Within two to three weeks, Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS) plans to begin marketing Nature-ZYME, a highly effective environmentally responsible RV and marine holding tank product that eliminates odors and liquefies waste without the use of formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals.
Nature-ZYME is ELS’s private label holding tank product, which is manufactured by BiOWiSH Technologies, a Chicago-based company that has established itself as a world leader in creation of fast-acting, environmentally friendly wastewater treatment products, according to a news release.
“RVers and campground operators across the country have been quietly testing this product for months in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions and have been amazed at its performance,” said David Kozy, vice president and director of operations of RSI RV, Home & Marine Solutions, the ELS subsidiary that is marketing the Nature-ZYME holding tank treatment product. “We really think we have identified a solution to one of the most challenging environmental problems in the RV and marine industries.”
Kozy said the fundamental problem with most holding tank products is that they use microbial inhibitors, such as formaldehyde and other chemicals, which prevent natural biological processes from breaking down human waste as they would normally do. As a result, chemical-based holding tank products can cause septic systems to overflow, potentially contaminating groundwater supplies.
He said ELS distributed 4,500 samples of Nature-ZYME last week to RVers attending The Rally in Louisville, Ky., and was subsequently inundated with requests from consumers who wanted to purchase the product.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand for environmentally friendly holding tank products,” Kozy said. “People increasingly recognize that chemically based holding tank products can pose various risks to themselves and to the environment.”’
“The new line of products we have developed in conjunction with Equity LifeStyle Properties could revolutionize the RV market and marina industry by reducing the environmental impact of wastewater discharges by these vehicles,” said BiOWiSH Technologies President Rod Vautier.
Nature-ZYME has been tested by more than 100 RVing consumers, including Thousand Trails members, since last fall in addition to being tested at 14 different ELS RV parks and resorts. A second test is underway involving RVers affiliated with the Good Sam Club. ELS also hired an outside firm to test the effectiveness of the BiOWiSH product against competing biodegradable and chemical-based holding tank products and was pleased with the results.
“We’ve been trying to gather as much feedback as possible, both from RV park operators and from consumers, and all of it comes back positive,” Kozy said.
While ELS does not plan to launch a full-scale consumer marketing campaign until this fall, the product will be available for purchase online by late August. For more information on Nature-ZYME, please visit www.Nature-Zyme.com.
Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties is a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns and operates RV resorts and manufactured home communities throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the Thousand Trails campground membership club. For more information on ELS and its subsidiaries, visit www.equitylifestyle.com and www.thousandtrails.com.
Formerly headquartered in Sydney, Australia, BiOWish Technologies recently relocated its corporate offices to Chicago in an effort to be closer to its key markets in North America and Europe. BiOWiSH Technologies owns exclusive and global intellectual property rights to the development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution of BiOWiSH products that serve the needs of consumer, wastewater treatment, agriculture, aquaculture, agronomy, solid waste management, soil and water remediation and industrial cleaning industries. The company maintains international offices in Sydney and Bangkok, Thailand. Additional information about the company is available at www.biowishtechnologies.com.
The Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ organization with nearly 1 million member families, announced today (July 12) that the Good Sam Club RV Owners’ Advisory Council (RVOAC) has just deployed its annual survey.
This year, the council hopes to gather empirical data concerning RV tire safety. The survey was sent to approximately 250,000 randomly selected Good Sam Club members and will seek to determine the frequency of RV tire failure and RV owners’ knowledge about RV tire selection, care and maintenance, according to a news release.
“We’ve had quite a number of members write to us to express their concern about RV tires. The failure rate of RV tires is simply not known at this point, because there is no data available to confirm or refute those concerns,” said Tom Gonser, RVOAC chairman. “Our survey will involve an extremely large sample size, and should begin to provide answers as to whether a problem with RV tires exists; and, if so, what types, sizes, and brands of RV types might be most involved. Separately, we’ll be collecting significant information pertaining to RV owners’ understanding of issues pertaining to tire safety, and to the need for owner diligence in tire care and maintenance.”
In preparing the survey, the Good Sam Club Council consulted with other interested parties such as the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF). The survey results will be published in the Good Sam Club’s Highways Magazine. According to Sue Bray, director of member benefits for the Good Sam Club, information collected concerning the state of RV owner knowledge about tire safety issues can also be used by the club to help design future education programs for its members.
