The entire 20-member board of directors of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has voted unanimously to maintain ARVC’s existing structure, which includes cooperative and affiliated tiers of partnership with state campground associations.

“The board sent a clear message that our current structure enables us to best serve campground and RV park owners, whom they view as our ultimate customers,” Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

The unanimous vote took place March 20 in Memphis, Tenn., after a strategic task force comprised of campground industry representatives had spent more than a year studying the various relationships ARVC could have with state associations and with park owners.

As directed by the board, task force recommendations have been publicly posted on the ARVC.org website since early December for over 60 days. Subsequently, seven state associations and several ARVC members voiced their comments, which were all documented and shared at the Memphis board meeting in March.

The options under consideration included creating a direct membership structure, in which parks could join ARVC directly without having to pay dues to their state association. This option is currently available only to parks in states that are not affiliated with ARVC.

The board also considered creating a federation of state associations in which ARVC and its staff would focus their attention exclusively on the needs of state campground association executives.

But after nearly six hours of discussion, all 20 board members agreed that maintaining ARVC’s existing structure is the best option because it serves the needs of park operators as well as state campground associations.

“All three options had pros and cons that were strongly considered and vetted,” Bambei said. “Each board member was educated on the pros and cons of the three types of structures that were under consideration, and out of that vetting came a vote that was unanimous.”

The actual motion stated “that the ARVC board out of three choices elects to pursue Option  No. 2 (Partnership) and to make public to the membership the reasons as to this decision.”

Deb Carter, who serves as executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds and is the ARVC board representative for the affiliated and cooperating state executives, said she was pleased by the “thoroughness and clarity of the education and voting processes” and by the fact that every board member had the opportunity to voice his or her opinion or concern before casting their vote.

“For me, I think the best part of that was the fact that everybody felt free to speak and everybody’s opinion was respected and discussed,” Carter said. “There were no hidden agendas. It had nothing to do with state or national associations. It really had to do with what’s right for our members.”

Carter also sent an e-mail to members of the Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP) notifying them of the unanimous vote and of the need for ARVC to maintain its current relationship structure with state associations. “I believe that the current form is so far improved from a couple of years ago that we need to give it more time to mature and become more solid and fair to all involved,” she wrote.

ARVC Chairman Rob Schutter, for his part, said he was pleased with the outcome of the vote. “I think the significance of the vote is that it underscores everyone’s desire to maintain relationships with state associations that are out there and established,” he said.

“It truly is a partnership, and it brings the question down the road of how valuable it is to affiliate with ARVC,” said board member Garry Cole, noting that the entire industry has benefited from ARVC’s work on the ADA pool lift issue.

Former ARVC Chairman David L. Berg also noted that maintaining the existing structure puts the onus on ARVC to produce results. “I believe that we need to continue our structure as is and show value to our state execs and members,” he said.

During their Memphis meeting, ARVC’s board also voted to lower the threshold required for states to have a “cooperative” relationship status with ARVC. Under the previous bylaws, 60% of a state campground association’s members had to also be ARVC members for a state to have “cooperative” relationship with ARVC. Under the bylaw change approved in Memphis, state associations can now become cooperative members if 50% of their members are also ARVC members.

In cooperative relationships, ARVC shares 10% of the membership dues it collects from parks with their state association. States that are affiliated with ARVC receive 20% of the membership dues ARVC collects.