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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
A memorial service will be held in September for Jack E. Denton, a longtime campground industry pioneer who helped establish Arizona’s first campground industry association as well as the national organization that later became the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Denton, 89, died Aug. 26 in Peoria, Ariz. after suffering from complications from a broken hip sustained earlier in the week, according to an ARVC press release. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Sept. 11, at the First United Methodist Church at 7102 N. 58th Drive in Glendale, Ariz.
“Jack was considered the ‘Father of our industry in Arizona,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. “He was truly a treasure that we all adored. Jack never missed any meetings or conventions. We could always count on him for support.”
Denton built the Flagstaff KOA in 1967, just five years after the founding of Kampgrounds of America Inc. The campground, located at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, is one of the oldest continuously owned KOAs in the 484-park system in North America.
Denton was a charter member of Arizona ARVC’s precursor, the Arizona Campground Owners Association, which he helped form in 1975. He served on the state organization’s board of directors for over 30 years.
Always active on political issues, he was instrumental in passing legislation to create a Scenic Byways program not only in Arizona, but across the U.S., Mickelson said. He was also a strong advocate for private parks as they struggled with competitive issues involving government run parks.
“He was on a first name basis with the Forest Service in Flagstaff and was always partnering with them for the benefit of campgrounds and RV parks in northern Arizona,” Mickelson said.
At the national level, Denton was a charter member of the National Campground Owners Association (NCOA), the precursor to today’s National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, and briefly served on the National Association’s board of directors, according to David Gorin, a former ARVC President who was hired by the national association in the late 1980s.
“He loved the industry,” Gorin said of Denton, adding that Denton was very involved in national issues in the 1970s and ’80s, when insurance companies were pulling out of the campground insurance business. Denton served on a national insurance trust set up by NCOA that helped identify and recruit companies to provide insurance to campground operators.
According to KOA, Denton held several leadership roles in the KOA Owners Association, and was an innovator and “early adopter” of many KOA practices and amenities. His Flagstaff campground showcased several green initiatives, including an on-site recycling program. Denton had recently installed wind turbines to offset energy use, and his park was designated as an Environmental Impact Education Park.
Denton is survived by his two children, Robin and Jerry, of Glendale, Ariz. Granddaughter, Jessica, as well as two nieces, Barbara Funkhauser and Barbara Burns, from New Mexico and his longtime friend, Mary Smith, who owned, KOA of Redding in Redding, Calif. He was preceded in death by his wife, Chris.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has secured exclusive music licensing agreements with ASCAP and BMI, the two largest music licensing companies in the country, which have been packaged by ARVC into one, singularly priced, affordable plan.
According to a press release, the agreements, finalized this month, provide ARVC member parks with discounts of up to 70% for ASCAP and BMI licensing fees, amounting to “potentially huge annual savings” for parks.
“The only way private park operators can obtain these discounts is to be a member of ARVC,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO, adding that he anticipates a significant increase in ARVC membership as a result of the music licensing agreements. “Private park operators are always looking for ways to lower their operating costs and these agreements underscore once again how ARVC membership saves park operators money. If you’re not an ARVC member, you’re simply leaving lots of money on the table.”
Bambei continued, “We also see this as a win for private parks because park operators who participate in ARVC’s new music licensing program now have an effective way to stop unwanted phone calls from music licensing companies.”
Bambei said the agreements specifically forbid these music license companies from contacting any park that signs up to the new program with ARVC. The license will cover the entire calendar year from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, and any park that signs up within the current enrollment period will be “BMI-ASCAP license-protected” for the full, upcoming 2013 year.
Bambei said the music enrollment period begins immediately and that parks will have until Nov. 30 to sign up for the program that will cover the upcoming calendar year of 2013. Additionally, because BMI has already accepted fees (in some cases) in 2012 on their own that covered a portion of 2013, contractual arrangements have been made to refund any park owner for these applicable 2013 BMI license fees.
For more information call the ARVC office at (303) 681-0401. Parks that are not currently members of ARVC will need to join the association in order to participate in the program.
Members of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) now have the ability to make real-time changes to their park’s profiles on GoCampingAmerica.com.
