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.
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
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
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.
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.