The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) has re-examined its stance on state conventions. Despite the desire and interest of CalARVC’s staff and board, a decision was made to put CalARVC’s convention on a hiatus. The reason is waning attendance, according to the association in this week’s edition of “Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates.”
CalARVC noted, “The financial and resource commitment to produce a convention is well over $100,000. Documented attendance at CalARVC and other industry conventions has been in a steady decline over the past six years. The board and staff decided that it could not risk the money to finance such a venture. You entrust us to spend your dues dollars wisely. Producing a convention is no longer a wise use of your membership dues.
“The question then becomes, ‘How do we provide education and networking opportunities for our members?’ ‘How do we connect the essential services of the industry’s suppliers with our member campgrounds?’ We are looking for a select group of CalARVC members and suppliers to help us figure out a new delivery model for these services. Our members have always brought home valuable information and insights from the convention. They have always connected and built relationships with each other and vendors. In this day and age of the Internet, smart phones and social media, fewer and fewer people are willing to take time off of work and invest in off-site meetings….even when they know and admit it was always worth the time and investment in the past.”
Veteran RV park and campground owner/consultant John Imler is finally stepping away after nearly 40 years in the business.
According to a report by Woodall’s Campground Management, as of June 1 Imler will discontinue his web page, www.imlerconsulting.com, and the five books listed on the site will be out of publication.
Imler and his wife, Ruth, developed their first RV park, Campers Inn, in Dunnigan, Calif., starting in May 1974 and in 1975 attended as members the very first state convention of the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA).
While the Imlers added Dunnigan Mobile Home Park in 1978, John later served as president of CTPA (now CalARVC) and as a board member of the National Campground Owners Association (NCOA), subsequently renamed the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). He also was on the board of regents of the National School of RV Park & Campground Management.
Although the Imlers sold their RV and mobile home parks in 1985, they remained active in the industry. Imler authored five books dealing with the RV park industry, including “The RV Park Business” and “Designing RV Parks & Resorts for the 21st Century.” The texts were widely read and followed throughout the industry.
“Ruth and I have enjoyed our years of working in this great industry but those years have finally come to a complete close. This is a decision we have been putting off, since during those years we have made many friends and trust that we have been of help and service to some.
“We continue to wish you many joys as you continue in your service to the RV park industry.”
Since 2009, Imler has focused his attention on his spiritual side, writing a book titled “It’s Never Too Late” and writing a regular blog on the topic.
Campgrounds and RV parks in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills are finding it pays to be green, including Auburn Gold Country RV Resort in Auburn.
According to a press release, the 66-site park, which also has three rental cabins and a small tent section, just completed installation of $500,000 solar power system.
“It’s a 105 kilowatt system that covers about 60% of our electrical needs,” said park owner John Grant.
Grant received a federal grant for the project, which covered $150,000, or 30% of the cost. He financed the remaining $350,000 with a 6% loan from Placer County.
“We’re a big rig park and those big RVs draw lots of power,” Grant said. “But the savings from generating our own solar power will offset what we have to pay in loans, so we’ll break even.”
Grant added that he’ll receive additional tax and depreciation savings as a result of installing the solar power system, which includes 444 panels on a 1.5-acre section of his park.
The solar system will also offset a considerable amount of carbon emissions each year, including 212,000 pounds of carbon dioxide; 145 pounds of NOX, a leading cause of smog; 36 pounds of S02, a leading cause of acid rain; and 42 pounds of particulates.
“We’re able to achieve these carbon pollution offsets because the power we consume with the solar system doesn’t have to be generated elsewhere,” Grant said.
Auburn Gold Country RV Resort is not the only privately owned RV resort in the Sierra foothills to have solar power. Other facilities include:
• Angels Camp RV & Camping Resort in Calaveras County installed a solar energy system three years ago.
• Campland on the Bay in San Diego invested in water saving showerheads and recycle bins. The park also encourages its employees to bicycle across the park as much as possible.
• Cottonwood Cove Resort and Marina on Lake Mohave, which is owned and operated by Forever Resorts, plans to build the nation’s first ever LEED certified floating green building this year. The floating eco-friendly structure will house boat rental and servicing operations.
• Coyote Valley RV Resort in Morgan Hill has invested in native, drought tolerant plants.
• Far Horizons 49’er Village RV Resort in Plymouth opened a new swimming pool complex three years ago that includes energy efficient pumps. Additionally, the park invested about $25,000 to develop a new source for raw water for resort irrigation needs.