To learn more about the Good Sam Club, log on to www.goodsamclub.com or call (800) 234-3450.
Click here to watch a video about the following story.
The largest RV club in the country spent this past week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Good Sam Club is a group of nearly million RV’ers from all across the country.
Michigan’s summer Good Sam Rally was held at the Escanaba fair grounds bringing more than 500 people to the area, according to WPBN-WTOM-TV, Traverse City, Mich.
“The whole purpose behind the Good Sam organization is to make it so that we promote family camping,” Good Sam Club International Ambassador Bill Brooks. “We want the people to have a good time and a good experience whether traveling on the road or whether at the camp grounds.”
More than 260 RVs were counted at the event with the majority of them coming outside of the Upper Peninsula. which is proving to be a big boost to the local economy.
People from 10 different states as far away as Texas and Florida have come for the event. Linda Michalski is a Good Sam Club member from Ishpeming. She said the rally gives a real boost to the local economy.
“Everybody’s getting exposure,” Michalski said. “If you go to the National Ski Hall of Fame, some people are going to Pictured Rocks; somebody’s already used Marquette General Hospital for illness. So it’s a big impact on the area.”
The Good Sam Club also encourages its members to spend locally and travel … a big advantage for host cities like Escanaba.
“Well everybody loves the U.P. and with Good Sam you have a 10% discount on a lot of parks when you’re traveling,” Good Sam Michigan Director Joseph Halhober. “A lot of them are going to stay in the U.P. for a week and travel around so we stick around the area too and help out.”
The rally wrapped up on Sunday.
This week’s ARVC Business Forum, held on the campus of Keystone RV Co. in Goshen, Ind., featured a typically lively give-and-take among the leadership of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and some of the nation’s key campground vendors.
Forum members met in conjunction with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Committee Week and Annual Meeting functions held not far away in downtown South Bend. The week’s agenda also included an industry party in recognition of what RVIA has designated in 2010 as the RV industry’s centennial.
The ARVC Business Forum brings together members of the ARVC Executive Committee and key players in the RV parks and campground business to discuss topical issues.
Shane Ott, director of campground relations for Thor Industries Inc., Keystone’s parent company, who helped orchestrate the meeting at Keystone, said the forum meeting at an RV company, a first for the forum, will help narrow “the huge gap” between the campground and RV industries. “There is no reason we shouldn’t do this more often,” he said.
A few forum highlights:
Mark Anderson, former ARVC chairman and owner of Camp Chautauqua Camping Resort, Chautauqua, N.Y., reported that his park and many others in the East “had almost a perfect Memorial Day weekend,” providing “a great start” to the season. The summer’s outlook for the Northeast is good as travel is up, he added. He noted that while the state of New York is “broke,” the governor found funds to reopen the state parks, which Anderson considers “an important baseline to private campgrounds.”
Vic Nolting, vice chairman of Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, Milford, Ohio, began by summarizing, “In general, things look oh so much better than last year.” He then deferred to LSI’s COO, Rob Schutter Jr., who went into greater detail. Schutter echoed Anderson’s holiday observation. He said business in the Northeast is “leveling out” after “a disaster last year,” due to weather.
Schutter, noting that Yogi operators are seeing an upturn in campers’ ancillary spending after a 2%-3% downturn in such spending last year, reported that the rental market at Jellystone Parks is “through the roof,” thanks in part to its non-dependence on good weather and the growing number of visits of campers new to the Jellystone system.
LSI’s rental business was up 8% in 2009 and he expects another rise this year. The rental business, which puts campers into lodges and cabins, is bringing a lot of non-traditional or first-time campers, added Nolting. They explained that many Jellystone Parks maintain good working relationships with area chambers of commerce and hotels, which also spurs business. Cabin rental rates were $145 a night in 2009 and have been raised by $10 a night for the 2010 season, said Schutter, adding that LSI opened its first company-owned park this year in Bloomington, Ind.
Cindy Halley, publisher of the Trailer Life RV Parks and Campgrounds Directory and vice president of Good Sam Club marketing, Ventura, Calif., reported that TL’s rep teams are well underway in their collection of data and advertising sales for the 2011 directory. Team members “are very upbeat and expect a better year overall,” she said. On the club side, membership growth is exceeding forecasts and currently totals about 950,000. Good Sam Club members average 62 years of age and are typically retired, empty nesters. However, she added, the club is always trying to recruit younger members.
