Nearly 100 campground managers and owners from throughout the Carolinas are meeting at Lakewood Camping Resort Conference Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., this week to talk about the status of their industry and the latest trends, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News.
At least 84 campground owners and managers have registered to attend the 2010 annual membership meeting and trade show for the Carolinas Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, Lakewood officials said. The nonprofit organization is based in Garner, N.C., near Raleigh. The conference started Sunday and runs through Tuesday.
About 10 campgrounds that dot the Grand Strand, including several along the ocean and Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach state parks, each have their own beaches.
Lou Jane Chestnut said she and husband, Tim, have owned Big Cypress Lake RV/Fishing Retreat in Conway, S.C., for about 12 years. Their nature preserve spans more than 10 acres along a lake.
She spoke with The Sun News and assessed the camping industry’s overall objectives and amenities.
How is the business, including yours, faring during this recession?
Overall, business is going pretty well. It’s slowed a little bit. Still, people are tired of staying at home. We have people from the Carolinas, Virginia and from up North. They’re Snow Birds, from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. That’s basically my customers. And all of them don’t want to stay in the larger campgrounds. I have a lot of retirees and quiet people.
What noticeable trends have you seen in your field, what type of vehicle is most common?
A lot of people live in their motorhomes and fifth-wheelers. They’re full-timers. Usually, it’s plain mom-and-pop, pull-behind campers. Those are more affordable. I do have a lot of motorhome people and fifth-wheel RVs.
How do campgrounds remain visible as alternatives for budget-conscious travelers, especially in these down economic times?
Advertising is key, and of course, word of mouth. You have to have good rates. You try to maintain good, affordable rates. I cater to many people by the month. That’s what makes me different for other seasonal campers.
What’s a main attraction of campgrounds for vacationers?
Here, the No. 1 thing to do is peace and quiet, with not a lot happening. They like to bird watch, sit in front of the water and there’s a walking trail around the lake.
What’s a hidden treasure of campgrounds?
All of a sudden, once you come here and once you experience the quietness, you’re drawn to it. For a lot of people, that’s an unexpected thing. They don’t realize how rushed they are in their lives. It’s so quiet. They realize that their blood pressure is lower, that all of a sudden, they feel more calm. The slower pace is the hidden treasure in camping.
What do you notice about your guests as they unwind in the arms of Mother Nature?
We have two little fishing decks that jut out into the water. People just like to sit in the sunshine and look in the water. They look at their watch and they realize they’ve been sitting there for three hours. We don’t realize what it’s like to relax anymore.