The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) is neither “exiting ARVC” nor even “testing the waters” but instead is serving its members in the best way it can by altering its membership with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
That’s how Brian Schaeffer, TACO executive director, put it during a follow-up conversation this week with Woodall’s Campground Management in explaining why TACO’s board decided to cease being a fully affiliated member of ARVC and opted for cooperative status.
This means that TACO will stop collecting ARVC dues on behalf of all of its membership and remitting it to ARVC. Instead, its 386 members – who up to now were automatic ARVC members each year they renewed their TACO dues – will be free to pay their ARVC dues separately from their TACO dues. Or not.
Schaeffer notified ARVC CEO Linda Profaizer in late October of TACO’s decision.
The dues issue was brewing for more than a year, ever since ARVC announced the increase in 2007, to take effect in 2009. The $50 hike puts dues on a sliding scale between $135 and $458.
“We tried twice to discuss with ARVC the possibility of phasing in the increase over a couple of years,” said Schaeffer. “They were not warm to the idea.”
TACO, which is among the top three states in terms of number of campgrounds and campsites among all ARVC member states, surveyed its members this year, he said, and learned these priorities:

  • The No. 1 concern was governmental affairs. “They wanted us to be more involved on the state level,” he said.
  • No. 2, they wanted a PR campaign that focused on Texas that would benefit them.
  • “ARVC programs were on their list of concerns but were rated lower,” he said.
    The TACO board subsequently voted on an action plan, but all of those actions, combined with the ARVC increase, “left our budget way upside down,” he said. TACO paid ARVC $56,000 in 2008 and would have paid a minimum of $76,000 in 2009, Schaeffer estimated.
    The board then decided to fall back to the cooperating status with ARVC for a year and let its members decide on their own whether to pay ARVC dues, he said.
    TACO’s decision was not a secret kept from its membership, he said, and neither is it correct to suggest that “we hoodwinked our members. That’s not what happened.”
    Schaeffer’s letter to Profaizer at the end of October “set off a firestorm of meetings” before and during the InSites convention, Schaeffer noted.
    Ultimately, TACO was granted its request to hold cooperative status with ARVC for a year, starting in 2009.
    “We didn’t do this with any idea of setting off a chain reaction,” said Schaeffer, while conceding that TACO’s move prompted a lot of talk at InSites.
    Large states such as Texas are asking what is the benefit package from ARVC membership since they already provide many of the benefits and services to their own members that ARVC offers, he said,
    Meanwhile, the TACO decision has thrust Schaeffer into a tenuous position with ARVC, as his advertising agency handles banner advertising sales for ARVC’s gocampingamerica website.
    Profaizer told WCM that the matter has not been totally resolved. She said she got the impression “through our discussions with TACO, they don’t want to drop out of the association. They still want to be full members.”
    She said she understood the TACO decision was designed to make up for a budget shortfall, and that the move to “cooperating” status might be a “one-year deal.”
    “I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to (be full members). The benefits are there, if they want to be on the gocampingamerica website, they definitely will come.”
    TACO has invited ARVC executives to its Jan. 14 board meeting in Texas to further discuss the issue. Schaeffer stressed that TACO remains a fully affiliated ARVC member through the end of January. The ARVC dues statements are going out this month to TACO members, he said.