The deadline is approaching to register for this February’s 2007 session of the National School of RV Park & Campground Management at Oglebay in Wheeling, W. Va.
“This is really the flagship program of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the industry,” said California-based campground consultant Bob MacKinnon, a current faculty member and past chairman of the Board of Regents that oversees the week-long school, which for 2007 runs from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25.
Applicants may register up to and including the first day of the school, space permitting, but MacKinnon said there is a good chance this year’s available spaces will be minimal. Rates for first and second year students rise starting Feb. 1.
The school is designed to enhance the skills of its students through a high-quality educational program focusing on business management principles and practices as applied to the RV park and campground industry. This is accomplished in a professional educational setting providing formal and informal student contact with an experienced interdisciplinary facility including park operators.
MacKinnon calls the school “a total imersion experience” in which students study during the day, then network at night with fellow operators and faculty. The curriculum is designed to appeal to persons just entering the campground business as well as seasoned owners and operators.
The first-year curriculum includes:
* Marketing
* Advertising
* Customer surveys and tracking
* Recreation Operations
* Budgets and Charts of Accounts
* Public Budgeting
* Financial Management
* Public Financial Management
* Conflict Resolution
* Guest Relations
* Community Relations and Partnerships
* Establishing Service Standards
* Managing Personnel Processes I
* Re-Engineering the Product
* Safety Management
The second-year curriculum includes:
* Construction Project Management
* Technology Application
* Improving Financial Health
* Revenue Product Strategy
* Retail Strategies
* Managing Personnel Processes II
* Tax Planning Strategies
* Federal, State and Location Regulations
* Managing the Maintenance Function
* Campground Safety and Emergency Planning
MacKinnon, an eight-year veteran of the faculty, said he was gratified when several former ARVC chairmen, veterans of decades of campground management, reported that they had learned a great deal about their business while attending the school in recent years.
More than 1,500 people have gone through the program, now entering its 13th year. The school is designed to serve up to 90 new attendees and up to 45 second-year students. “The message we would like to get out to everyone is, if you think this is a week’s worth of seminars like you might get at a state or national convention, think again,” MacKinnon said. “If you look at the educational experiences throughout our association today, you might say seminars that are taught at state conventions might be at a high school level, at the national association, they are taught at the junior college level. What we do at Oglebay is at a full university level.
“But,” he quickly adds, “it is done in such a way that it is not intimidating to people. We structure it so anxiety is minimized. If students are not getting the point of the class, there are all sorts of ways to get extra time. We have tried to set it up so everyone succeeds.”
There is a test at the end of the week. “They have to have a passing grade to proceed to the second year or get graduate certificate at end of the second year,” said MacKinnon. “That is unique to any educational experience offered in the industry.”
A three-day graduate program, now in its fifth year, also is offered using interactive analysis of real-world data. It is only available to those who have successfully completed the first and second years’ curriculum and have earned their Certificate of Campground Management. The grad program runs Feb. 21-25.
An off-shoot from the graduate program and new this year will be the formation of a “20 Group” from the graduate enrollees. This represents just the fifth 20 Group serving the campground industry, MacKinnon said. “It’s great to see the students who have progressed through the first and second years,” he said. “Some who have been through multiple years of the graduate program still progress and continue to hone their educational experience to be the best they can be in this industry.”
He said the grad students got so involved that they wanted to take it to the next level. “The best way to do that was to create a platform for their own 20 Group,” he said.
Tuition rates are $500 for first-year students and $600 for second-year students. Room and board rates start at $405 for double occupancy and go up to $635 for the premium accommodations in the newly constructed wing. Room rates rise by $100 for reservations made starting Feb. 1.
Tuition for the graduate program is $425 with room and board rates starting at $314 for double occupancy and going up to $498 for a premium room.
To register for the 2007 school, contact ARVC at (703) 241-8801 or go online at www.arvc.org under education.