Eric Stumberg, president and co-founder of Wi-Fi provider TengoInternet, Austin, Texas, reported that TengoInternet’s acquisition of Nomad ISP is complete with Nomad’s clients integrated into Tengo’s in May, bringing its market penetration to some 800 parks and between 67,000 and 100,000 guests a month, depending upon the season.
Wi-Fi remains a key criteria in RVers’ decision on where to camp, he noted. He sees mobile point of sale terminals, such as an ice cream cart that accepts credit card swipes, becoming the next popular phase in parks and campgrounds. He is targeting 25% growth for 2010.
David L. Berg, ARVC chairman and owner of the Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, said business appears to be “back to where we used to be.” He had sold out his 140 sites for the July 4 holiday by Memorial Day and his tent and popup trailer sites sold out first for the first time ever.
Berg, at the same time, said he remains “boggled” by the growth and popularity of the cabin business. He charges $120 a night for a cabin, even though “the motel down the street charges $29.” He can explain the willingness to pay more because customers “want it all today, the safety, the experience…” He also is getting into the RV rental market, charging about $1,000 a week to rent a unit on-site.
Al Johnson, president of Recreational Adventures Co., an 11-park chain based in Hill City, S.D., reported “an exceptional Memorial Day” and stated that nine of his 11 KOA-affilitated properties are ahead of plan so far this year. He has begun to replace aged cabins with new park models. He is putting on hold an overhaul of RV sites until he can better determine size requirements for the next RV generation. He, too, saw more guests with tents and folding camping trailers last year, but said it’s too early to tell whether that trend will continue this year.
David Gorin, who wore multiple hats to the forum as a campground consultant, ARVC lobbyist, park owner and state association director, reported that his Holiday Cove RV Resort in Bradenton, Fla., experienced a 25% increase in business last year, with his rental business up 20%-25% annually.
Gorin says he sold approximately half of the lots for sale in his park in the last 19 months. As director of the Virginia Campground Association, he said that state’s parks are looking for a good year, but that they’re concerned about whether the Gulf oil spill will make its way eventually up the East Coast. Meanwhile, Gorin says his Best Parks in America network has grown from 22 to 63 parks in the past year, has recently finished a long-term strategy session and will be publishing its first print directory. Finally, Gorin announced that he will be building a new 250-site RV park in Palmetto, Fla.
Ann Emerson, ARVC Business Forum chairwoman and vice president of Woodall Publications, publisher of the Woodall’s North American Campground Directory, Ventura, Calif., said sales consultants are reporting overall that most parks are doing well. In general, parks near metro areas are still faring better than those in remote areas. And there’s a serious concern among tourism-related business operators — parks among them — in many Southern and Southeastern locales regarding the long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill, prompting some owners to defer decisions on marketing expenses.
Emerson began a discussion on the explosion of social media in the campground business. At her parent company, Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of RV Business and Woodall’s Campground Management, almost all the websites have a Facebook page and each publication has at least one staff member assigned to increase its social media presence and AGI is developing a SmartPhone “app” for both of its campground directories. This discussion elicited comments on mobile marketing, which fueled a wider discussion on the explosion of mobile phone use in society. Some 90% of all U.S. homes have cell phones, and a significant percentage of Woodall customers have SmartPhones, she said. Stumberg noted that one study showed that almost as many people today access the Internet via their SmartPhones as from personal computers.
Bruce Hoster, president of Coast to Coast Resorts, the membership camping wing of AGI, said, “We think membership camping is due for a renaissance.” He cited a number of ways Coast to Coast is attracting new parks and members to the concept. As an aside, he observed that membership campgrounds are finding new revenue streams by developing storage facilities for their members’ RVs while they are not camping. For example, one membership park developed a 7-acre storage facility and realizes an estimated $1 million in revenue in annual storage fees. He reported that Camp Club USA, AGI’s discount camping club, “has come back strong after seeing a slight dip during the recession” with high renewal rates and is up to nearly 50,000 members. Coast to Coast, which has taken membership camping under its wing, sponsored a membership camping conference in February in Las Vegas and will sponsor another in February in New Orleans. He is working to make inroads with developers of hotel and condo complexes to consider integrating campgrounds into their projects, he said.
