Jessica and Jim Vaglica are giddy with excitement this weekend after their recent purchase of a 21-foot recreational vehicle.
As reported by the Detroit News, the new, $20,000 2013 Palamino Puma Unleashed toy hauler RV provides lots of features designed to accommodate the Wyoming, Mich., couple’s extreme sports hobbies that include motorcycling and power golf carting — messy pursuits that their 43-year-old 24-footer could not quite accommodate.
“The whole back end of this RV opens up to a big ramp, so we can just ride everything straight out the back,” said 35-year-old Jessica Vaglica, a college student-accounts manager. Her 37-year-old husband is a warehouse manager. “Right where the toys go are two queen-size beds that lift hydraulically to the ceiling to make room for them. And a nice outside feature is a water nozzle so you can spray off your (hobby vehicles), an outdoor shower, and a 15-gallon fueling station.”
And as far as creature comforts are concerned, the new digs have it all over the used RV that the couple is selling. The Puma Unleashed sports a microwave, a freezer and a digital audio system with built-in speakers that can integrate everything from an iPod to Bluetooth.
No wonder recreational vehicle sales and RV camping are surging in Michigan despite occasional $4-a-gallon gas and intermittently wet weather that might have washed out vacation visions. The solid boom has helped create more business at many of the state’s RV campgrounds as well.
Sales of RVs in Michigan through May this year are up strongly over a pretty good 2012 at the state’s 90 dealerships. Michigan dealers sold 5,142 towable RVs, by far the most popular type, or about 2.3% more than a year ago, according to the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVC), which represents the dealers. They sold 383 typically more costly “motorhomes,” up 36.3% over a year earlier.
Nationally, according to the Michigan association, RV dealers sold about 128,000 towables through May, up 11.1% over a year ago, and about 16,000 motor homes, up by 30.4%.
“There’s been a lot of pent-up demand from people who have discretionary income who decided to make the investment in a motorhome,” said Bill Sheffer, director of the Michigan association, based in Okemos. “The economy, in their minds, is fairly stable, and they feel they can make that commitment.”
Dennis Anderson, marketing manager at General RV Center in Wixom, said that so far, “This is the best year in company history. And last year was actually very good as well.”
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For the third year in a row, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has declared July as “Michigan Camping & Recreation Vehicle Month.”
According to a press release, camping is a key contributor to the state’s over $17 billion tourism industry. The declaration supports the economic and recreational contributions that the camping industry provides to Michigan’s overall tourism, as well as promoting camping as a year-round inexpensive and family-friendly recreation option.
Michigan has more than 1,300 licensed, private recreation vehicle parks and state-run campgrounds, with more than 145,000 licensed campsites. This includes state parks, forests and recreation areas across the state. A study by Michigan State University shows that 10% of all pleasure travelers in Michigan are campers. Michigan also boasts over 315,000 licensed recreation vehicles, including motorhomes and travel trailers.
Michigan’s two nonprofit camping organizations, the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles & Campgrounds (MARVAC) and the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) of Michigan, equally promote and support private campgrounds and RV parks throughout the state.
All state lands are managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, while the national parks and lakeshores are managed by the National Park Service and/or the U.S. Forest Service. Campgrounds and RVing are promoted by Travel Michigan and their award-winning Pure Michigan campaign.
For more information visit www.MichiganCampingAndRVMonth.
The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) reported a very successful year legislatively, amending the Michigan Vehicle Code to prescribe a maximum length of 65 feet when a motorhome tows a trailer and 75 feet for a recreation vehicle double.
MARVAC also insured that the Pure Michigan campaign, from which its members benefit, continues to be funded, MARVAC reported in its current newsletter.
“Our successes are a direct result of our ability to be politically active in Lansing and your support has helped our industry gain visibility,” the association stated.
Those contributing to the MMH&RVCA Political Action Committee include :
• Loren Baidas, General RV, Wixom.
• Bob Barnes, Leisure Lake.
• Mark Barrett, Barrett & Associates.
• Gary Becker, Indigo Bluffs RV Resort.
• Mike Burnside, Camping World of Northern Michigan.
• Jon Caswell, Caswell RV.
• Timothy DeWitt, MMH & RVCA.
• Edgar Doss, Waters RV.
• Dave Haylett, Haylett North Country RV.
• Carl Laming, Totem Pole Park.
• Cindy MacDaniels, Leidy Lake Campground.
• Barry Murray, International RV World.
• Ronald Neff, American RV Sales.
• David Rochette, Westland Camping.
• Bob Rohn, Lake of Dreams.
• Joanne Schmid, River View Campground.
• William Sheffer, MMH & RVCA.
• Betty and Bill Workman, Vacation Trailer Park.
• Phil Yedinak, Beaver Trail Campground.
Lori Tews has been appointed executive director of the Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MichARVC).
