By Machelle James
Oh boy. Our campground decisions seem to be changing on a daily basis. We had to make a tough decision last week. Our General Contractor probably thinks we’re crazy and our loan officer needed a moment to digest what I was telling her.
We have a very old, 2-bedroom, 1-bath cabin on our land that needs a total gut job. After getting quotes on how much it would be to renovate it from roof to foundation, it was just as much as a new home!
I called my new Planning and Zoning buddies to get the scoop on the process of putting a new home on the property. I can put in a 3-bed, 2-bath home on this parcel. After calling our friends and family for advice on what to do, we made a decision. Our family and friends want to help us restore the cabin. After they saw the photos on how beautiful the log beams were, they said cabins aren’t made this way anymore. Well, at least not at an affordable price! So we decided next weekend to visit the property. The guys will get under the house, see the damage and put a plan in place to fix the sinking beams. This cabin will be used as our check-in area, storage and store front.
Other developing news is I am making connections and relationships with the local folks living there. I joined a local Facebook page and started talking to the nicest people that live there full time. One person messaged me to let me know there is a heavy presence of retired police and fire folks up there. He said they all ride off-road vehicles and would love to show us the trails. I told this gentleman about our campground and he said he would introduce us to his group. It seems most of them would like to volunteer their time once a month to take our special kiddos on trail rides! I could not believe the good news I was hearing! It seems the right people are being placed in our lives to guide us through our campground vision.
We are at a standstill now as we haven’t sold our house as of this writing. As soon as we do, we will have our Engineering team draw up our official preliminary campground. Planning and Zoning had us draw up a conceptual plan to present to their team. We drew up 28 full-hookup spots and 18 dry-camping spots. We added two huge ramadas with a BBQ area at each location. We also will have a community fire pit as well as individual fire pits for each spot. A shower area, small laundry, playground and community center will be offered as well.
We also are going to take an owners’ campground course through ARVC (The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds) to make sure we are being efficient and up to date with trends, laws and liability.
We still need to make a decision on offering discounts. Everyone likes to feel like they are getting a good deal. We want to offer a fair deal right from the get-go. No surge pricing for holidays, but a 3-night minimum. Weekly discounts we will offer. We will not have long-term guests at this point. We are so small that we want everyone an opportunity to come visit us. Veteran discounts will apply since we are a Military family.
Since we are a small RV campground, I am a big believer of heavy social media to get our name out there. We do have a great marketing team to embed our tags on the internet and have our name pop up in search engines. As of today, we will join RVparky.com and other popular phone apps. Will this be enough for us? We don’t know. Year one will tell us if we need to pay for Good Sam, Passport America or AAA pricing.
All of our funds are coming from profits from our home and a commercial loan, so we need to keep costs manageable. We just learned a 6-foot-tall concrete block fence will be at least $150,000 for 1000 feet! We only want this type of fencing on one side as it is on the noisy highway side. So there will need to be a phase 1, 2 and 3. We have an estimate of $800,000 to $1,000,000 to open the campground. That is probably why most regular folks don’t open an RV park. It’s dang expensive! We know it will be worth it in 5 years though. So we plug along to make it happen.
I am most excited to make this campground reflect what we like to do in our personal lives: smoking BBQ cook offs, off-roading, craft breweries and wineries showcasing their specialties, as well as children’s activities, parades and other family activities.
We are all having FUN at our campground. So if you like to have fun as well, come join us in our RV journey. We would love to meet you!
Until next time, see you in the trees! And please leave a comment.
Read the last post, “Building an RV park: Why we decided to ‘go for it’,” here.
Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.