: Something for the young ones while the concert is occurring, including games, crafts, etc. Children between the ages of 4 and 11 are welcome.
Saturday, Feb. 19
- 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Continental Breakfast (advance tickets only).
- 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Shag Lessons.
- 11:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. — Lunch with all the fixins’.
- 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. — The Embers (Special activities for kids between the ages of 4 and 11 during the concert).
Other highlights of the yearlong 40th birthday celebration at Ocean Lakes include the Birthday Cake Contest and Gala featuring $3,000 in grand prizes; random prize giveaways; a “Picture This! Calendar Photo Contest;” the unveiling of a new mascot costume to attend events; the 2nd Annual Facebook Fan Appreciation Weekend; and the dedication of a town clock.
Some of the other events at Ocean Lakes Family Campground for the year are the 2nd Annual Salute to the Troops on Independence Day, the 13th Annual Premier Bluegrass Weekend, Gospel Weekend, 7th Annual All Star Golf Car Show, Halloween Weekend and the South Carolina Fossil Fair.