“Each park now has its own page and its own URL destination on GoCampingAmerica.com, which they can populate with photos, links to YouTube videos and other social media applications,” Jennifer Schwartz, ARVC’s senior director of marketing, stated in a news release.
The new interface, which can be accessed through the park operator login on GoCampingAmerica.com, also gives ARVC members the ability to quickly and easily enter new search criteria for amenities, recreation, site preferences and services on a 24/7 basis. ARVC members can also highlight their park’s lifestyle options and affiliations.
“We need every ARVC member to check their park’s profile not only to make sure that it’s accurate and up to date, but to ensure that they’re taking advantage of the growing marketing power of the GoCampingAmerica website,” Schwartz said. “The whole point of this effort is to make it easier for consumers to find your parks and the specific amenities and services they’re looking for,” she said.
ARVC said that GoCampingAmerica is generating more than 90,000 unique visits per month and the numbers are increasing as a result of new ARVC advertising and media outreach efforts to promote the GoCampingAmerica site.
“This is why it’s critical that ARVC members update their park’s profile pages,” Schwartz said. “Is your GPS location correct? Are your amenities listed correctly? What kind of recreational activities do you provide? How long has it been since you’ve updated your photos? These are the kinds of the things park operators need to check to make their best pitch to consumers and get the most out of GoCampingAmerica.com.”
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), which represents more than 3,000 private campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks, is using McDermott Will & Emery to stake out a presence in Washington, according to a post on the Blog of Legal Times.
ARVC has deployed McDermott to lobby on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding pool lifts, among other matters concerning parks and campgrounds, congressional records show. McDermott partner David Ransom and legislative affairs director W. Kam Quarles are handling the account, according to a lobbying registration report filed with Congress.
The organization has expressed concern about ADA accessibility requirements for swimming pools and spas. Under the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, pool owners will be required to make their swimming facilities handicap accessible. The requirements favor fixed pool lifts over the devices’ portable counterparts, which, Ransom said, many campgrounds and RV parks have bought.
“So it set off quite a bit of chaos in the industry,” said Ransom, who has worked on legal matters for ARVC for about a year.
The U.S. Justice Department initially required owners of existing pools and spas to comply with the requirements by this year. But, acknowledging private-sector concerns and confusion about the ADA stipulations, the DOJ last month postponed the compliance deadline until Jan. 31, 2013.
ARVC said it had more than 80 visits with members of Congress in May and a meeting with the White House to discuss the ADA regulations, according to a news release from the organization.
Park operators will have until Jan. 31, 2013, to comply with changes in accessibility requirements for swimming pools and spas under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Justice Department announced on its website Wednesday (May 16) that it plans to publish a new rule on May 21 with the Jan. 31st compliance date.
“Thanks to an effective team effort involving private park operators working in collaboration with our counterparts in the hotel industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others, we have achieved our initial objective, which was to extend the ADA compliance date until next year,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
However, the Justice Department has not yet signaled a willingness to consider revising its regulations to make it possible for campgrounds, RV parks and resorts to meet the latest ADA requirements with portable pool lifts. ARVC contends that portable pool lifts are equally accessible to the public as fixed pool lifts and would not create a safety hazard for children who may be attracted to the equipment.
ARVC and its affiliates have endorsed a bill proposed by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., that would allow portable pool lifts to meet the new ADA pool lift requirements.
“We have scored one of our goals with the Justice Department, but our opposition to the fixed lift issue will continue,” Bambei said, adding that ARVC’s government affairs counsel, the Washington D.C. law firm of McDermott Will & Emery is reviewing the Justice Department’s latest statements to determine the appropriate next steps for the campground industry on this issue.
ARVC’s proactive efforts on the ADA pool lift issue so far have included over 80 visits last week with U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill; letter-writing campaigns; a visit to the White House at the invitation of the administration to discuss the issue; an official written comment to the Department of Justice’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; as well as coordinated lobbying by ARVC and its partners in the hotel industry, which include such notables as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Resort Development Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the World Water Park Association.
Congressional representatives have also sent letters to top Justice Department officials in response to the outreach by the campground and hotel industries.