David Berg of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport reporting on the Maine Campground Owners Association while other NCA members listen

The Northeast Conference on Camping opened Wednesday (March 16) in Nashua, N.H., with a wave of apparent optimism for the upcoming camping season from nine member states from Maine to Maryland comprising the Northeast Campground Association (NCA).

“We have a wonderful program planned over the next three days,” said NCA Executive Director Cyndy Zbierski at the conference’s opening brunch on Wednesday. “The speakers are here and ready, 70 exhibitors are going to be moving in tomorrow morning. We have a full program.”

That program features the trade show, the annual NCA auction and scholarship awards and informational sessions from a variety of experts on topics including CPR, succession and business planning, effective campground store strategies, tree safety and technology.

The conference comes as many of the campgrounds in the Northeast prepare to open within the next few weeks, and by all accounts, most are expecting a robust year in terms of camper registrations.

“We’re hoping the 2017 season will be great for everyone,” said Jean Taylor of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association (NJCOA) and first vice president of NCA. The event is fresh off the NJCOA-sponsored Mid-Atlantic States Conference, which Taylor said drew a lot of young professionals and first-time attendees. Zbierski, for her part, was expecting a lot of first-timers for the Northeast Conference on Camping as well.

Mike Papp of Campground Owners of New York (CONY) said his organization has handed out 54,000 2017 camping directories already in a little over two months. Papp owns West Canada Creek Campsite Inc. in the Adirondack foothills in Poland, N.Y.

David Berg, of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Me., a visible player in NCA, the Maine Campground Owners Association (MECOA) and a former chairman of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), pointed out that last year was the best year MECOA members have ever seen, “and this year’s shaping up to be the same thing.”

“It’s a good time to be in the campground industry, whether you own a campground or you’re looking to sell one,” said Jeremy Sprince, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association. “Reservations are up. It’s going to be another really good year.”

Maryland’s Mike Irons agreed, adding, “Camping continues to be popular, perhaps the highest peak we’ve ever seen. We can also agree that campers expect and demand more amenities, activities and value than ever before. Our rentals are bigger and demand is strong for park models, cabins and yurts. The innovations in the RV industry as they are making a push toward seasonal rental units allows more people to explore the camping lifestyle.”

The conference runs through Saturday (Mar. 18) at the Radisson Hotel Nashua in Nashua.