”She’s got quite a bit of membership background,” MichARVC President Tim Wilcox, owner of Gateway Park Campground, Hillsdale, told Woodall’s Campground Management. ”She was the top of five candidates we interviewed from 80-some applicants.”
Tews, formerly with Morely Cos. Inc., and an executive assistant with the American Medical Association Foundation, was chosen during MichARVC’s Fall Convention & Campground Tour Oct. 22-23 at Holiday Inn West Bay in Traverse City. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’ degree in nonprofit adiminstration from Saginaw Valley State University.
She replaces Traci Fisher, who served as executive director for 18 months while MichARVC went through a transitional period.
”I just filled the gap after the previous executive director to give them time to decide which way they wanted to go,” Fisher said.
Seventy-five people from about 30 campgrounds attended the meeting which features tours of Traverse Bay RV Resort, Acme along with Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort Holiday Park Campground, both in Traverse Bay.
Keynote speaker was Dave Lorenz, public and industry relations manager with Travel Michigan who talked about the state’s tourism opportunities.
Wilcox was re-elected as was Vice President David Cordray of White River RV Park and Campground, Montague and Secretary Deb Nagel of Lincoln Pines Resort, Gowen. Joan Holz of Holiday Camping Resort in New Era was elected the new treasurer.
”Everybody had a great year — some better than others,” Wilcox said. ”For the most part, everybody’s doing well.”
For the second year in a row, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, along with several legislators, has declared a “Michigan Camping & Recreation Vehicle Month,” to be held in July following last year’s success in the month of August.
According to a press release, camping is a key contributor to the state’s $17 billion tourism industry. The declaration supports the economic and recreational contributions that the camping industry provides to Michigan’s overall tourism.
Michigan has more than 950 licensed, private recreation vehicle parks and campgrounds, with more than 111,000 licensed campsites. The state has more than 160 county or government operated campgrounds with over 14,700 site, from rustic to full-service. Michigan also boasts over 307,000 licensed recreation vehicles, including motorhomes and travel trailers. In Michigan, first quarter 2012 RV sales are up 18% from the first quarter of 2011, and sales are projected to increase throughout 2012.
Camping and RVing encourages visitors and locals alike to partake in activities such as boating, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, paddling, pedaling, golfing, geocaching, nature watching, photography and other outdoor activities, which also highlight Michigan’s great outdoor parks and recreation areas.
Michigan is home to 98 state parks and recreation areas as well as 133 state forest campgrounds under the auspices of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and seven forests/parks/lakeshores in Michigan under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service. Collectively, Michigan offers 15,000 sites on state and federal lands designated for camping.
Michigan’s two non-profit camping organizations, the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles & Campgrounds (MARVAC) and the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds of Michigan (ARVC Michigan), equally promote and support private campgrounds and RV parks throughout the state.
All state lands are managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, while the national parks and lakeshores are managed by the National Park Service and/or the U.S. Forest Service. All campgrounds, including the companion recreational activities, are among the tourism destinations promoted by Travel Michigan and its award-winning “Pure Michigan” campaign.
A slowing economy, predictions of a temperate summer and long-term gas price concerns are prodding consumers in Michigan to look toward their tents, pop-ups and recreational vehicles to get away from it all for a lower-cost family vacation.
As reported by the Detroit News, advance reservations at state campgrounds are up 23% over last year, the second straight year of increases after a long decline, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. State parks are on track this year to break 1 million camp nights, a level the state has not experienced since 2005, state officials said.
Campgrounds and retailers specializing in camping gear say they had a booming Memorial Day, the traditional start of the camping season. That bodes well for the summer months, travel forecasters said.
“In surveys, RV owners say gas prices would have to hit $8 (a gallon) before they would consider skipping their outdoor vacations,” said William G. Sheffer, director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC), a trade association in Okemos.
Singles, families and baby boomers are targets for an industry hungry for a comeback. Stores, trade groups and others are investing in emotional marketing campaigns, such as REI’s sponsorship in the “Great American Backyard Campout” effort. Its website promoting today’s event extols, “Remember that magic moment when you put up that tent all by yourself?”
Stores including Summit Sports, a small chain with two stores in Metro Detroit that began selling camping gear this year, also are promoting high-tech, lightweight gadgets options. One is Coleman’s LED Quad Lantern, a bright single unit that separates into four separate lanterns for those late-night bathroom treks.
There is an emphasis on easy-to-use gear and in-store instruction, said Fidel Carino, manager at Summit Sports in Brighton.
“We’re not going to send you out there without knowing how to use the equipment,” Carino said.
Public and private campgrounds also are adding amenities such as Wi-Fi, knowing the difficulty some people have going offline.
Some are offering comfortable rental RVs, cushy and untraditional camping entertainment options. Besides singing songs and roasting marshmallows, for example, campers can check out the new zip line, outdoor bowling and sand lagoon at the Flint/Holly KOA campground.
