Editor’s note: Mary Arlington wrote this article for WOODALLSCM.com.
“For Auld Lang Syne” is a New Year’s Eve tradition, yet this year the Kansas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Kansas ARVC) has reflected on its rich memories twice in recent times.
Most recently, Sheila and Keith Wagner, owners of USI RV Park in Wichita, sold their business and are taking their first steps out of the outdoor hospitality industry in, virtually, their lifetime. They’re second-generation owners and operators.
Earlier in the year, Kansas ARVC bid farewell to Darell and Carolyn Fenn, owners of Four Seasons RV Acres in Abilene, who sold their RV park mid-summer (while keeping their RV dealership).
Until these sales, for nearly 20 years Executive Director Mary Arlington and the other members hadn’t known a day in Kansas ARVC without these four people. When Arlington bought her RV park, the Wagners and Fenns were already fully involved in the association.
“Keith was elected to treasurer at my first membership meeting all those years ago,” she remembers. “In that role, he introduced Kansas ARVC to electronic bookkeeping, which I’m still using today.”
“Until the respective sales, Sheila was serving as president and Carolyn was serving as treasurer,” noted Karen Weber, president of the association and owner of Mid-America Camp Inn. “Over the years, these individuals have worn many leadership hats. Where we’ve been and what we’ve achieved is largely because of our dedicated leaders, and the Fenns and Wagners are listed in countless minutes, records, and programs in our files. Generous with their time and energy, our leaders are our guiding force.”
Whether we were staffing booths at RV shows, huddled in meeting rooms around the state, or ferrying across from the Savannah Convention Center at a national conference, friendship and work blended beautifully.
“The Wagners saved the association considerable travel costs by hosting me when my travels took me to Wichita, a frequent location for industry events and even our own association meetings,” explained Arlington. “I remember sleeping in the back of my van at their RV park. More recently, they’d moved off-site and I was given my own bedroom. I was also always well-fed, and that also reduced the association on its expenses. The things we’ve done to achieve the most work on behalf of the association within budget.”
The Fenns have hosted the last five annual membership business meetings at their central Kansas location.
“Carolyn worked tirelessly each year, often starting days earlier since sometimes she personally provided our event’s meals,” said Arlington. “The Fenns saved us on travel expenses by hosting me in an RV or even in their own home for our Abilene events. I remember driving from meetings in Topeka back to my park in northwest Kansas and I’d pull into their place to change out of my suit and into comfortable travel attire. They welcomed me for five-minute pit stops and overnight stays; whatever was needed, always with a warm hug and a big smile.”
Arlington visited with Kelly McKenzie. She and her husband Bud purchased the park from the Fenns.
“Carolyn told us the McKenzies were eager to be involved in the industry and my visit with Kelly confirmed that” she said. “I see a strong, supportive and active member in them as soon as they get their bearings with their new business.”
Terri Schwerdt, of the Salina Kampgrounds of America Holiday, was appointed to fill the vacancy after Carolyn’s park sold. Secretary Richard Lord, of Rutlader Outpost RV Park, stepped up to fill her role as treasurer.
Lord is grateful for the service of all four members saying, “As a newer member of Kansas ARVC and its Board, I have truly appreciated Sheila’s leadership and her steady approach, especially in the unprecedented year of 2020. She has tirelessly given of her time and resources for the betterment of our organization. We’re extremely grateful for her many contributions and wish her and Keith the best in their future endeavors.”
Schwerdt, a newcomer to the Board, feels the four showed the association how to pull together. She says, “What the Fenns and Wagners did with us is what it takes to make a difference in our industry. We appreciate their decades of service! They leave behind big shoes to fill and I know our members have been shown how to fill them.”
Arlington notes that the organization remains in compliance with its bylaws, and the regular election will occur at its Feb. 23 meeting.
On behalf of the entire membership, the Kansas ARVC Board of Directors praises the work of the Fenns and Wagners, applauds them for being dedicated to us, and wishes them God speed on all which lies ahead for them. “For Auld Lang Syne”