ARVC Michigan President Tim Wilcox speaks during the ARVC Michigan conference.

The Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan’s (ARVC Michigan) 45th Annual Conference & Expo officially got underway Sunday (March 18) with a full day of seminars, presentations and a cracker barrel discussion.

Held at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich., the conference resumes today with another full day of seminars, plus a keynote presentation by Amy Wirtz on how listening skills can improve your business and personal life. The day ends with the opening of the two-day trade fair; the conference concludes tomorrow.

The conference began with a board meeting, which was followed by a luncheon presentation by Barb Youmans, senior director of education for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), who provided an update on benefits and services available from the organization, including the recently enacted NFPA 1194 course that could lead to certification and potential insurance discounts.

Following that, ARVC Michigan President Tim Wilcox, owner of Gateway Park Campground in Hillsdale, Mich., offered an update of the association and issues the board is working on, including a simplified membership dues program, a bylaws update and website improvement project.

After two afternoon seminars, attendees gathered for dinner and to listen to a legislative update from Lansing-based legislative consultant Scott Everett, who discussed the importance of supporting campground-friendly candidates in the upcoming statewide election that sees nearly all offices up for grabs. Also, Everett provided an update on several bills of note, including HB 4326 which would exempt campgrounds from a newly enacted groundwater discharge fee — a fee that has cost campgrounds $37,000 since it went into effect, he noted.

Finally, the evening was capped by a lively cracker barrel discussion that touched on many familiar topics, such as reservation software, security issues, sheds and decks, and the value of the association membership.

Wilcox, for one, said he values many things about his ARVC Michigan membership – Michigan is one of 23 states that is a partnering state with national ARVC – but one he values most is the networking.

“This is what I thrive on – the feet on the ground, down to earth, how’d you do that discussion where you learn from others,” Wilcox said.