Tug and Judy Miller, co-executive directors of the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA) for the past 23 years, plan to retire in July and will be replaced by their daughter, Debbie Sipe, who has been working along with the Millers since their earliest days managing the association.
“Tug and Judy have been running CTPA almost since the beginning,” Sipe said, adding that the Auburn, Calif. couple initially became part-time co-executive directors of the state campground association in 1981, six years after the organization was formed.
The Millers will be honored for their efforts at an awards dinner at CTPA’s Western Conference and Trade Show Feb. 23-25 at the Doubletree Hotel Jantzen Beach in Portland, Ore.
Current and former California campground operators believe the honor is well deserved.
“Tug and Judy just put so much of themselves in whatever they do,” said Cindy Wimbish, vice president and general manager of the 210-space Orangeland RV Resort in Orange, Calif., and whose father, Eldredge Welton, co-founded CTPA. “It seems like whenever there is a question (involving park operations) or a need, they personally help until the situation is solved or made better.”
Mack McIntyre, 83, who built the 171-space Mountain Valley RV Park in Hemet, said the Millers’ enthusiasm has always been an inspiration to park operators. “They made CTPA into a valuable organization,” he said.
Sipe credited her parents for helping to expand CTPA’s membership, while steadfastly increasing the political clout of park owners across the West. “When they started, CTPA had 165 members,” she said. “We now have over 500 members in four states, including, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.”
CTPA was also the first statewide campground association to have a searchable website, Sipe said, adding that Judy Miller played a key role in persuading the California Office of Tourism to conduct statewide studies of consumer spending.
Tug Miller, for his part, scored numerous legislative victories on behalf of campground owners, including the legalization of various types of recreational park trailers or “park models” in California as well as the Golden State’s adoption of national standards for mileage markers, Sipe said.
Tug Miller became co-chairman in 1996 of the newly established California Roundtable on Recreation Tourism, which includes representatives from California State Parks, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and private industry.
“It is through these contacts,” Sipe said, “that CTPA greatly influenced the closure of free camping on a popular northern California coastal area known as the Freshwater Lagoon.”
Tug Miller currently is working with the California Legislature to exempt campgrounds and RV parks from recently passed eviction laws that give tenants 60 days to relocate after they receive an eviction notice.
Former campground operators themselves, the Millers built the Auburn, Calif. KOA Kampground, which they sold in 1984, the same year they became full-time co-executive directors of CTPA.
For most of their tenure, the Millers have provided association management and newsletter publishing services to CTPA through Executive Services Group (ESG), a private company they formed in 1986 with John and Ruth Imler. The Imlers left Executive Services Group in 1994 so John Imler could pursue his own campground consulting business, Sipe said.