ARVC Recognizes Top Campground Performers

November 13, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recognized the achievements of top private park operators, state associations and industry volunteers last week during its annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo in Knoxville, Tenn.

According to a press release, Park of the Year awards were given to RV parks and resorts based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service.

Winners included:

• Small Park of the Year: Big Meadow Family Campground, Townsend, Tenn.

• Medium Park of the Year: Shelby/Mansfield KOA, Shelby, Ohio.

• Large Park of the Year: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

• Mega Park of the Year: Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota, Fla.

Parks that made exemplary efforts to become environmentally friendly received ARVC’s Plan-It-Green award. The winners included:

• Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis, Mo., which received the award in the small / medium size park category.

• Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, Calif.

Marketing awards were presented to state campground associations that produced the best statewide campground directories. Marketing award recipients included:

• Small State Association category: Maryland Association of Campgrounds.

• Medium State Association category: Ohio Campground Owners Association.

• Large State Association category: California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Top-performing state campground association executives were also recognized, including:

• State Executive Director of the Year: Beverly Gruber from the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association.

• State President of the Year: Karl Littman of the Virginia Campground Association.

David L. Berg of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, received the Stan Martin Memorial Award, which recognizes RV park and resort operators who serve as role models for their peers in the industry through their exceptional volunteerism. Berg also received the Chairman’s Award, which recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty to further the outdoor hospitality industry.

David Tetrault of the Northeast Campground Association received the Pioneer Award, which recognizes campground industry pioneers.

The Supplier of the Year award was given to Wade Elliott of Kingston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group, a leading provider of electrical pedestals, meters, hand driers and other electrical supplies for campgrounds and RV parks.

During the awards ceremony, ARVC also announced the establishment of the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program, which was established in honor of Dick Hartford, the founder of Evergreen USA, who passed away in early October at the age of 68.

Hartford formed Evergreen in the 1980s, when campgrounds found it very difficult to obtain liability insurance. But Hartford joined forces with 25 campground owners and formed Evergreen as an insurance company owned by and for campgrounds. ARVC launched the Dick Hartford Memorial Plant a Tree Program by distributing more than 500 long leaf pines and Colorado Blue Spruce saplings to awards ceremony attendees.

The ARVC Foundation also presented its Above and Beyond Awards to Dick Hartford and to Judy LaPorta of Little Oaks Campground in Cape May Courthouse, N.J. LaPorta has spent a multitude of hours working during ARVC’s annual conferences, taking the lead in hosting the foundation information booth and supporting all of the foundation events.

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Sun-N-Fun Named ARVC ‘Mega Park of the Year’

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Tim Deputy with ARVC award

Sun-N-Fun Resort and Campground in Sarasota, Fla., was named Mega Park of the Year by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) during its annual hospitality conference held Nov. 5-8 in Knoxville, Tenn. The resort is a flagship property of Carefree RV Resorts, North America’s leading extended stay RV resort brand.

According to a press release, the Mega Park of the Year award is presented annually to RV parks featuring more than 500 campsites and is based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings and community service. This is the third win for Sun-N-Fun which also received the award in 2008 and 2010.

“We are very excited to receive this award. To be selected as ‘Mega Park of the Year’ is a true honor,” said Tim Deputy, Sun-N-Fun’s general manager and a vice president of Carefree. “It means so much to me and to the entire Sun-N-Fun team to have industry peers select us for this extraordinary recognition.”

Sun-N-Fun Resort and Campground has welcomed campers since 1967 and was acquired by Carefree Communities earlier this year. With 1,500 sites located on 177 acres on the east side of Sarasota, Sun-N-Fun provides a high standard of recreational facilities with an active, community-based lifestyle. The resort offers options for RV site rentals as well as park model rentals and sales.

Colleen Edwards, Carefree’s president, said, “Carefree’s strategy is to own and operate destination RV resorts in prime North American markets that offer a ‘leisure resort lifestyle’, exceptional service, and a cohesive sense of community for our customers and residents. Tim Deputy and his Sun-N-Fun team are a shining example of the culture Carefree aspires to extend throughout our company and in our communities. We are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication it took for Sun-N-Fun to earn ARVC’s Mega Park of the Year award.”

