Building an RV park: I see roads! And funding is finally on the way!

10

By Machelle James
I can see it. I can FINALLY see what the Campground is going to look like. We had Tractor Tim come through and plow our shrubs down and I can see how the roads will flow. We are making some adjustments as we do not want to knock down our beautiful pine trees if at all possible. By doing this, the roads may be a little wavy so we can keep the trees and a couple sites may need to be a little bit shorter to keep the trees where they are. We will keep those spots reserved for shorter RVs.

We also are going to need to reconfigure our largest corral camping site. The road for this circle goes directly into another set of trees and I just can’t bear to cut them down. So now we are looking into “buddy” spots where you can park either 2 RVs across from each other OR a 4-camper corral, where it will be more of a square site. We think it will pay off in the end to keep the pine trees and make the corrals more intimate.

We will have to reach back out to our Engineer for the turning ratios and how to reconfigure the sites to make the roads move to the areas that do not have trees. What we have learned is that on paper, everything looks good and has an even flow. But when you start tearing things down, you can see that being flexible and moving sites around is necessary to keep the natural beauty of the land.

We also are deciding on what pattern of wood panels we want on the highway side and on our entrance side of the road. It’s about 1200 feet long on one side and 750 feet long on the other. We will be making our own panels for this project and I don’t want a boring fence. We also don’t have an unlimited budget for this so we are scouting Pinterest for ideas. Well, as all of you who use Pinterest know, it sucks you into other ideas and suggestions and before you know it, you are totally off your research. But, hey, at least you found out how to make tables out of old wooden spools and turn tree stumps into tables or a fairy garden (true story!).

Jenna at the burned-down house we found

Jenna and I took off for a day ride with some of our neighbors. We rode in our Can Am for 5 hours while exploring the lookout towers and an old burned down rock home – and seeing the wild horses made our day! I am feeling kind of sad for Jenna, as she is stuck here with us with no place to go since her school is closed. She is going through emotions that I think most kids are with being stuck at home: anger, restlessness, loneliness and boredom. Thankfully, with technology, she is able to Zoom with her friends and family. This really does help her connect to the outside world.

Jenna does help us pick up pine cones, water our garden and do some household chores. But for her, manual labor of picking up tree stumps or heavy items isn’t an option. I will say she likes to greet the contractors that come here to work. She is and will be part of the Welcome Committee when we open up!

I am super excited to share that tonight (Wednesday) I am fortunate enough to have a live interview with Alan Warren from The RV Show USA. I met Alan through Chuck Woodbury here at RVtravel.com. These two gentlemen have been so gracious as to open the doors for us to share our story of building a Campground from scratch in a written and visual platform. I have been messaged countless times from other folks on asking us to mentor them on how to start their own Campground journey. It is by far the most fascinating and frustrating business adventure we have been on. I think once we get this figured out and learn how this process works, we will need to write a step-by-step book.

I will also add that we had a phone meeting with our bank this morning and we are supposed to get a Letter of Commitment tomorrow! First we received a Letter of Intent, and the next step is this Letter of Commitment. So, how an SBA loan works is you have to provide your business plan and your site plan. Mind you, your business plan needs to be very detailed, very thorough and with no mistakes. AJ is the numbers guy and he put together our financials, wrote out the details and submitted a 21-page report.

Your business plan is the KEY to getting a loan. It is very normal for banks to turn you down as your business may not be one they are comfortable working with. The hard part is you just keep networking or have a broker that can work for you to find a bank that sees your Vision and wants to work with you. We have been turned down by at least 5 banks as they do not work with our type of business OR they do not like that we are new to becoming business owners. We do not have a proven track record yet. What I think is our saving grace is that we have excellent credit and there is a need for this type of business in our area.

Once we receive the Letter of Commitment, then we go to Underwriting to give them all the information they need. After that, we should get our funds in about 30 days! I cannot tell you what a weight off our shoulders this is! I feel elated, relieved and ecstatic all at once!! It’s finally happening!

Thank you all for following our Campground journey. Please leave a comment and See You in the Trees!

Machelle, AJ 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.

##RVT959

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Erik
10 days ago

You guys are totally awesome. I know very few people that would ever entertain the idea of manufacturing such a project. And the stress level for some of this adventure must have been mind numbing. I will continue to follow you on your adventure and wish you nothing but the best of luck & the grace of God.
Thanks so much for sharing, your family is truly inspirational.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Erik

Thank you so much for your support and kind words Erik! It is definitely a roller coaster of emotions! Daily ups and downs! We are learning to have extreme patience and also to discuss everything with each other. Communication, Trust and Faith will get us through this! 🙏🙏🙏

Joe F.
10 days ago

I always look forward to reading your progress on building your RV park. We have friends in Tucson and Prescott. Hope to stay with you one of these days. Admire your perseverance dealing with all the bureaucracy! Good luck from So Cal.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe F.

Thank you Joe for your support! We would love to have you as a guest! Please keep following for when we open and come visit us in the trees!

Suru
11 days ago

I would really rethink the “buddy” sites. I just stayed at a private park with two sites facing each other (our trailer doors faced each other) and shared the grassy area between the sites. Awkward! It would be ok if you were camping with a friend, but think how that will limit those sites. No one who is camping alone will want to share space with the neighbor and you might have a hard time filling those sites up. We moved to a small back in site without hookups because the other people were in their site first and they pretty much took over the entire grassy area and both picnic tables. Like I said it was very awkward and I could tell the other people were bummed that we were moving in & happy when we moved out. Trees are nice, but if it limits your options and encourages possibly bad reviews about your campground, I guess you have to determine if they are worth keeping. Just an observation from a frequent camper. Glad things are moving forward for you!

Machelle James
11 days ago
Reply to  Suru

Hi Suru! Thats good feedback!
We have polled many of our future guests and this was a HUGE request. We are an off road friendly campground and most of our guests will have friends to camp and ride with. We are limiting this option to only a few sites. If it doesn’t work out, we can always place a fence between them!

Tom
12 days ago

You Go, Girl!

Machelle James
12 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Thank you Tom!! 👏👏👏

BARRY MOSS
12 days ago

Wow, best of luck and I wish you great success as you go through this journey. Maybe in time my wife and I will be able to stay at your location in the future. I just had approximately 20 acres of my fifty where we live logged of all the pine as it was over 30 years old and some were dying so decided to get a little money out of it while we could. Your story sort of put my imagination to work and I am thinking what if we could do this? Great story!

Machelle James
12 days ago
Reply to  BARRY MOSS

Hi Barry! Thank you for kind words and support! I would say if you have easy access to utilities, and zoning isn’t an issue, definitely explore this option. This is probably the new way to vacation with social distancing rules in place. I’d start with ARVC.org –
Prospective Campground Owners online meetings. That can give you a realistic view on you, your land, and finances. Good Luck!