Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 8012 - January 2017 Woodall’s Campground Management ON CAMPGROUNDS Reports from the field: Bob Ashley WhenJonWiltziusandhiswifeJennifer fouryearsagodecidedtobuyBreezyHill Campground,a110-siteparkon60acres inFondduLac,Wis.,theyknewtherewas a lot of work ahead. “The campground needed attention,” Wiltzius said in a tone that indicated he was making an understatement. Among the first things the couple did was leave a franchise system to establish Breezy Hill’s independence. “When you buy into a franchise like that, they set the rules.We felt it was im- portant that we have autonomy,” said Wiltzius, a retired high school principal whose wife still teaches. “We feel it’s important for us to talk to our campers. For example, we don’t have an online reservation system. We want people to call us so we can answer their questions. And since 70% of our clientele comes from within a 60-mile radius, we felt we could enhance that ourselves.” The strategy seems to have worked. “Whenweboughtthecampground,there were six seasonal sites,” Wiltzius said. “Next year we already have 46 booked.” Thatdidn’tcomewithoutalotofwork. Thirty-five new sites are scheduled to open in April and air conditioning has been added to eight rustic cabins that were onsite when they bought the park. The couple also built a swimming pond with a sand beach — one of four ponds on the campground — rebuilt the park’s heated swimming pool and currently are buildingaroadtoconnecttwosectionsof the park to make it easier for big rigs to maneuver. The list goes on. The Wiltziuses RVed for 15 years in a fifth-wheel trailer before the family bought Breezy Hill. “We learned a lot about campgrounds, being RVers our- selves,”Wiltziussaid.“Wearelearningthe trade and we’ve got a lot of ideas. It’s a matter of time and resources.” JonWiltzius’sister,Sara,helpsmanage the park when Jon isn’t around. Withatypicalspring-to-fallseasonthe first three years, Breezy Hill will be open thiswinterforthefirsttime,butwithonly eightsitesavailable.“Wehaveanexcavat- ing company working on a pipeline nearby,” Wiltzius said. “We hope to have some of the workers stay here.” Businessattheparkhasgrownsteadily during the three seasons the Wiltziuses have owned Breezy Hill.“We took over in 2014,increasedournumbersby33%and this year we are 10% higher than that.” To keep families busy, Breezy Hill schedules regular themed weekends and brings in entertainment such as bands andwoodcarvers;forIndependenceDay the park hosts its own fireworks show. Last summer, Breezy Hill hosted a national barbecue contest that drew 30 participants, the proceeds of which went to a local charity that deals with sexual abuse. And in December, the Wiltziuses Newly air-conditioned cabins and four ponds are some of the attractions at Breezy Hill. campground with her husband Dale. With 160 sites on 10 acres, the 40-and- over park 10 miles off the Gulf Coast is considered“small” by Florida standards. “This time of year it’s a little slow,” Johnson said. “But we’ll be full January through March.” About 90 residents stay at the park year-round in an assortment of park models, fifth-wheels and motorhomes, she reported. Tropical Gardens also will get a good number of seasonal residents. During the 12 years she and her hus- band have managed the park, it’s been given a complete facelift. Johnson said. “They redid the bathroom, pool and rec hall,” she said.“It’s completely different.” Next on the rehab front in the spring will be several sites now on grass that will be paved with concrete.“Eventually, they will all be concrete,” she reported. Johnsonsaidthatpriceofsites—$800 amonth—isamongthethingsthatdraw people toTropical Gardens. “We are in the middle price range,” Johnson said. “Other parks closer to the beach get $2,000 a month.” * * * * * Thirty miles southeast of Mobile, Ala., Magnolia Farms RV Park in Foley is about to figuratively get “hot” even as wintertemperaturescooldowninsouth- ern Alabama. “We don’t get much traffic in the summer — just a few people staying for a night or two,” said Magnolia Farms Manager FredMaples.“It’s just too hot.” That changed this month. “We will be full in January, February and March when all the Northerners get tired of the cold,” Maples said. The 50-site campground is 11 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, which is a primary reason that the park will fill up. But what also brings RVers to the park, Maples said, is how quiet and peaceful it is—almosttooquiet.“Icouldn’tsleepfor the first three nights I was here, it was so quiet,” he said. The park at one time was about twice its current size, but about a decade ago was split in two with one side remaining an overnight campground and the other becoming a condominium park. WCM Editor-at-Large Bob Ashley is aCentralIndiana-basedfreelancewriter/ editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who has focused on the RV industry and national recreation issues for the past 19 years. He received the 2013 “Distin- guished Service in RV Journalism” award from the Recreation Vehicle In- dustry Association (RVIA). WCM decked up the park for Christmas and offered sleigh rides to the general public. It’scoincidentalthattheparkhasasta- ble where RVers can keep their horses, andWiltzius has added an outdoor arena and a paddock. “Among horse people, word travels,” Wiltzius said. “It’s very difficult if you are travelingwithhorsestofindsomeplaceto board them.” It’snotcoincidentalthattheWiltziuses havehorsesfortheirchildren,Emma,16, andMya,12.“Partofthedealwithusbuy- ing the campground was that each of themwouldgettheirownhorse,”hesaid. “They’ve being riding since they were 4.” * * * * * Although in early December business hadn’t picked up yet at Tropical Gardens RV Park in Bradenton, Fla., the winter season is shaping up to be busy, accord- ing to Rita Johnson, who manages the Florida’s Compass RV Park Grows With New Ownership