Carefree Communities Inc. is a private REIT which owns and operates 66 destination RV parks and senior MH communities with over 19,000 sites.


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ARVC Sees Attendance Bump for ’13 Conference

November 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

ARVC members were upbeat at OHCE (photo by Shawn Millsaps)

When the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) met this week in Knoxville, Tenn., for the annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE), optimism was evident.

“We have attendance from the campground side nearing or exceeding 600, which puts us roughly 200 above where we were last year in Vegas,” said Rob Schutter Jr., president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc., who stepped down as chairman of ARVC on Thursday (Nov. 7) and turned over the reins to Marcia Galvin. Schutter added that ARVC’s membership grew over the last year, going from 2,890 to 3,030 members.

“I think overall the industry was up. Industry reports say it’s up about 3.8%, which tracks a little higher than the previous five years where I guess the annualized rate’s right around 2.4,” he said. “Everybody’s coming off a pretty decent year, despite weather problems in regions of the country. Most parks are reporting very strong growth in rental properties, and that’s essentially being seen across the country.”

“I think the majority of what we’re seeing is trying to encourage our membership to understand the data we’re talking about,” Schutter said. ARVC rolled out a new tool for members to compare their operations to similar parks, and conference attendees heard again and again that guest feedback is valuable.

Galvin, state executive of the Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners (MACO) and part of the multigenerational family operating Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in Foxboro, noted, “I’m looking forward to the road we’re currently on. When I first started on the board, the road was very bumpy with no destination in mind five years ago. Now it’s a smooth road, there’s a clear destination.”

Rob Schutter

She added, “I think we’re going to need to partner with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), and have open communication. Campgrounds are going to need to keep the infrastructure up to accommodate the units that are coming down the line, so communication with those partners (is vital). As far as legislation, we’ve got to keep an eye on Obamacare. Small businesses are going to be put under considerable hardship with finances if we don’t keep our lobbyists working in Washington.”

She also wants to see a focus on “the big picture, make sure that everybody is going to be in a good position, campgrounds, to make memories for families down the road.”

One way ARVC is working to do that is by changing their education program, both to simplify and to increase the professionalism, and the association is continuing to roll out the new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program, replacing the former Certified Park Operator program.

Paul Bambei, president of the association, told members, “The year 2013 showed remarkable progress for our association, as ARVC continued to focus on enriching member programs and growth.” He detailed the education changes, new discounts for members on outdoor equipment and propane, and the music-licensing deal which allows members to save significant amounts on royalties paid for publicly played music.

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Paul Bambei: ARVC Adopts New Confab Timing

August 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei is closing his third year as CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). He spoke on a number of industry topics during an hour-long interview with Woodall’s Campground Management in mid-summer. Highlights of his comments appear in the following story and in a companion piece. Call it a “shake up.” That’s a phrase Paul Bambei, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), used to describe the 2013 ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) scheduled for Nov. 4-8 in Knoxville, Tenn. Unlike past years, ARVC has avoided conflicts with many other industry events, such as the KOA Convention, LSI Symposium and the IAAPA Show by putting the conference at the start of the month. The ARVC conference also will not conflict with the annual National RV Trade Show, which is held after Thanksgiving in Louisville, Ky., and big, 50th anniversary celebrations planned by the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) and Campground Owners of New York (CONY). “These are all great shows that were tearing our members apart in terms of which one do they go to. We wanted to eliminate that conflict,” Bambei said. “We will be able to see our friends from the manufacturing side at RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) and other shows that conflicted with ours. That won’t be an issue. We’re also avoiding the Thanksgiving holiday.” All told, “This should translate into lower air fares and an easier time to get away.” The ARVC conference will dovetail with the 48th Annual Smoky Mountain Gift Show Nov. 5-8 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, located 25 miles south of Knoxville. The show is popular with campground owners, Bambei noted. “Convenience” is the operative word for the 2013 conference, as Knoxville is located within a 500-mile drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and a similar percentage of ARVC member parks and campgrounds, Bambei noted. “The whole idea of going to a place like Knoxville makes sense for that time of the year,” he added. “We expect to see a lot of people driving in, including owners in the North who have shut down for the season and are heading South to their winter homes,” he said. Knoxville, a city of 200,000 located in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, will afford ARVC some unique opportunities to offer its members attending the conference, Bambei said. The Hilton Knoxville is the host hotel with the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park as the secondary hotel. The expo will be held in the Knoxville Convention Center. OHCE offers a choice of over 40 educational seminars, all of which are Outdoor Hospitality Education Program-approved and presented by nationally recognized speakers and leaders in the industry. ARVC has expanded educational content to give more learning opportunities. All educational seminars from Tuesday through Friday are now included in the full registration fee. To read the full article click here.