These amenities are needed to hook first-time campers and convince former campers to try it again, said Mike Ebach, a Gander Mountain store manager in Traverse City and a partner in the state’s First Time Camper program, which loans camping gear for $20.
“So many people switched from a $150-per-night hotel room to a $25-per-night campground,” Ebach said. “Now those people who camped last year and had such a great time are now trying to recruit their friends.”
To read the entire story in the Detroit News, click here.
Editor’s Note: The following appeared in the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVC) newsletter commemorating the organization’s 70th year of operation.
It was a short 70 years ago that a group of Michigan Industry Pioneers got together and established an industry trade association.
The Michigan Trailer Coach Dealer Association Inc. was formed on Sept. 19, 1941. It was the first state or regional association on record with continuous industry activity on a state and national level.
F.W. McKenny was the first director and was instrumental in the passage of the Michigan Trailer Coach Park Act in 1939. This is believed to be the first statewide legislation in the country regulating trailer parks. It was designed to replace all municipal laws and ordinances affecting parks. Other states used this as a model for similar legislation.
McKenny was active in representing the Trailercoach Dealers National Association during World War II. He moved his office to Washington D.C. and in doing so took the Michigan association office with him. In 1946, the association office was returned to Michigan and located in East Lansing. The name was the changed to the Michigan Trailer Coach Association.
In 1948, the members concerned with the operation of trailer parks formed a separate group, the Michigan Trailer Park Operators Association Inc. This organization continued to represent the interests of the park owners until it again combined with the Michigan Mobile Home Association 18 years later.
By 1956 the Michigan Trailer Coach Association moved its office to Detroit and Charles Snyder became executive director. He was followed by Haven La Bohn, Daniel Dowsett, Donald Rokos, Robert Pelkey and its current executive director, Timothy J. DeWitt.
With the birth of the RV Industry and a need for campground representation the association’s name was again changed to the Michigan Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Institute in 1969. The association purchased a headquarters building in the late 1960’s in Livonia.
Then in 1994 after another name change to Michigan Manufactured Housing, Recreational Vehicle & Campground Association, the headquarters was moved to the Capital City area. In 1996, ground was broken in Okemos, Mich., where the association office is currently located.
MARVAC would like to thank the hundreds upon hundreds of members who have served on all the boards and various committees throughout the last 70 years and the thousands of members who have supported the association through dues, contributions and donations that has allowed the Michigan Association to continue to be visible to protect and promote the industry and our members’ businesses.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking campers to “go green” this season by participating in the department’s Camp Green pilot program.
The Evening News, Sault Ste. Marie, reported that the Camp Green program encourages park guests to follow environmentally friendly and energy-efficient practices while visiting Michigan state parks and recreation areas. There are 10 locations participating in this pilot program: Aloha, Cheboygan, Clear Lake, Onaway, Port Crescent, Seven Lakes, Tawas Point, Traverse City and Wilson state parks, plus Bay City State Recreation Area.
Campers will be given information on how to camp green and will be asked to pledge to become a steward of Michigan’s environment. In order to successfully “camp green,” guests will be asked to:
• Turn off the air conditioning when it is not absolutely necessary, and not leave doors and windows open when the air conditioner is operating;
• Make sure lights are turned off during the daytime and not left on after a camper retires for the evening;
• Ensure water is used sparingly, by taking shorter showers and not leaving faucets running while brushing teeth or shaving;
• Properly dispose of gray water and sewage, and not dump it on the ground;
• Not burn trash in the fire circle; and
• Recycle at the park.
DNR Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson said that electricity is the largest utility expense for Michigan state parks and recreation areas, and it’s a key focus of the Camp Green effort.
“Over the years, many campers have traded in their tents for larger, recreational vehicles usually outfitted with air conditioners,” Olson said. “Air conditioning is the largest consumer of electricity in the parks.”
Olson explained that Camp Green supporters will be given a “reality check” list to assess how green they camped. Anyone who fills out the registration pledging to camp green, and sends in the checklist to one of the 10 participating parks, will receive a window cling for his or her vehicle.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is taking another look at its plan to close 23 state forest campgrounds, according to an Associated Press report.
The campgrounds are in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula and aren’t used much. The DNR proposed closing them to save money at a time of budget cutbacks.
Director Rodney Stokes had planned to sign a closure order Thursday.
But spokeswoman Mary Dettloff says it was delayed so the department can talk with local governments interested in running some of the campgrounds.
Officials also will consider having state park officials take over maintenance of certain forest campgrounds, which are more primitive than those at the parks. Dettloff says the parks division has already agreed to operate the Lime Island campground.
But she says some forest campgrounds probably will close.
The Michigan Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will keep 23 state forest campgrounds slated for closure open through the end of the fiscal year, according to a report from WWTV, Cadillac.
Legislators who fought for the bill say that the tourism industry of Michigan needs the campgrounds open.