Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Building an RV park: We had our Grand Opening!

By Machelle James
The last-minute push was real. We had eight family members come up to help us with one week to spare before opening day. Every day was either digging post holes for fencing, cactus pulling, landscape pick up, debris pick up, raking, moving pallets of concrete bags, moving fence panels, nailing fence panels, installing our sign out front near the highway, digging footers for our new metal sign at the entrance and installing the new sign in the dark with the help of tractor lights.

We had rain, we had heat, we had humidity and we just HAD to keep moving. There was T-shirt inventory to be counted and sorted, picnic tables to be placed in the campsites and Easy Ups to be installed as our Ramada didn’t show up until yesterday (Thursday). We all were on a mission to welcome everyone into our Campground starting July 1st.

Ribbon Cutting with the town Supervisor, Planning and Zoning, Fire Chief and Chamber of Commerce

I can say it was a blur of RVs coming in, one after the other, to visit our new campground and to celebrate the 4th of July weekend events. I think our parents and aunt and uncle were the most excited to see our dream come to fruition. They cried, they laughed, and their fears were gone once we welcomed the happy campers into our Campground. I mean EVERYONE had smiles and hugs to give. We have had our readers/campers come give us wine to congratulate us on our big weekend. We had 37 out of 43 spots rented for at least 4 days. Some were a week long and two are here for 28 days!

We need to get our own golf carts for our 15-acre RV park

Our custom site numbers, made by AJ’S parents

We quickly figured out we will need our own golf carts as we can’t escort our campers to their site if the guys were using it for working. It was a race to see who got to use it and for how long. I think we will be looking for a new one before too long, as it was frantic trying to reach whoever had the cart. Fifteen acres isn’t easy to walk when you are in a hurry!

After day 1, we had a practice run as we had about five arrivals that day and that was easy. Day 2 of opening, it was sending RVs into staging areas to wait for us to come back for the next guest to escort them to their site. I think the most RVs we had waiting were two parked at a time, but there was a steady stream throughout the day. Then, we had two campers call saying they would be late as they broke down on the way up the mountain, and they were super stressed out. They both were able to fix their issues and they came up late at night, exhausted but thankful.

We had a few issues with low-hanging limbs that we cut as the RVs were pulling into their sites. And we had to remove half a tree as everyone kept whacking it as they drove by. We had to move rocks as they were in the way of certain turning ratios. We also are still learning that slide outs on both sides are HUGE. They need sites that have little to no trees. We found out that motorcoaches have air bags and can only have truly level sites. Ours vary from level to I-need-a-tree-stump to level out the RV. Being that we are on a mountain with slopes, some sites are simply more level than others.

Campers went to town for 4th of July celebrations

Jenna and Smokey Bear

Most of our campers went to our town’s two-day party for 4th of July parade and celebrations. It was awesome, as my mothers-in-law (yes, both of them) took Jenna to the park. They saw Smokey Bear and brought home kettle corn and sour candies. Jenna had so much fun, just being a kid again and enjoying the sites and scents of a fair.

Cornhole games next to our check-in area.

On Sunday, we had our own internal parade at the RV park for side x sides, and the families on bicycles followed us all. It was so awesome to see the families waving, celebrating and smiling again. I do believe people are SO READY to have fun again. We followed up with a free lunch and games to play for our campers. Cornhole was a HUGE hit, as well as the Ring Toss.

Everything I could have hoped for an more

People stayed for hours, sitting in their chairs, talking, meeting other families and just making those lost connections again. Two families even discovered they live near each other and their girls quickly became friends.

It was everything I could have hoped for and more. Making memories, making friends, laughter, smiles and having fun. It made my heart so happy.

After we checked everyone out on Monday and Tuesday, I was exhausted – I mean emotionally exhausted. I needed a nap over several days to recover from not just getting the campground open, but the entertaining, the adrenaline we were all running on, the happy endorphins stretched to the max over several days – I just went kaput.

Our next campers at our RV park have arrived

I am happy to report our next weekend campers will start arriving this afternoon (Friday) and I am refreshed and ready to welcome them! Jenna is still learning boundaries and chores, and this can be hard for her. She wants to sit at everyone’s campsite, uninvited. She is having a hard time with the concept of, “These people paid for a campsite. Give them privacy unless invited.”  She said, “But it’s my property and I want to sit over there.”  So that will be a constant work in progress for us all.