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ARVC Offers Members Savings on Equipment

July 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has launched a member benefit program with New Holland Agriculture that can save park operators up to 40% on purchases of tractors, backhoes and other utility vehicles.

“ARVC membership can now save park operators thousands of dollars whenever they purchase a tractor, backhoe or other type of maintenance or materials handling vehicle from New Holland,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO, in a press release.

ARVC created the new member benefit program with New Holland in direct response to feedback the association has received from members who have recommended the performance and reliability of New Holland equipment.

Based in New Holland, Penn., New Holland Agriculture sells agricultural tractors, compact tractors, attachments and loaders for compact tactors, backhoes, Rustler utility vehicles as well as skid steers and materials handling equipment.

To receive special pricing, ARVC members are encouraged to notify their New Holland dealer and indicate that they are an ARVC member and are eligible for a major account discount.

Based in Denver, Colo., the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds.

Click here for more information.

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ARVC’s New ‘Go To’ Website Stresses Content

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) has successfully launched a brand new website for the association at

“We’re really pleased with the way the site has come together,” Jennifer Schwartz, ARVC’s senior director of marketing communications and partnerships, stated in a news release. She added that ARVC tapped Indianapolis, Ind.-based WebLink International Inc., a leading provider of websites for trade associations, to develop the new site.

“ has been redesigned to incorporate the most relevant and compelling content,” Schwartz said. “It provides enhanced functionality and easy to use tools to better serve our members as a more complete, centralized member resource for member benefits, news and upcoming events. It’s everything you need to know about ARVC and ARVC-related opportunities.”

The website features ARVC’s educational, operational and marketing resources, updates on legislative and regulatory affairs, as well as information on ARVC Foundation programs and industry support.

“We anticipate that will quickly become the ‘go to’ resource for our members,” Schwartz said, adding that the website also has an online community forum where ARVC members, supplier partners, and state leaders can exchange ideas and opinions about topics of interest to them.

“The website also includes a searchable database of suppliers that we didn’t have before,” Schwartz said. “Now it’s very easy for our members to find providers of products or services they are searching for. We’ve also made it so that suppliers can update their business listings whenever they want to ensure that they can keep the most accurate and up-to-date information in front of our members.”

ARVC members can also use the website to process payments for membership dues as well as their attendance at conferences and workshops provided by the association.

For more information, visit

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ARVC Monitoring the Wave of New Legislation

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Jeff Sims

The amount of relevant new state legislation impacting the RV park and campground sector has virtually exploded over the past year, according to Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy for the Centennial, Colo.-based National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC).

While ARVC hires its own lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and a few state trade groups have their own legislative advocates, Sims focuses on bills that might represent either a boon or bust for park operators throughout the U.S. And he says the number of bills affecting the park sector grew from 637 in January of 2012 to 2,004 this past January — nearly a 300% increase.

“We’re able to monitor this activity on a daily basis, and then when we notice certain issues that will impact the industry – whether it be a small business issue or something that’s specifically related to campgrounds – we identify those things and report on them to keep people informed at the state level,” said Sims, who spoke with during the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners’ (WACO) 2013 Convention & Trade Show, Mar. 20-24 in Stevens Point. “If it’s an actionable item, we try to assist in creating the action that’s necessary to impact that bill either positively or negatively.

“And these numbers show the bulls-eye that’s on the backs of small businesses right at the moment,” said Sims, a former Missouri campground operator and ex-ARVC chairman. “Local and state governments are trying to fund budgets and we’re seeing transient occupancy taxes and all kinds of tax issues – some of them on a county basis, some on a state basis – that are trying, for instance, to identify what a park trailer is for tax purposes. So, it’s our job to stay abreast of those issues.”

