The Northeast Conference on Camping entered day two (March 17) of its three-day run in Nashua, N.H., marked by a full agenda and a decidedly upbeat tone by members following a year in which both public and private parks were setting records.
“People are cooped up and ready to camp. They’ve been posting on Facebook, ‘Is it Spring yet?’” said Michelle Viola of The Pines Campground, whose park, The Pines Campground in Ashby, Mass., is open all year, although the season really picks up in May. And based on what Viola is seeing, she’s anticipating a strong season.
Sylvia Manning, who owns Abel Mountain Campground in Vermont with her husband, Ken, said they’re ready to enter their second season and are looking for a big year at their 130-site park on 36 acres. “In 2017 there aren’t a lot of empty sites in July and August already, and we have good bookings into 2018,” she said.
Similarly, David Berg, owner of Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, is also optimistic about the coming year. His park has not seen any revenue decline in more than 15 years, and the last several have accelerated that trend.
“Last year was phenomenal, and this year looks like it’s going to be even better, as incredible as that seems,” Berg said. “We’re booked into 2018, and not because we offered it. People wanted it and asked, since they couldn’t get what they wanted this year.”
Campground operators from nine northeastern states are gathered for the conference, which Northeast Campground Association (NCA) Executive Director Cyndy Zbierski reported is running smoothly.
The day started with a group breakfast, then moved into seven different seminars that provided campground operators from Maine to Maryland with business intelligence on Wi-Fi, planning events, handling credit cards, developing internships, playground safety, tree safety and the importance of reservation systems.
Following the awards luncheon, attending campground operators will interface with dozens of vendors who supply the industry with everything from fire starters to T-shirts, insurance and cabin-style park model RVs.
“I have 70 companies — and 17 companies that are brand new to the show — on the floor,” said Zbierski, noting that overall registrations were up this year, especially with people coming for a single day to attend seminars and the trade show. “I think that’s wonderful for the campgrounds. They get to meet new providers and see so many long-time companies who are part of this industry.”
After this evening’s dinner buffet and the popular NCA auction, the conference wraps up on Saturday with a morning trade show, three more educational seminars and a cracker barrel session moderated by Marcia Galvin of Normandy Farms Family Campground in Foxboro, Mass. A former chairwoman of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), Galvin heads up the Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners/CampMass.
The event, held at the Radisson Hotel Nashua, concludes Saturday evening with a dinner featuring improvisational comedy troupe “Running With Scissors.”