CAMP President Rick Abare of Maine and his wife, Gayle

CAMP President Rick Abare of Maine and his wife, Gayle

Advocacy. Education. Marketing. It’s essentially the code of honor for Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP) and something newly elected president Rick Abare takes seriously.

Abare, who is also executive director of the Maine Campground Owners Association (MECOA) in Lewiston, Maine, says he is honored by his new position with CAMP.

“I am very happy and humbled at the concept that these executive directors who make up our organization think they would like me to lead their organization,” he said. “I am pleased to be asked to do it and I look forward to my tenure as president. The shoes will be hard to fill as Deb Carter was a wonderful president.”

Carter, previous CAMP president for two years, is executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC) and now also CAMP representative to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC ) board.

“Rick was elected by a unanimous vote of his peers at Insites 2009 in Orlando,” Carter said. “He hit the ground running. He began running the CAMP meeting the very next day. He is brilliant and challenging.”

Founded in 1991, CAMP provides state executive directors and a few association leaders the opportunity to meet with peers from across the U.S. and Canada. CAMP officials spend time with the ARVC Leadership, participate in joint sessions with the Council of Delegates, receive updates from industry partners, listen to CPO approved classes and discuss what is working and what is not with state associations.

The projects that Abare and his team are working on include a CAMP Impact & Partnership Award, CAMP Scholarship Award, upkeep and improvements to the CAMP website www.campgroundexecs.org and working on a template report for state executives to use to help make better use of meeting times.

CAMP logoAbare first started attending CAMP meetings many years ago when he was president of the Vermont Campground Association.

“That allowed me to go to CAMP meetings and learn more about what other association executives were doing to make their associations better, more responsive to their members,” he said. “We have many very strong campground associations in CAMP. I’m always trying to find out what it is I need to be doing to make my association better, but it’s at CAMP that I hone my skills and find those things that are most important to campground owners’ associations. CAMP reels us in and gives us a perspective that is nationwide.”

CAMP largely focuses on three things – marketing for its members, advocating for members and educating members.

At the CAMP meeting at the ARVC InSites convention, Abare said one of the issues discussed concerned membership.

“We have been questioning for some time whether or not associations, and this is true of many associations, can exist and do the best job possible if they are serving more than one kind of member,” he explained. “ARVC is facing the issue of whether or not it should be an association of affiliated states or of individual members. CAMP has been asking ARVC to come up with a clarification of how to handle this as we move forward and ARVC is working on it.”

This issue concerns CAMP as an association as well.

“Is CAMP an association of campground associations or are we an association of people who manage campground associations,” Abare said. “I don’t see any of this as a problem, but an opportune time to define who CAMP is reaching out to as members. The goal remains the same and that is to help make campground owners more successful through participation in their state and national associations.”

Other CAMP officers for the next year are Vice President Lori Severson, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campgrounds Owners (WACO); Treasurer Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC); and Secretary Cyndy Zbierski, executive assistant of the  Northeast Campground Association (NCA).

This year CAMP members attended the first ever CAMP College – a full day of educational sessions taught by nationally recognized association management educators and leaders, sponsored wholly by Evergreen Insurance. The second annual CAMP College is set for April 26 in College Park, Md.