Naturally, he pointed out, some of these bills are really “off the wall,” like a South Dakota initiative that surfaced in late January aimed at “pharmacy audit integrity” that actually had embedded rules addressing RV park and campground advertising, reservations and campsite deposit requirements as well as refund policies.

“Now what has that got to do with pharmacy integrity?” asked Sims. “Absolutely nothing. I don’t know what the circumstances were behind that, but I notified the South Dakota Campground Owners Association immediately, which got with the appropriate senator and got the bill pulled.”

Aside from tax issues – especially additional transient occupancy taxes – Sims is also seeing plenty of proposed new regulations dealing with storage facilities, length of stay and evictions as 3,000-member ARVC tries to keep member parks out of landlord-tenant relationships altogether.

Park trailers, of course, are often in the lawmaking cross-hairs.

“I think that’s here to stay,” adds Sims. “I think that as long as budgets are slim and municipalities and local governments are going to be looking for new ways to generate revenue they’ll be constantly looking at park trailers and saying, ‘oh, that’s not an RV.’ Now you and I both know what a definition of an RV is. It falls in that category. It’s licensed just like a vehicle. It’s treated like personal property. It’s not meant to enhance the property value of the park. So, we’re seeing them try to tax park trailers as real property, and it’s a problem for a park owner.”

At the same time, Sims was working recently with Wade Elliott, president of Preston, Wash.-based Utility Supply Group, and Bruce Hopkins, vice president of education and standards for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), on an issue regarding electric pedestals that would have considered them separate structures requiring double ground rods and significant added cost.

“It was way overkill and a huge cost thing,” says Sims, who sold his 233-site Branson-area park in June of 2007. “But the average park owner may not ever know about it because it didn’t come to fruition.”

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ARVC Preps Members on Health Care Changes

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following news release comes from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Regardless of what you think about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010, there is no question any longer that it is the law of the land. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld its constitutionality. And now, all the deadlines and requirements related to health care and health care insurance imbedded within the law are poised to kick in.

For America’s small business community, which includes nearly all of ARVC’s approximately 3,000 members, calendar year 2013 is being called by some as the “year of determination.”

That is, businesses must determine whether they are “small” or “large” under the ACA, and this determination in turn generally depends on the number of full-time employees.

In 2014, employers will be expected to know whether or not they are “large” or “small” so that they can comply with the law. This article focuses mostly on the ramifications for “small” businesses since most ARVC members fall into that category.

Generally, “small” businesses are those with fewer than 50 full-time employees (FTEs). FTEs are individuals who worked an average of 30 hours per week (130 total monthly hours). Part-time employees’ hours are converted into FTE employees to determine employer size. For example, if six employees worked five hours per week, they would count as if the company had one additional FTE.

It should be noted that under ACA, an employer is not considered “large” if it has 50 FTEs for 120 days or less during the calendar year. The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor are expected to provide additional guidance on determining seasonal workers. Through 2014, employers are permitted to make a “reasonable, good faith interpretation” of the term “seasonal employee.”

The ACA does not require small businesses as defined under ACA to provide health care insurance. However, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, small businesses with 50 or fewer FTEs will be able to purchase coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges.

These exchanges are competitive marketplaces where small businesses can find health coverage from a selection of providers, and pool their risks and thereby lower their administrative costs. Open enrollment through SHOP exchanges begins on October 1, 2013. Employers with up to 100 FTEs will be able to participate in SHOP beginning in 2016. States may limit the small business definition to no more than 50 FTEs until 2016.

Furthermore, the ACA offers tax credits for eligible small businesses that choose to provide health insurance for their employees. To qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (25 percent for non-profits), the business must:

  • Have fewer than 25 FTEs.
  • Pay average annual wages of less than $50,000.
  • Contribute 50% or more toward employee health insurance premiums.

In 2014, the tax credit increases to 50 percent (35 percent for non-profits), and is available to qualified small businesses which participate in the SHOP exchanges. Small businesses can claim the credit through 2013 and for two additional years beginning in 2014.

