By Machelle James
WOW! What an amazing past two weeks we’ve had! As we navigate the transition from building a campground to actually operating a campground, it is quite eye-opening. We are still learning the reservation system, how to give refunds, camp credit, and even helping our campers set up their campers. We’ve had two females that were brand-new to camping stay here. They both had smaller RVs and they pulled them up the hill with no problems.
We, of course, had to help them unwrap their brand-new septic hoses and teach them how to attach them to the septic lines. We also have the joy of teaching all the campers that we are on a septic system and they cannot flush any feminine hygiene products down the toilet as they will clog the lines! Many people who stay here have never experienced a septic system before and we have to explain the rules/guidelines to them.
We have met so many wonderful people at our RV park
We have met so many wonderful people from not only our state, but Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Nevada. They are so excited to get here and to have privacy when camping! We are still having an issue with people who want to take their own tour of the campground, but we do not like that approach. We want to make sure we know who is driving through our campground and making sure they are going the right way as well as answering any questions they have. I had to make a huge sign for the potential guests to call us for tours. It is helping somewhat with the curiosity factor.
Monsoons have arrived
Our first monsoon rainstorms came through over the past two weeks and they are still coming through this week. I am happy to report that our drainage system is working beautifully. We did discover some low spots where the water pools, but it is manageable and we will fill the low spots in with more gravel.
We FINALLY received our Ramada, and AJ and Alan helped install it over three days. It looks SO nice in that buddy spot that we know it will soon be our most popular site!
You cannot please everyone
While 99% of those that stay here are FANTASTIC – it is that 1% that riles you up. We have been taught to not let the 1% ruin it for the 99% of fabulous campers, so we do talk about it and let it go. One very new-looking 5th wheel came in and the gentleman asked where the public bathrooms are. Well, we do not have public bathrooms. That is stated in our rules and on our website. And when I am making reservations, I let them know. He let us know he was NOT happy having to use his own bathroom. I just don’t understand that mentality. I would SO MUCH rather use my own facilities than a public bathroom! He let us know in his checkout survey that he didn’t like that there were no public bathrooms, no high-speed Wi-Fi, and our campground was too dark.
Well, we are happy to say that our Wi-Fi guy is here now with repeaters. So far, Starlink is working throughout the campground AND at high speed! We have added lights to the top of our number signs at each site and it illuminates the streets beautifully. I have added solar lights to the roadway entrances, and this helps illuminate the roads as well.
A lot of guests want to store their RVs in our RV park
We are learning that A LOT of our guests want to store their RVs here in our storage area when they leave. They like the ease of making reservations when they are available and pull directly into their spot when they get here. I am really liking this idea as we have multiple reservations for our guests to come back up at their convenience. We haven’t been full yet since our Grand Opening, but it is steady and getting better every week. I think once the word gets out about our site sizes, the trails right outside our property and being Family Friendly, we will be full in no time.
Networking with fellow RV park owners is important
What else we are learning is that networking with your fellow RV park owners is so important for several reasons. First, our campers are short-term vacationers looking for a place to go to get out of the heat or a stopover between long hauls. This is where the other RV parks who get calls for overnight camping come into play.
I met the new owner of the RV park down the highway and he came by and took a tour. It was wonderful to meet him as we have two completely different sets of clientele. His park is for full-timers and maybe a few overnight spaces. He has been sending his overnighters our way and we have been sending him the guests that want to live up here for 6 months. Same goes for the other RV parks in the area. It has been a mutual relationship of referrals and so far it has been working out very nicely.
I look forward to checking on the arrivals and departures at our RV park
Waking up and pulling the day’s reports on who is coming in and who is departing is something I look forward to. There is also an area for notes that I pull for those coming in that have a Birthday or Anniversary and make sure we recognize their special day. I haven’t messed up too badly yet with our reservation system. The only thing we need to stay on top of is departure times. We get caught up in the pulling weeds, raking or whatever our chore is for a site and forget to make sure the guest is packed up and rolling out.
Interesting phone call from our Fire Chief
We had an interesting phone call from our Fire Chief a week ago. He was helping a lady who had a flat tire out on a busy highway. He called me and said we needed to go help her as she was one of our guests. Well, of course, AJ and Alan went out to help her fix her flat tire and she was SUPER thankful. We always heard we would be a jack-of-all-trades and BOY is that right! She also clogged her septic tank and THAT was a “joy” for those two guys to unclog her toilet before she left it in storage. Again, educating our guests is a priority as they will come back and not feel embarrassed as we help them learn the ropes of RV camping.
We received the sweetest gifts of homemade t-shirts, towels and a bag from one of our campers. They say, “See You in the Trees”! We are SO thankful to have met the kindest campers you could hope for. It made my heart full to know there are people out there who relate to our story and cheer us on from the sidelines.
Jenna likes her new school
We are pleased that we found a new school for Jenna as she was having a hard time with boundaries with our campers. I believe she was so lonely for friends that she couldn’t help herself when other kids came to the campground. Now I think she is finding that she isn’t so aggressive when other kids are around. We are super proud of her and her learning what she can and can’t do when other kids are here. Heck, we are all still learning. But we, as her Mom and Dad, are truly enjoying seeing this side of Jenna.
I hope as the weeks go on, we will keep finding our groove to find balance in our personal and professional life.
Thank You for following our Campground journey and 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.