Woodall’s Campground Management has begun a monthly survey of park owners and operators across the country to find out on a regular basis what you think about a given topic. We are doing it by e-mail, hoping you can respond and elaborate with your thoughts. We survey a different group of owners and operators on different topics each month.
This month’s question is: Are playgrounds worth the investment either in an immediate or long-term sense?” Please explain why or why not.
Bob Little, Flamingo Lake RV Resort, Jacksonville, Fla.:
Investing in playground equipment certainly pays off in a park with a high percentage of children under 12 years of age. It seems that children 12 and older want something else to do, i.e. video games, water attractions, etc. However, parks with an older population appreciate the amenity for their children/grandchildren when visiting.
William D. Green, Waffle Farm Campground, Coldwater, Mich.:
We at Waffle Farm Campgrounds strongly believe that playgrounds are worth the investment. We receive several phone calls and e-mails regarding the amenities offered at our facility – many of which ask, ‘Does your campground have a playground?’ We have a few playgrounds on site, and they are worth every penny. Ensuring that our guests can enjoy some quality family time together is what matters most.
Cathy Reinard, Copake KOA, Copake, N.Y.:
My answer would be honestly it depends on the following factors: How much is the playground going to cost and does you park attract a lot of families with children. If you are a park that attracts a lot of families, you have to have a decent playground whether it is cost effective or not. Because we have not had the funds to buy a really expensive playground, we have gone the route of buying a few stand-alone commercial pieces every year. We also actively watch eBay and craigslist for used or discontinued pieces of commercial grade equipment that we can purchase and install. Sadly I do not believe the average camper with children who expects a great playground has any idea what they cost. I often say, that as with most things, campers don’t have any idea what the real expense is. I find if I tell customers, yes that is on our wish list but it costs X amount of dollars, they often say to me, “I had no idea that was so expensive.” I do wish some company would develop a $15,000 playground that more parks could afford.
Ron and Sherry VanFleet, Alps Family Campground, Averill Park, N.Y.:
We believe that playgrounds are a very worthwhile investment both short- and long-term, for a campground catering to families. They provide hours of entertainment and exercise for the kids, and ease the burden on parents of trying to keep the kids occupied. We have two playgrounds, one designated for tots (6 years and under) and another for the bigger kids. The tots’ playground is enclosed with a picket fence to help the kids from wandering. Also adult supervision is required. The other playground also serves as a social center for the older kids. Both playgrounds are used heavily and have proven to be an attraction, for our prospective guests.