In contrast, beginning in 2014, businesses with 50 or more FTEs (or full-time equivalents) that do not offer affordable health insurance that provides a minimum level of coverage to substantially all of their FTEs (and their dependents) may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment if at least one of their FTEs receives a premium tax credit to purchase coverage in an insurance marketplace or exchange.

If a business is at or near this threshold level of FTEs, it is important to understand how the rules may apply and how the shared responsibility payments could be triggered.

Stated another way (from the perspective of “small” businesses under ACA), employers with fewer than 50 FTEs are exempt from the new employer shared responsibility policies, and they do not have to pay an assessment if their employees receive tax credits through an exchange.

Finally, since some ARVC members are self-employed and may have no employees, it is important to note that the self- employed will be able to purchase health insurance through individual exchanges beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

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ARVC Entering Sequestration Lobbying Efforts

March 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the government’s sequestration, which went into effect March 1, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) posted a lengthy news release on its website. Portions of the release appear below.

With no political solution in sight, ARVC is working alongside the U.S. Travel Association and others on several fronts to develop a strategy to help end this man-made crisis. Our coalition is:

  • Engaging media to voice the travel industry’s concerns.
  • Communicating directly with Congressional offices to inform them of the deep impact the sequester will have on travelers and its ripple in the economy.
  • Activating a grassroots mobile messaging campaign that easily bridges frustrated travelers with lawmakers.
  • Developing economic research to paint a picture of the realities stemming from these reductions.

Amplifying Travel’s Impact in the Media

  • We are aggressively engaging with media outlets aimed at both policymakers and the public. Statements from the Travel Association on the sequester have already received widespread media coverage. The association is also considering select advertisements to highlight the impact of the sequester on travelers and to ask Congress to “Draw the Line” – travelers have waited long enough.

Informing Congressional Leaders on Both Sides of the Aisle

  • We are communicating directly with congressional offices, particularly those in districts where travel has a particularly strong economic effect, informing them of the deep impact the sequester will have on American travelers and its broader effect across the economy.
  • Mobile messaging is a creative way to bridge frustrated travelers with lawmakers. Our Power of Travel Coalition is encouraging grassroots advocates to text “DELAYED” to 877-877 to receive a reply with information on how to contact Congress on the sequester.

Developing Research that Indicates the Sequester’s Economic Impact

  • U.S. Travel’s economists are conducting research on the actual economic impact of the sequester, including trips that may be canceled due to the additional travel difficulties that the sequester will bring. We will share the results of that research with our members, Capitol Hill, the press and the public.

There is absolutely no excuse for travelers in one of the world’s most advanced nations to suffer through a travel process that wastes their precious time and resources. With the launch of the sequester cuts, we will call on travelers to rise up and make their voices heard. We continue to point out to Congress that travel is driving post-recession recovery by creating jobs faster than the rest of the economy and that these cuts could derail our recovery.

By no means do we intend to discourage travel. It’s time for Washington to solve problems rather than make travel delays worse. We will actively monitor and proactively seek to influence action on the sequester and other issues in ways that benefit our industry and promote economic growth.

ARVC members are also invited to the National Issues Conference for an opportunity to meet face-to-face with Congress.

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ARVC Expanding Slate of Discount Programs

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The following column was provided by  the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and appears in the March issue of Woodall’s Campground Management.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is continuing to expand its roster of discount programs for private park operators and their employees across the country.

The association launched a new employee benefit program with AT&T in December that provides a 15% discount on qualifying personal wireless accounts.

The discount plan applies to personal wireless accounts and includes simultaneous use of voice and data services on AT&T’s mobile broadband network as well as unlimited usage of AT&T’s Wi-Fi network at no additional charge.

ARVC is also now making affordable medical, dental and vision plans available to its members, which can be purchased as packages or on an à la carte basis.

The ARVC Health Insurance Program is being administered by Warrenville, Ill.-based JBLG Health, the nation’s largest health insurance provider for business and trade associations.

To read the entire article click here.

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Industry Gives High Marks to ARVC’s Program

March 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, former editor of Woodall’s Campground Management, and appears in the March issue of WCM.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program (OHEP) seems to have been well accepted by the rank and file in the RV park and campground industry, with more than 80 enrolled in the program in the first year.