Pat Hittmeier, president of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Billings, Mont., said camping was “soft” over the winter, hindered by cold weather in its Southern campgrounds. But it’s taken off since May and was up 7% through Memorial Day. KOA is projecting an 8% increase through Labor Day, said Hittmeier, adding that use of the Internet to make reservations is up 12% over last year, a reflection of more business in general and the migration of campers to the Internet.
KOA has 4,000 units in its lodging pool and that business is strong, he said. Lodges make up 13% of the total KOA sites, but the company is aiming to raise that figure to 20% at 50% of its campgrounds. KOA also is looking to increase its first-time visits, which now make up 15% to 19% of its total guests.
ARVC loyalist Ian Steyn, owner of Jellystone Castle Rock Campground, Castle Rock, Colo., noted that his business is up 38% year-over-year, and 2009 was a good year for his business. He discussed an integrated approach to promoting the outdoors with other hospitality businesses in his community seeking to make it the epicenter for outdoor recreation in his state.
Larry Weaver, park model sales manager for CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind., briefly outlined the preferred park model program his parent company, Thor Industries Inc., has established with ARVC. Weaver stressed that campground owners should make sure they buy “ruggedized” park models for their rental units and refrain from features such as carpeting that will not hold up well under the rigors of long-term use.
The Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ organization with nearly 1 million member families, today (June 2) announced the recipients of its 2010 Welcome Mat Awards, aimed at recognizing RV-friendly businesses for their customer service and commitment to the recreation vehicle lifestyle.
Good Sam Club members chose businesses they see providing RVers with superior customer service and meeting their specific needs. The awards reflect the diverse interests of RV owners, including their favorite sandwich shop, ice cream parlor, fuel and gas station, RV tow vehicle, golf course and favorite sit-down restaurant. Members voted for 23 categories through online ballots submitted on the GoodSamClub.com website.
The awards recognize Cracker Barrel, a casual family restaurant with locations throughout the U.S., as winner of the sit-down restaurant category once again. The restaurant has won every year since the award’s inception eight years ago.
“The Welcome Mat Awards distinguish the quality, value and service of roadside heroes – businesses that understand the needs of RVers and consistently take the extra steps for our Good Sam Club members,” said Sue Bray, director of member benefits of the Good Sam Club. “We congratulate all the award recipients and thank them for constantly going the extra mile and offering exceptional service for RV-friendly places.”
The following is a full list of this year’s honorees:
- Fuel/Gas Station: Flying J
- Propane Outlet: Flying J
- Outlet Mall: Tanger
- Casino: Hard Rock
- Fast Food Restaurant: Wendy’s
- Ice Cream Parlor: Dairy Queen
- Sandwich Shop: Subway
- Sit-Down Restaurant: Cracker Barrel
- Shopping Center: Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn.
- Dinghy Vehicle: Saturn
- Tourist Attractions/Amusement Parks/Museums: Disney World, Orlando, Fla.
- Golf Course: Pebble Beach, Carmel, Calif.
- NASCAR Event: Daytona 500
- RV Show: Tampa RV Supershow
- State/Province to Fish: Florida
- Good Sam Park: America’s Best Campground, Branson, Mo.
- Motor Oil: Shell Rotella
- Pet Supply Store: PetSmart
- Craft Store: Michaels
- RV Accessory Store: Camping World
- State to Visit: Florida
- Province to Visit: British Columbia
- Tow Vehicle: Ford
All Welcome Mat winners will be honored in the June issue of Highways magazine and at a ceremonial awards dinner taking place July 23 at “The Rally 2010″ in Louisville, Ky.
To learn more about the Good Sam Club, log on to www.goodsamclub.com or call (800) 234-3450.
Affinity Guest Services (AGS), the industry leader in providing guest services guides to campgrounds and RV parks and resorts, is partnering with three of the most powerful camping brands in the business – the Good Sam Club, Woodall Publications and Trailer Life RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory – to expand its lineup of Internet benefits for customers.
The new partnership will allow campgrounds and RV parks and resorts to display custom AGS site maps as part of the park’s online listing on each of the three major brands’ websites – www.goodsamclub.com, www.woodalls.com and www.trailerlifedirectory.com, according to a news release. In addition, all three websites will showcase area businesses included in AGS guest services guides. This added benefit is available exclusively to AGS Guide customers, offering them an opportunity to reach millions of potential guests, an advantage that only AGS can offer.
