After facing months of being closed or conducting only limited operations as a result of the Coronavirus, many ARVC member-parks have arrived at the day they’ve been waiting for – the re-opening of their parks for the summer season. But, of course, this re-opening will be unlike any others from past seasons because of the additional planning required and new procedures that need to be put into place.
To help campground and park owners navigate this uncharted territory, ARVC collaborated with Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the Canadian RV Association (CVA), Marshall & Sterling Insurance, state associations and other industry partners to create a comprehensive Re-Opening Tool Kit. The kit is a natural extension of the eight-week webinar series ARVC launched in March which helped more than 1,000 campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada navigate the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The toolkit contains a range of valuable resources, including CDC guidelines for the workplace for re-opening, a suggested phased re-opening for RV parks and campgrounds, a guide to marketing campgrounds during a crisis, sample cancellation and refund policies and more.
The re-opening guidelines offer park owners a flexible starting point for creating a plan that will meet the unique needs of their park. The first phase of the three-phase guidelines covers factors to consider involving general campground operations such as reservations, check-in/check-out, social distancing and guest communications. It also covers topics such as bath houses and restrooms, the camp store, guest services, recreation and activities and employee management. Phases two and three build upon each of these operational elements.
Tim Deputy, general manager of ARVC member-park Myrtle Beach Travel Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., took advantage of the webinar series and started his park’s re-opening plan early.
“The Re-Opening Tool Kit was a great asset to ensure that we used a logical approach and didn’t overlook anything,” he says.
He used the information provided in the toolkit to help implement key changes at his park.
“In addition to posting information on our website, we communicated to every reservation, before their arrival, about what we were doing to mitigate their risks while they’re at the park. We are following the CDC’s recommendations, including social distancing and requiring masks in all common areas. Our guests are able to reserve sessions in the pool area through Eventbrite so that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy that facility under restricted occupancy. Our rentals, bathhouses and common buildings are professionally sanitized. Our guests have expressed their gratitude for the efforts that are being made by the team on their behalf. They are just happy to be here!”
Gary Quigley, owner of ARVC member-park Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Kozy Rest in Harrisville, Pa., says he loved the ARVC webinars and appreciated having the toolkit to reference for re-opening ideas. As he was getting ready to re-open his park on May 1, he also experienced the pent-up demand of campers who were eager to get back outdoors and enjoy camping once again. The campground’s phone rang off the hook in the days prior to the re-opening and they nearly sold out in just three hours.
There were changes that needed to be made, of course. Initially, employees and guests were encouraged to wear masks. Almost all of the park’s facilities and amenities are now open with an additional sanitizing schedule. The recreation hall remains closed to eliminate the possibility of having too many guests in a small space, and the park’s wagon and fire truck rides are still not operating for the same reason, but there are plenty of activities guests can enjoy that meet the recommended standards for social distancing. A list of what’s open and what’s closed is posted on the park’s website along with the welcoming message, “We are open and having a blast! Time to get out and come finally have fun!!!”
Whether your park has already re-opened or you’re still in the planning stages, visit arvc.org for regular updates on the Coronavirus and to find helpful resources you can use for guidance.