Of those, 74 students signed up for February’s The National School of RV Park and Campground Management program at Oglebay in Wheeling, W. Va., according to ARVC.

While it will take some time for individuals to complete the requirements for the entire program, there are students enrolled in each certificate level of the program, according to Barb Youmans, senior director of membership and education for ARVC.

Currently, the Outdoor Hospitality Professional certificate is the most popular with more than 50 enrollees. That is the third tier in the program and is targeted at those who have successfully completed the second tier, have a third CPO recertification or completed the ARVC Management two-year program and have 24 months experience in an ARVC member park or pre-approved facility.

The OHEP is purposeful and measures the knowledge of the participant, rather than time spent at a training, says Saundra Bryn, managing partner of Desert’s Edge RV-The Purple Park, Phoenix, Ariz. Bryn, a former educator and curriculum development expert, assisted ARVC in developing OHEP.

“The new program has competencies that are measurable,” Bryn explains. “People must demonstrate either in writing or verbally their knowledge of that area.”

The National School of RV Park and Campground Management provides the components necessary to complete the Outdoor Hospitality Professional certificate program and ARVC encourages its members to attend the school, but it is not required, according to Youmans.

To read the entire article click here.

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Russell Was an Inspiration for Jellystone, ARVC

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Keith Russell, a rising star in the Jellystone Park network and a strong proponent of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), died unexpectedly over the holidays while visiting with his newest grandchild.

According to a press release, Russell, 65, co-owned and operated the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Horn Lake, Miss., with his wife, Penny. He died Jan. 2.

“I counted Keith as one of my closest friends in the franchise system,” said Rob Schutter, who holds dual roles as ARVC chairman and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country. “I will greatly miss him, his sense of humor and his counsel.”

Russell built his park from scratch in 2007 and joined the Jellystone Park system in 2008. The Russells were named “Rookies of the Year” in 2009 and won Leisure Systems’ Pinnacle awards each of the following years. Their park also won Leisure Systems’ “Facility of the Year” award in 2010 as well as a “Landscaping Award” for park beautification in 2011.

Russell was well respected in the LSI system and was elected to LSI’s Franchise Advisory Board in 2010, just two years after joining the network.

“He was inspiring to the other franchisees,” Schutter said. “People loved to be around him. He was one of those unique individuals who captures your attention.”

Russell is survived by his wife, Penny, his son, Jimmy; his daughters, Holly, Jessica and Amy; and eight grandchildren.




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ARVC’s Present and Past Execs Compare Notes

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Bambei

In an unusual five-hour afternoon session in mid-January, 11 former chairmen of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) sat down around a U-shaped table in Tampa, Fla., and recounted some of the highlights and lowlights of their terms in office over the past 20 years.

Invited by ARVC CEO Paul Bambei as a way to “tap the brain trust and to reengage them for high-level strategic guidance and direction,” this meeting was the first of its kind in the history of ARVC but most certainly won’t be the last. It was held in the Embassy Suites Hotel while the 2nd World RV Conference was being held nearby, said Bambei, who chaired the ARVC meeting.

“A lot of anecdotal stories were passed back and forth,” he said. “There was a lot of good laughter. No formal minutes were taken and participants agreed not to reveal details of their discussion.

Invitations went out last summer. “We started with a gentlemen who wasn’t a past chairman but by everybody’s account needed to be there: Herb Strauss,” Bambei said. “He was the first treasurer of ARVC and was very instrumental in the early, ‘dire strait’ days of ARVC, keeping it together and personally bankrolling some of the expenses. It is such a great story.”

Other attendees were former ARVC chairmen Dan O’Connoll, Al Daniels, Irv Banes, Jeff Sims, Chuck Hays Jr., Dick Whalen, Randy Packard, Kathy Palmeri, Mark Anderson and David L. Berg; current ARVC executive committee members Rob Schutter Jr. (chairman), Marcia Galvin (first vice chairman), Terry Munoz (second vice chairman), Tim Deputy (treasurer), Truman Hartshorn (secretary); and Paul O’Neill, former ARVC ex com member.

“We purposely aligned this so our folks could intermingle (at the RV Conference) if they wished. The Florida RV SuperShow was also happening at the same time. It was a good place and the right time” for the ARVC gathering, said Bambei, now in his third year as Colorado-based ARVC’s CEO.