• Pinewood Cove at Trinity Center, a 100-site campground uses only environmentally friendly cleaning products as well as energy and water saving devices, such as fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads
• Pleasure Cove Marina at Lake Berryessa, also managed by Forever Resorts, uses fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads at the marina’s campground.
• Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville, a 119-site park, has invested in water and energy saving fixtures after requesting water and power audits from its local utilities.
The California RV Dealers Association (CalRVDA) testified this week against a bill that would have put a “sunset date” on the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board, which would have effectively abolished the board.
According to a press release, after lobbying legislators over the past two weeks and testimony by the California New Car Dealers Association, the state’s motorcycle dealers association and CalRVDA, the bill was denied passage by the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Policy Committee.
CalRVDA was the driving force behind placing the RV industry (dealers and manufacturers) into the state board’s jurisdiction. RV dealers wanted to have their disputes with manufacturers adjudicated at an in-state forum and by knowledgeable staff and law judges instead of hiring attorneys and pursuing their claims in various superior courts throughout California.
“CalRVDA’s mission is to represent, enhance, and protect RV dealerships and maintaining a visible presence in the Capitol is a significant part of enabling us to achieve that mission,” said CalRVDA Executive Director Skip Daum.
The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) will once again be partnering with other sectors of the tourism industry to create awareness of the enormous impact tourism has in California.
According to this week’s edition of CalARVC’s “Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates,” CalARVC members are being encouraged to gather on the afternoon of Feb. 22 beginning with lunch with CalARVC’s lobbyists. Next, members will join Visit California for a Policy Forum, providing legislative and policy updates on travel issues.
Then CalARVC members are encouraged to visit their legislators. This is their chance to showcase their business and industry. The day will conclude with a Legislative Reception and Premier of “Dreamland,” an inspirational new film chronicling a day in the life of innovative “True Californians.” This documentary will air on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and key international markets.
On other CalARVC news, the board is working on plans for the 2013 convention. Previously, the board decided to not hold a convention this year, opting to support ARVC’s annual Outdoor and Hospitality Conference slated for Nov. 28-30 in Las vegas.
Later this spring, CalARVC will hold its annual business meeting in conjunction with a CalARVC board meeting.
OutdoorAfro.com founder Rue Mapp, her three children and nephew took their first RV trip Aug. 12-14 at the Ponderosa RV Resort in Northern California.
What a trip for the 39-year-old community servant, who’s raising awareness of the beauty of the outdoors to the nation’s African-Americans via her website and outdoor activities promoted on it.
Promoting the outdoors to African-Americans has become her life goal, and she’s working hand-in-hand with the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) to make this happen. The August trip was the first of four she plans to showcase camping in California in each of the four seasons and to show that RVing can be a year-round experience.
“My kids have been camping since the womb but this is the first time we ever tried RV camping and stayed in an RV park,” she told Woodall’s Campground Management.
Enter American River Sales in Auburn, which donated a tear-drop trailer rental for the weekend. Mapp took her family gold panning, visited the local Gold Discovery Museum and even took her teenage son Seth river rafting. Throughout the weekend, she Tweeted, uploaded photos to Facebook and blogged about the family’s experiences. All told, her social media contacts exceed 7,000 each month and is growing.
Mapp found at Ponderosa RV Resort “an instant sense of community among fellow campers, a lot of people enjoying this balance between their creature comforts and exploring nature.”
In essence, this is precisely what she is trying to show to the nation’s black community, which underuses outdoor recreation sites like RV parks and campgrounds. She was not surprised that she and her family were the only black campers at Ponderosa all weekend, but she discovered a pleasant surprise during her weekend.
CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind., will provide the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) with a 2011 Slingshot RV travel trailer to be awarded as a grand prize during the California State Fair in a sweepstakes competition designed to promote camping and RVing.
CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe and CrossRoads RV President Mark Lucas announced the promotion recently during the association’s annual convention and tradeshow in Reno, Nev.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are to have a partnership with CrossRoads RV,” Sipe said. “They understand the importance of promoting RV and camping options in California. Our members and the camping public will benefit from this partnership for years to come.”
Lucas said he, too, is excited about the promotion. “The California State Fair is a great opportunity to showcase the family friendly activities available throughout the state and we’re thrilled to have our Slingshot as the grand prize,” he said “Just as camping is accessible to all types of families, this trailer, the lightest in the industry, can be towed by all types of vehicles. There is no need for a special heavy-duty truck because fuel-efficient minivans, small SUVs and crossovers are the perfect tow vehicle for this unit.”
