b'GUEST VIEWSo, We Built a CampgroundMaking Our Dream a RealityNeither of us were developers, but we both shared a vision for what we wantedErin and to build: a campground with the look and feel of a well-maintained state park,Dan Thiembut with the hospitality and amenities of the great kiwi holiday parks.Whatinspiredyoutobuildthismany issues along the way. We had to place? Thats perhaps the most com- navigate multiple different public and mon question we get asked as ownersregulatory agencies, plus our local gas of Inn Town Campground, a 15-acreandelectricutility. Wehadtogrant private campground in Nevada City,maintenance and access easements, Calif.Theanswer,likemanyotherwhich sometimes conflicted with other campground owners, starts with a story. easements. In one example, the local We spent five-and-a-half years living,water district was arguing with us about studying and working in New Zealand.subordinating a preservation easement Both of our children were born there.to their maintenance easement. The New Zealand is a special place, full ofnegotiations took so long that we didnt geographic and cultural diversity. Its ahaveafinalwaterconnectionuntil country that easily satiates the inter- about one month before opening day, minable wanderlust of travelers andwhich was scheduled for July 1, 2016. provides amazing ways to explore theThere were many sleepless nights as we outdoors. tried to navigate the requirements. Prior to moving back to California,The Thiems jumped over a number of hurdles to complete their dream park in California.Meanwhile, I was busy running the wespentseveralmonthstravelingmotel business and building our camp-aroundNewZealandinaToyotaWe knew that we needed plenty ofprocess well.grounds brand online. We hired a pro-campervanwithoursmallchildren.good help. One of the first contacts DanThere were specialist reports, sur- fessional photographer to shoot our Our favorite nights were those spent atmade was Bryan McAlister, a fellowveys and will-serve letters to get, plusmockup campsites and were able to classic Kiwi holiday parks, which of- Cub Scout dad. I remember readingnegotiations with neighbors and theuse those images for social media posts feredcloseaccesstotown,family- one of his scout emails and looking atcity for access and easements. We evenand teasers. By January 2016, we had friendly amenities like playgrounds andhis signature line, it said Sierra Landbought a glamping tent and setup a fewour reservation system open and ready. family bathrooms, and a mix of differ- Solutions. I had a pretty good idea thatexample sites so the city staff could getThe efforts were so successful that we ent camping accommodations. Imag- I would need a lot of land solutions foran idea of what our vision would entail.were more than three-quarters full for ine melding an RV park, motel, youtha campground. Miraculously, we were able to navi- our first night open.hostel and city park into one friendly,After an initial call, we setup a meet- gate all those planning obstacles andBuilding this campground has felt like welcoming location. All of the holidaying and thats when the project startedsubmit a comprehensive use permitthe culmination of many adventures. Six parks we stayed in had a warm sense ofgaining traction. To this day, I creditapplication in June 2014. Almost oneyears ago, I stood in the warm Caribbean communityandadventure.ThatisBryanwithopeningmyeyestotheyear to the day from purchasing theSea on yet another wild trip. At that mo-where the seed for the Inn Town Camp- scale and complexity of the project. property, in October 2014, we receivedment, I realized that our job is to not just ground was first planted.From there, it was a matter of gettingfinal planning approval for the project.to experience the worlds most beautiful Iclearlyrememberonemomentall of the information needed for a cityNext, we got to work on the civil andplaces, its also our joband one of the during that trip. At the end of the day, Iuse permit. Bryan developed a site planarchitectural construction plans. Thatgoals of a campgroundto inspire oth-turned to my husband Dan and askedand civil engineering packet. Our archi- process took about six months. We wereers to do just that in our own beautiful him if our children, aged two and five attectrendered3-Ddrawingsforourready for infrastructure work by Junepart of the world and to work to protect the time, would really remember thebuildings. Meanwhile, Dan worked on2015 and building construction by Au- those places.trip. assembling the rest of the informationgust of that year. We hired local contrac- We want to help the next generation No, he said. But they will have afor the conditional use permit. Havingtorsforbothinfrastructureandof adventurers get out and see what this spirit of adventure and the ability tobeen on our towns planning commis- building work.big, diverse world has to offer and to adapt to new places and the curiosity tosion at the time, he knew the use permitAs with any big project, there wereGuest Viewcontinued on page 30explore.Once we moved back to California, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to bring that same sense of oppor-tunity for community, adventure and family-friendly travel to our small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Neither of us were developers, but we both shared a vision for what we wanted to build: a campground with the look and feel of a well-maintained state park, but with the hospitality and amenitiesofthegreatkiwiholiday parks. We wanted it close to town and focused on a sense of community, both at camp and more widely. I had a strong background in hospitality and social media marketing, having taken over ownership of the familys motel busi-ness. Dan had an MBA and a back-groundinbuildingsupply managementandcityplanning.I started envisioning the brand and how to get the word out; he began figuring out how to get it done.The work began in October 2013. From sourcing and buying the property to planning permission and construc-tion, the process of building the camp-groundwasanamazing,and oftentimes, terrifying adventure.WOODALLSCM.comJanuary 2023 29'