Other former ARVC chairmen were invited but were unable to attend, Bambei said. “I will try to keep it going at least once a year to get their strategic insights,” Bambei said. “They have such a wealth of information and perspective. This was invaluable.”

The group had a combined 500 years experience in RV park and campground management. “They talked about back in the day when they were chairmen, the stress and challenges that were facing them,” said Bambei. “They may have had run-ins with each other over the years, but they always walked out of the room with respect for each other.

“It puts a lot of the current day’s issues in perspective,” he added. “We all surreptitiously came to the conclusion a lot of the issues of yesteryear are still issues today. We kind of vowed not to let that happen in the future. We need to take the bull by the horns and deal with them,” he said. I think there will be some great value in this going forward “Time marks how people have made mistakes and learned from them. That is the greatest learning to be gained.

Meanwhile, a videographer taped 10-minute vignettes with each of the former chairmen for posting on ARVC’s revamped website when its launched in February.

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Good Crowd Gathers at ARVC Confab in Vegas

November 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A good crowd has assembled this week in Las Vegas to attend the Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Attendance so far is near 750, well above the 600 or so who attended the 2011 conference, reported Barb Youmans, director of membership.

The formal conference began Wednesday, though some meetings began as early as Monday, as did a two-day tour of area campgrounds.

“The conference is going extremely well. A lot of people are highly engaged. Everything is going as planned and as smoothly as possible. There have been no ‘hiccups,'” Youmans said.

The ARVC expo began today and features vendors from across the industry showing their goods and services.

Today’s activities included the Annual Meeting Breakfast this morning, the ARVC board of directors meeting and educational seminars.

The annual ARVC Foundation auction is tonight.

On Friday, the Expo and educational seminars resume.

The conference concludes with the gala awards banquet Friday night.

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ARVC’s Conference Begins Today in Las Vegas

November 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The 2012 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE) sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) formally kicks off today (Nov. 28) at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Billed as the premier event for the RV park and campground industry, the conference and expo will bring together owners and operators as well as suppliers and vendors from across the U.S. for three days packed with 40 educational seminars, cracker barrel discussions, various state and national association meetings and more than 100 vendors demonstrating the latest products and services that can assist in park operations.

Among the groups meeting are the ARVC board, ARVC Council of Delegates, state association presidents, Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP), the Joint 20 Groups, the ARVC Business Forum, the ARVC Foundation and several state associations.

Becky Winkler, principal of Green Peak Partners, is this year’s keynote speaker. Her address at the Opening Luncheon today will focus on how to add value to your business through the people you hire and the sense of community you build. Winkler is recognized as “a leading expert at helping companies pick the right people” and has coached numerous leaders to achieve peak performance.


One of the conference’s pre-events was the annual Successful Park Operators Tour of area campgrounds held on Monday and Tuesday. Led by Bob MacKinnon, MacKinnon Campground Consulting, in partnership with ARVC’s education department, participants were scheduled to visit:

  • Arizona Charlie’s RV Park, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Silver View RV Resort, Bullhead City, Ariz.
  • Islander RV Resort, Lake Havasu, Ariz.
  • Havasu Falls RV Resort, Lake Havasu, Ariz.
  • Pirate Cove Resort, Needles, Calif.
  • The Palms River Resort, Needles, Calif.

ARVC Board Elections

This election cycle, seats are available in Voting Areas 2, 3, 4 and 6 and voting caucuses will take place today. There is one contested race, in Voting Area 3, at this year’s conference.

Nominees for all voting areas are as follows:

  • Voting Area 2: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia; Truman Hartshorn, Lebanon Reservoir Campground, Hamilton, N.Y.
  • Voting Area 3: Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin; Gilbert “Chip” Hanawalt, Autumn Lakes Family Campground, Sunbury, Ohio, and Tim Wilcox, Gateway Park Campground, Hillsdale, Mich.
  • Voting Area 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee; Tim Deputy, Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, Sarasota, Fla.
  • Voting Area 6: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming; Daniel Wright, The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, Borrego Springs, Calif.

The event concludes with the annual ARVC Awards of Excellence Gala on Friday evening.




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