We still have signs to install, lights to hang, a few fence panels to hang up and a couple gates to install for the RV park. There are SO many outside people that want to drive around our campground on their own to “take a look” that it is dangerous. We had to implement a NO SELF-GUIDED TOURS sign as we have children playing games in the roads and riding bikes. We also value our campers’ privacy. We’ll give guided tours from now on and, boy, the visitors are resistant to this. Well, guess what? There’s a new campground in town and here we do things our way.

Thank you all for following our Campground Journey – as now, we will be a work in progress.

See You in the Trees, and please leave a comment.

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles 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.

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Judy Hallett
17 days ago

Machelle and AJ, we drove by your RV park on July 3rd on our way to Gallup. Congratulations on your opening!! Looking forward to a time when we can stay at your park and see in person the fruits of your labor. Best wishes for a successful business.

Machelle James
17 days ago
Reply to  Judy Hallett

Hi Judy! I am so glad you were able to see it!! It was packed that weekend and everything went so good! We do hope you will make it out our way again and get to stay here, in the trees!

Jack P
21 days ago

Machelle and AJ, it has been difficult for readers of your adventure, as it certainly has for you, searching for the successes through the obstacles. Such a reward to actually get open by your goal date. I’m sure there is still much to learn and I’m not surprised you have found there are trees, rocks, turns, grades, to remedy. What a learning curve you have had, and will still have as the project changes from construction to maintenance and running an active campground operation. We have followed your project from when you first started writing about it and are pleased to see it has come together. Hopefully we can connect for a stay at the campground sometime in the next year or two.

Machelle James
17 days ago
Reply to  Jack P

Hi Jack! Thank you for the encouragement and the kind words! We look forward to having you see our Campground for yourselves and see all the hard work come to fruition!

chris guenther
23 days ago

Congratulations on your grand opening! I hope to stop by some day. May i suggest you ask your guests to put reviews on various sites like Campgroundreviews.com and google. We use these sites to determine where to stay each night, and reviews are important.

Thanks, and good luck.

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  chris guenther

This is a great idea Chris! I already added to our post checkout survey !!
Thank You for the recommendation!

Diane Mc
23 days ago

Thanks Machelle for sharing your opening with us in great detail. And a big congratulations. You and AJ did it! You should write a how-to book or do a series on YouTube after you come up for air. Did have to laugh at some of your issues (a good laugh) like the tree limbs, trees, rocks/turning radius, unlevel sites & big slide outs & trees. These are the bane of RV’ers, especially the bigger units. I’m sure you will figure it all out. Thank you for taking these issues to heart, you’ll have happier campers who will appreciate it! We were planning on coming to visit on our return trip from Florida, but see you aren’t open until April. Will look for another spot on the calendar. All the best.

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Hi Diane! Awww! I love hearing stories like this! We would be honored to meet you as you have been our cheerleader for a very long time!!!

CajunRVer
23 days ago

Congratulations on your opening and thank you so much for sharing your journey to get there with us. Wishing AJ’s Getaway RV Park much success and prosperity.

Linda
24 days ago

How exciting, and how wonderful that you had such a fabulous opening weekend! I got tired just reading about what all y’all had to be doing day after day! This sounds like your dream has come true! Blessings to all y’all!

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  Linda

Hi Linda! Believe me.. we were so tired, our brains and bodies were fried every night! Getting better every day now!!

Rick Edgar
24 days ago

Congratulations on your opening! Also, that you took the incentive to curtail the drive through locals. There will be more of these decisions in the future. Please continue to look after your guests, their privacy and safety. Hope to visit you someday. Thank you for sharing. Will you have cabins in the future for non RVers?

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  Rick Edgar

Hi Rick! Yes we had some unsavory looky loos and they left in a hurry once we saw them. Our guests privacy are everything and so far, so good!! We are supposed to have cabins in a year or so.. but let’s see how that works out!

Alex
24 days ago

Suggestion: Get an inexpensive electric bicycle instead of a 2nd golf cart. Carts are a maintenance headache.

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  Alex

Hi Alex! I need more room.. laptop, trash bags, seats for escorting to sites for guests… but hey that would be a good idea for security!!

Bill Fisher
24 days ago

Congratulations! Well done! I have enjoyed your journey and look forward to visiting your campground.

