The members of the Jaycock family are lifelong campers but, with a home in south Etobicoke, Ontario, and two high-powered corporate jobs, it wasn’t something they enjoyed as much as they wanted — until they got the idea to buy a campground, according to the Sentinel-Review.
That’s how the family – Mark, Melanie and son James – came to own the Willow Lake Campground and RV Park, which recently won two provincial awards for customer service.
“It was March 3, 2017. We showed up in a truck with a trailer and kayaks on top and bikes on the back in the middle of a snow storm,” Melanie Jaycock said of their first night as new owners.
Owning the Willow Lake campground originally started with thinking about what they’d do when they semi-retired from corporate life. Melanie worked for LinkedIn while Mark was in human resources for Lowes Canada.
They had been thinking about a small town and, with their backgrounds as lifelong campers, owning a campground of their own seemed to click. They closed on the property in 2017, years sooner than they’d planned to make the change, but the right property came up at the right time.
“Because we were campers and knew we were going down this path before buying, everywhere we went, we talked to owners and saw things we loved,” Melanie said.
Those features included a game room, a DVD-borrowing “library” for those rainy days and a campstore stocked with local products.
The campground is more than 80 years old. Before it was a campground, it was a picnic park and, before that, a cheese making property, Mark said.
There’s been a learning curve with running the campground, Melanie and Mark agreed.
“The first summer actually felt easy because we didn’t know what we were doing,” Mark said with a laugh. “It was the second summer, (when) we had a clue, and it got tougher.”
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