In a rather surprising move, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) has decided to end a long debate within its ranks and sell its headquarters in Falls Church, Va. ARVC plans to relocate in the Denver, Colo., area, where it intends to develop a novel new concept called the “Center for Outdoor Hospitality.”
The ARVC board approved the move — and a search for property in Colorado — on April 21, according to ARVC President Linda Profaizer, who reported that the decision was unanimous and represented “the culmination of several years of discussion on how to put the association in a better financial position and to create a Center for Outdoor Hospitality.”
The proposed Center for Outdoor Hospitality would be based in a working RV park and campground, providing members with a model for operating a successful facility. In addition to educational programs, the center would also spotlight the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle, including strengthening of family ties, bonding with family and friends, and health and fitness benefits. “The concept of the center has been discussed formally with a wide range of groups within the industry, including the ARVC board, ARVC Foundation, Business Forum, Council of Delegates and in casual conversation among the membership,” Profaizer said. “The response from all sectors has been consistently in favor of such a concept.”
“The concept of the Center for Outdoor Hospitality was created to showcase the industry to park developers, ARVC members, the RVing and camping public and the media,” adds ARVC Chairman Max Gibbs. “This is an exciting opportunity for the association and the industry as well.”
The first step in the process is to evaluate the Falls Church property, purchased in 1996, to ensure that original calculations are valid prior to putting it up for sale. At the same time, ARVC is actively looking for affordable property in Colorado. “Denver was chosen over other areas of the country under consideration due to its central location, easy access through a hub airport, numerous universities and colleges specializing in outdoor recreation and hospitality and a lower cost of living and greater quality of life,” said Profaizer. “Once we have secured a new location for the association, then we can then turn our attention to the potential development of the Center for Outdoor Hospitality.”
As for specific sites, ARVC reported that it’s currently in ongoing discussions to partner with the city of Denver and locate the project at the Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground, which is situated in the heart of Genesee Mountain Park, 20 minutes from downtown Denver. “In addition to the Chief Hosa property, other locations will continue to be explored for the center as we work with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and any other state agencies that can assist in helping to find the best opportunities in the Denver marketplace for ARVC,” Profaizer added.
ARVC, she emphasized, is not interested in overseeing the center’s campground operations. “It is important to note that ARVC would not be in the park business,” she noted. “We would work with a third-party operator to run that portion of the center. “They would, however, be guided by the standards set by ARVC for the concept. ARVC staff does not have the expertise nor the time to run a park, and that is not our core business.”
As envisioned by ARVC, the center would:
- Create a “living laboratory” for developers, park operators, consumers and the media to view in action.
- Include an industry showcase, depicting development of a facility from design concept to completion.
- Offer industry suppliers the opportunity to showcase their products in action.
- Store historical aspects of the RV park and campground sector.
- House research information on the parks arena.
- Showcase all types of RVs and camping equipment available to the traveling public, including RVs, tenting options, park models, cabins and yurts.
- Offer a public picnic/rest area exemplifying the lifestyle and health benefits of the RV park and camping arena.
- Publicize educational opportunities in the RV park and campground business.
- Make available internships to college students seeking an opportunity in commercial outdoor hospitality.
- Promote opportunities for “workampers” to find hands-on training for positions at RV parks and campgrounds.
- Develop and host forums to solicit consumer feedback on the industry.
- Help launch community outreach programs to foster partnerships with groups to offer camping experiences to children and others unfamiliar with camping. — Evanne Schmarder