b'CAMPGROUND PROFILE n BY JEFF CRIDERTime Away RV Resort to Open in June, Caters to CampersLooking for an Escape from the Pressures of LifeTimeAwayRVResort inLincoln, tional African American RV Associa-Ala., is only a five-minute walk from Tal- tion.ladega Superspeedway. Like many campground owners, theBut as the developers of one of the Lawsonsdecidedtodeveloptheirlargest black-owned RV resorts in the campground late in life as a way to livecountrywith100pull-throughsites, their unique American dream, buildingNathan and Alicia Lawson also hope onthesuccessestheyhadachievedtheir resort not only offers a convenient throughouttheiradultlives.Butthecamping location for NASCAR race fans Lawsons have also had to overcome abut a true escape from the pressures of variety of life challenges in addition towork, politics, history and the complex- learninghowtobecomesuccessfulities of life in 21st century America. African American entrepreneurs.We want everybody to know this is TheLawsonsareoriginallyfromTime Away RV Resort, Alicia Lawson Toledo, Ohio, but were raised in differ-said of the park, which is set to host its enteconomiccircumstances.Aliciagrand opening in June. Take time away grew up in a Section 8 housing projectfrom being black. Take time away from called Port Lawrence Homes, got preg-being white. This is a campground that nant with her first daughter, Arlinda, atreflects the true America. Leave your age14,andnearlydroppedoutofconfederate flags at home. We are here school, while Nathan grew up in a niceras campers who like to camp, who like neighborhood with a family that en-to play, who like to leave their everyday joyed taking camping trips.world. If it werent for the intervention andAs such, Alicia said, Time Away RV mentoring of her counselor, MichaelResort offers only overnight campsites Kedzerski, who refused to allow her toso that the park can continually accom- drop out of school, Alicias life wouldmodate people who want a temporary likely have spiraled out of control. Iescape as opposed to a place to live. credit him for counseling me and mak-TheLawsonsarealsoequipping ing it so that I graduated school, she Nathan and Alicia Lawson started their campground after almost 30 years in other careers.Time Away RV Resort with attractive said. He taught me the importance ofamenities, including a family swimming getting a job. He would not allow me topool, gathering areas, group campsites, get on welfare. I learned how to be ac- uncles all worked on cars, he said. The market started to recover abouttropicallandscaping,akidsplay- countable for my actions and how to be After graduating from high school, fouryearsagoandthatswhenweground, a dog park, as well as a bath- aproductivememberofsocietybe- Nathan initially attended a vocational startedlookingforanotherincomehouse, laundry facilities, cable TV and cause of him. Arlindas birth gave me schoolwherehelearnedhowtodo stream. We decided then to start liqui-Wi-Fi.something to live for and Kedzerski al- plumbing before joining the U.S. Army, dating some of our properties to be pre-Were hoping to have our pool ready ways made reference to making life bet- where he was assigned to work as a gen- pared for our next venture.by June, Alicia said. ter for her. erator mechanic and learned how to But while the Lawsons gained con-When Woodalls Campground Maga- Alicia met Nathan when she was 17 workwithelectricity.Afterspending siderable experience as landlords withzine caught up with the Lawsons, they and they married a year later. Alicia sub- nearly a decade in the military, Nathan rental properties, Nathan reached thehad already pretty much booked their sequently developed a 25-year career as left the Army and worked as a self-em- point where he wanted to scale back hispark for the summer with a healthy mix a pharmaceutical and medical products ployed truck driver for 30 years. workload. It got to be too much workof RV enthusiasts who represent the di- sales representative that eventually led But while the Lawsons enjoyed the trying to manage and improve rentalversity of America. Alicia added that the them to relocate to Fort Wayne, Ind. taste of success with their respective ca- properties in Ohio when they lived insupport and encouragement she and Nathan, for his part, grew up with a reers, they eventually wanted to earn Indiana. That is when the Lawsons de-Nathan have received from individual love of fixing things. As a kid growing more money and diversify their income cidedtodeveloptheirowncamp-RVers and rally groups has been strong, up, my first love was tinkering, tearing streams. Inspired by Suzie Orman, the ground,whichtheywouldrunasaincluding groups affiliated with the Na- stuff apart and fixing it. My father and popular financial advisor, the Lawsons family business with their adult daugh-purchased half a dozen homes in the ters, Arlinda and Shirley, helping outToledo area through foreclosure sales. with marketing and preparations forTheysubsequentlyrepairedandim- theirgrandopening. Theirson,Ter-proved these homes and rented them rance, is traveling around the world,out. having recently completed nine years ofThe Lawsons eventually got to the service in the U.S. Army, including serv-pointwheretheyownednearly30 ice in Afghanistan.homes, a remarkable accomplishment Why Alabama? some might ask.given the difficulties that African Amer- Like many Midwesterners, the Law-icanshavehistoricallyencountered sons wanted to escape the long, coldwhen applying for loans. winters,sotheyheadedSoutheast,For several decades during the 20th spending the better part of a year look-century, it was exceedingly difficult for ing for land they could develop into anAfrican Americans to obtain housing RV resort from the ground up. Travelingloans because the Federal Housing Ad- in their 40-foot Thor Aria motorhome,ministration (FHA) refused to insure they looked all over Florida, Tennesseehome loans made to black buyers as a and Georgia before finding their currentmatter of policy, as Richard Rothstein property, a 13-acre site near Talladeganotes in his 2017 book, The Color of Superspeedway in Lincoln, Ala. TheLaw.Butwhilesuchdiscriminatory grass was probably three feet tall (whenpracticeswereeventuallyoutlawed, we first saw the property). But at least itmany African Americans continue to alreadyhadwaterandpowerintheface discrimination when applying for ground, Nathan said.loans, a situation that prompted the The Lawsons designed Time Away RVLawsons to finance Time Away RV Re- Resort themselves, using the campsitesort using their cash, which they raised configurations, layouts and amenitiesfrom selling some of their rental prop- they liked at other campgrounds theyThe Lawsons have been working to ensure their park is a relaxing escape by adding a erties. visitedintheirtravels.Wetriedtovariety of amenities and features. We would have never made it if we mimic them as best we could, Nathanhad relied on a bank loan, Alicia said. said, adding that he designed each RV28 June 2021 Woodalls Campground Magazine'