The Slingshot travel trailer to be awarded at the California State Fair will be provided by Happy Daze RV’s in Sacramento. “We think this is a great opportunity. RVing is about spending time with family. It’s also a great way to see California,” said Ronnie Radigan, general sales manager for Happy Daze RV’s.
The CrossRoads Slingshot and other RVs will be on display along with other camping equipment July 24-27 at the California State Fair at Cal Expo in Sacramento.
Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts and travel destinations will also be featured at the fair, which will include a 2,500-square-foot display that shows people how they can camp in different parts of the state. “We’ll have hands on activities, such as geocaching, demonstrations on how to set up a tent and use a Coleman stove as well as classic outdoor games, such as sack races and water balloon tosses,” Sipe said.
Monthly drawings are already being held to determine the semifinalists who will compete for the Slingshot travel travel in the drawing . Other prizes, including free camping opportunities and camping equipment, will also be awarded to contest participants.
For a list of campgrounds and RV parks that are participating in the RVing Rewards! Scratcher Program as well as other rules and restrictions governing this promotion, please visit www.Camp-California.com.
The occupancy at private RV parks and campgrounds in California in 2009 was 57.8% or down 0.6% from 2008, according to a study by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).
The 2009 occupancy rate was down 2.7% from 2007 and down 4.9% from 2006, making 2009 the lowest occupancy for the past 10 years, CalARVC noted in its current Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates e-newsletter.
Occupancy was highest in 2005 at 63.8%, followed by 2001 at 63.5%. Statewide occupancy at 57.8% is 0.6% less than the average for the past 20 years. This slip in occupancy is widely attributed to continued high fuel prices and a slumped economy that resulted in many job losses and home foreclosures.
Occupancy decreased in eight regions, with San Francisco showing a 15.4% decline. Monthly regional averages vary in accuracy depending upon which CalARVC members respond in any month resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus two to five percentage points. The error of margin for the statewide averages is one to two percentage points.
Average statewide occupancy increased over last year in six months, and decreased six months resulting in an overall decrease of approximately a half percentage point.
Shane Ott, director of campground relations for Thor Industries Inc., has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for the ReV Up in Reno Western Region Convention and Trade Show April 19-21 in Reno, Nev. The event will be held in John Ascuaga’s Nugget Resort and Casino.
The second annual event is sponsored by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) and other western state campground associations.
Prior to joining Thor this past year, Ott was the president and COO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.
Ott’s wide breath of experience in both the campground and RV industries affords him a unique perspective on the past, present and future of RV Parks and campgrounds in the West.
He will address current trends in the RV industry and how these will drive business to – or away from – RV parks and campgrounds.
Park operators must not allow their recreational park trailers or ”park models” to be used as full-time residences. And they should also beware of the low-cost FEMA trailers, many of which have damage and mold problems in addition to failing to comply with established building codes.
Those were the two primary warnings issued Jan. 13 by Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), during CalARVC’s Education Day at Newport Dunes Waterfront RV Resort and Marina.
While Garpow had previously warned park operators not to allow their guests to use park trailers as full-time residences, he said the reminder is needed because the economic downturn has prompted some people who have lost their homes to relocate to campgrounds and RV parks — at least temporarily.
”The problem with it is that, in many cases, the local unit of government is aware of the hardship that is going on with regard to families and foreclosures and, as such, they may be inclined to ignore the improper use of a campground as a place of residence,” Garpow said.
Trouble is, when guests are allowed to establish a residence within a park, it can be very difficult to remove them. ”You’re setting yourself up to become a trailer camp if you allow people to live full-time at your park,” Garpow said.
Using RV or park model sites for full-time residents can also reduce the value of the park, while making it less appealing to transient RVers or destination campers looking for a true recreational vacation experience, Garpow said.
While long-term renters seeking a form of low-cost housing provide income stability, they don’t mix with transient travelers or participants in the RV lifestyle, Garpow said. Sometimes, he added, long-term renters can ”develop an attitude” toward visitors who are just passing through. This changes the very nature of the park and the true RV customers may seek another location.
”The only way I would even consider allowing full-time residency within a park would be if you worked with your city or county and had them pass an emergency housing ordinance that allowed you to use your park for this purpose,” Garpow said. ”But even then it should only be for a limited amount of time so that the local unit of government could also step in and help you move those people out after the housing emergency was over. I would also try to separate the two types of tenants, as they just don’t mix well.”