“These three websites draw 4.9 million visitors every year,” explained Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher for Affinity Guest Services. “And these visitors are active and affluent RVers who come to our websites looking for places to stay in their RVs, and for things to see and do while in a community. It’s a perfect fit to include AGS site maps for our RV parks and campgrounds, as well as information on our guide advertisers, as a valuable benefit for our customers at no additional cost.”
RV park and campground owners have depended on AGS for 24 years to create custom guest services guides designed to showcase the unique features of their business, as well as the surrounding area, keeping guests for longer stays and bringing them back year after year.
“AGS continues to provide benefits to our customers that bring real value to their businesses. Our ability to package our printed products with the Internet is crucial in today’s environment,” continued Emerson.
In addition to guest services guides, AGS offers a complete range of products and services to the campground, RV park and camping resort industry, including Internet services and promotional products. AGS is a part of Affinity Media, a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events.
For more information, contact Kathleen Ferguson at (800) 245-9666 ext. 266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over 200 recreational vehicles will descend upon Lebanon, Tenn., when the Good Sams of Tennessee hold their annual Spring Samboree at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center May 14-16, according to hobnobwilson.com.
This year’s Samboree theme is “Salute to the Military.” All past and present military will be recognized.
A Samboree is a get-together of RVers from across Tennessee and other states. The attendees get together for fun, fellowship, games, entertainment and much more. RV owners and prospective RVers are invited to attend the festivities.
To learn more about the Tennessee Good Sams and the 2010 Spring Samboree, visit their website at www.tngoodsam.com or contact Ron Masterson at (423) 240-4391 or Sheri Spradley at (615) 290-2052.
Hard times may be with us still, but the romance of the recreational vehicle is still strong and may be strengthening, according to the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer.
That, at least, is the conclusion to draw from the RV Camping Show at the State Fairgrounds this past weekend in Raleigh.
“We’re paying the bills and even making a little money,” said dealer Paul Hood, whose company sold about 25 campers and recreational vehicles during the three-day show.
A dense Sunday crowd wandered, looked and ooh’d and aah’d at one home on wheels after another.
“Wow, this is nice,” said John Patty of Cary, settling into a swivel chair inside a 400-square-foot Holiday Rambler Imperial. “You could have a party in here.”
More modest models were on view, as well: pop-up campers and cozy house trailers to tow behind a pickup, with prices from less than $9,000 on up. The show also featured dealers in camp sites, refinishing services, bedding, hot tubs, campfire food, grills, travelog videos and RV insurance.
Recession hit the RV industry hard, said Dave and Jan Kenyon, staffing a booth for the Good Sam Club, an association for RV owners. According to the RecreationVehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the industry has laid off 53% of its work force since June 2007, but University of Michigan analyst Richard Curtin projects a 30% increase in units shipped to dealers this year, about 216,000 compared with 166,000 in 2009.
Dealer restocking is one reason for optimism, and it’s easier to get financing for an RV than it was a year ago, Jan Kenyon said.
Plus, dealers are dealing. The Imperial’s regular retail price of $420,102 had been marked down to $336,541. A Cherokee Wolf Pack trailer was marked down from $27,535 to $19,922, complete with kitchenette and queen-size bed.
“I don’t know how much it is, but I like it,” said Brad Seavey of Vass, N.C., when he saw the Wolf Pack.
Danny and Glenda Honeycutt of Angier, N.C., with daughters Bayley and Brooke, said they are about a year away from moving up to a motorhome from the fifth-wheel trailer camper they’ve had for 10 years.
“Oooh! This is nice!” said Brooke, climbing into a $251,000 Holiday Rambler Ambassador.
“You can travel in here,” Glenda said as she looked around the interior; riding inside the fifth-wheeler is against the law, she explained. Compared with car travel, Danny said, having space to spread out is “so much easier than to pack everything up.”
Dealer Dave Hansing said people who are enthusiastic about the RV lifestyle are still enthused, despite the economy.
“The worst thing about an RV is not having enough time to use it,” he said.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) and the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest recreational vehicle owners’ organization, announce that Executive Director Sue Bray is leaving to form her own consulting business, Sue Bray Consulting, (www.suebray.com). Bray’s new business will focus on and utilize her expertise in marketing, managing and operating membership clubs and events.