Machelle James
23 days ago
Reply to  Bill Fisher

Hi Bill! Thank you so very much for being right there with us! We also look forward to meeting you and having you see our Campground in person!!

Kamwick
24 days ago

Congratulations! Looks like a lovely park. Will definitely come by to visit some time.

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Kamwick

Thank you Kamwick! We would love to meet you when you are in the area! We do think our Campground is lovely too. 😊

Kate
24 days ago

Just looked over the website for the new RV park, The nightly rates are QUITE high, couldn’t find out if they had weekly or monthly rates. Couldn’t book out past the summer months. Is this a seasonal park? Do they get snow there?

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Kate

HI Kate. Well where we live, we are a destination Campground. We have brutal summers in the valley and our Elevation, scenery and unique location to the forest, call for higher costs than the Campground next door where everyone is squished together. That plus having serious privacy with huge sites, being BRAND NEW , being the ONLY non resident, Family Campground in our entire town, I think we are priced just right for the clientele we want to attract.
You can call me if you have any questions as we do offer specials and discounts. 928-433-8060

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I forgot to mention, we are open April 15th ish to October 31st. We only offer stays up to 28 days as to give everyone a chance to camp. And yes, we get snow here in the winter!

Ed D.
24 days ago

I am so happy for you guys. It has been a long journey but you did it! I am also jealous that we were not able to be one of the ones that joined you for the Grand Opening but we will eventually make it out that way! Great job in stopping all of the “unregistered Tourists” that were driving through the Park. That is what “Good Managers” do! They make decisions that are all in the best interest of their guests. Safety First!
I believe that your guests will all be understanding and welcome Jenna on their sites but I also understand your not wanting to have her just arrive, uninvited, on a guests site. As you said that will be a work in progress.
Maybe now that you are open you can rename your articles to something like “Managing and RV Park”, or something like that. We still are anxious to follow your journey and hope your articles don’t stop, now that you are open! It has made for a lot of good reading, to be able to follow your journey. We will definitely “see you in the trees”! Thanks

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! I like how you always find the positive when writing to us! We would absolutely love to have you visit when you are on this side of the country! Let’s see if I get the Headers changed to: The Adventures of Managing a New RV Park!
Thanks for your continued support ED!!

Ed D.
24 days ago
Reply to  Machelle James

You are more than welcome. Thanks for always taking the time to respond. I know that “time” is something there is never enough of if you have a deadline!

littleleftie
24 days ago

Wow! It’s been a long haul for you guys, which I have thoroughly enjoyed following. May all the years to come be filled with happy memories, and may all of your sites be filled with happy campers. Congratulations on a hard-fought journey. Keep updating us—our interest isn’t over now that you have opened!

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  littleleftie

Thanks Littleleftie! That is our goal, making memories and having happy campers! I’ll keep writing as long as I’m able to with Chuck and Diane’s support!!

Joe Allen
24 days ago

Our best for you and your families! Owning your own business comes with its perks and quirks, it’s tears and smiles! We have enjoyed your adventures and so glad it turned out to be a huge success. We are seeing the same here with the influx of huge crowds in Yellowstone NP. We too will be relieved when it settles down come September, October. Wishing you a successful season’s to come and congratulations again!

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Hi Joe! That is very accurate. Tears and smiles. Stress and relaxation. Learning to balance the business with our personal life will take time to get into a pattern. Thank you for your support and well wishes. 🙏

Donald Schneider
24 days ago

C O N G R A T U L A T I O NS!!!! YOU DID IT!!! Thanks so much for sharing your story from start to opening. Please keep up the stories as a lot of people have no idea what it takes to build and run an RV park. It is a LOT of work every day so take care of yourselves also.

Machelle James
24 days ago

Hi Donald! I agree. Now the Business side and daily life of a Campground owner will be more of my writing. I will take care of myself as I do know my boundaries so I can be my best version of myself. Thank you for your continued support and rootin’ for us for so long!

Chuck Bonelli
24 days ago

Congratulations! Sure hope you keep up the articles with stories of success, growing pains and adventures.

Machelle James
24 days ago
Reply to  Chuck Bonelli

Hi Chuck! I hope I can keep you all informed as well. I am sure we will have entertaining stories to share with us being Campground Owners! Thank you for the well wishes!

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