Affinity CEO and President Mike Schneider made the announcement stating, “Sue has dedicated her 33-year career to enhancing our members’ experience through excellent membership benefits development and service. Much of Good Sam’s phenomenal growth over the years can be attributed to Sue. We wish her the very best of luck in her future endeavors, and I’m proud to announce that the Good Sam Club will be one of her first clients. She now has the opportunity to expand her outreach, public relations and development functions for the club as well as providing her expertise to other organizations. We are fortunate Sue will remain available to the members for the foreseeable future.”
Bray joined the Good Sam Club, a division of AGI, in 1976 as chapter activities director. In 1979 she was named executive director of the club, and became an Affinity vice president in 1980. During her tenure with the Good Sam Club, the organization grew from less than 200,000 members to nearly 1 million families today.
Bray spent most of her career with the Good Sam Club developing partnerships and benefits for members, including the popular trip routing service, an RV financing program, a member credit card, and was deeply involved in the design of the club’s popular emergency road service. She marketed and managed club events, including Affinity’s annual event, The Rally, which attracts upward of 8,000 guests each year and provided editorial direction for Highways, the club’s monthly magazine.
Bray managed the Good Sam Club’s participation in several major charity initiatives, including the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Dogs for the Deaf and Hole in the Wall Camps. She also managed its legislative and lobbying efforts, which she’ll continue to do on behalf of the club and its members.
In 2009, Bray was inducted into the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.— one of the youngest members and only the ninth woman selected for the RV industry’s most prestigious honor.
Also included among Bray’s initial clients is the Venice Beach House (www.venicebeachhouse.com), an upscale inn located beachside in Venice Beach, Calif., and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Editor’s Note: The following column by Sue Bray, executive director of the Good Sam Club, discusses the RV centennial, which will be celebrated this year. Her column appears in the February issue of Highways magazine. Affinity Group Inc. is the parent company of the Good Sam Club and www.RVBUSINESS.com.
It was a much simpler world 100 years ago. But with so many technological advances just around the corner, 1910 must have been an exciting time to be alive. Like today’s world, in which the latest computer technologies open up new possibilities, the world of 1910 was opening up to motorized travel. Innovative horseless vehicles were embarking on new highways and byways across the continent.
The lure of the open road had enticed tourists prior to 1910. People traveled to camping spots by horse and wagon, but those trips were restricted by time and distance. A few wealthy excursionists had tent trailers custom-built so they could enjoy the outdoors in relative comfort. But in 1910, the adventure of travel on North America’s developing roads began to change as three manufacturers, led by Pierce Arrow, started building motorized campers. In 1914 towable tent trailers were introduced, and in 1917 the first fifth-wheel appeared on the horizon.
Fortunately, a handful of historians have preserved this past. David Woodworth, for one, has chronicled RV history for decades. In 1986, David arrived at the headquarters of the Good Sam Club driving a Model A and towing a Ziegelmeyer tent trailer. We began working together, and for years David toured the country on behalf of Good Sam, meeting with club chapters and other groups and displaying his ever-growing collection of vintage vehicles. He’s taken his amazing assortment of RVs and RV gear on media tours representing the RV industry. Today, much of his collection is on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Ind.
David has a wealth of information on RVing’s early days. He even has a collection of collapsible coat hangers! He tells how auto pioneers Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, both avid campers, made plans for RV manufacturing while on a train ride in 1915.
David’s also researched the evolution of campgrounds. In the 1800s, he relates, many towns built wagon yards where visitors could release their horses and store their wagons when they were passing through. By 1914, the now-obsolete wagon yards were converted into free municipal campgrounds. “After World War I,” says David, “cities started charging 25 cents a night to camp in their campgrounds, basically in an effort to weed out the undesirables.”
In 2010, the RV industry will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Events recognizing the milestone will be held at the Elkhart museum and various RV dealerships, shows and campgrounds around the country.
The Good Sam Club is sponsoring a special RV History Caraventure en route to the Louisville Rally, which runs July 22 through 25. Up to 100 RVs, both old and new, will meet at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, travel to Dearborn, Mich., to visit the Ford Museum, then drive on to the 2010 Rally in Louisville. Seminars held along the way will offer insights into today’s RVing experience and RV travel’s fascinating past. (Caraventure contact information is available at (800) 829-5140.)
At the Rally, we’ll have a special area for vintage RVs to park and display life as it was in the early days of RV travel.
For David Woodworth, RVing is here to stay: “It’s gone through World War I, the Depression, World War II, high gas prices and high interest rates and it’s still such a popular activity.”
We RVers know it’ll keep on going and we look forward to the next 100 years.