Kitty Winship Co-Owner of Papoose Pond Family Campground & Cabins in Waterford, Maine

Leadership Profile: Kitty Winship

Kitty Strauss Winship, OHP

Co-Owner, Papoose Pond Family Campground & Cabins, Waterford, Maine
Member, ARVC Board of Directors
President and Education Committee Chair, Maine Campground Owners Association (MECOA)
Treasurer and Scholarship Fund Committee Member, Northeast Campground Association (NCA)
Founding Member, ARVC 20 Group V

How did you get started in the campground industry?

My parents, Herb and Lois Strauss, bought our campground in 1982 before I was born and so I was basically born into the campground world. Both of my parents were very active in the industry, so growing up, we would go to conventions and all of the meetings. My Dad was on the MECOA, NCA and ARVC boards at various times throughout my childhood so I just grew up being surrounded by all of these influential campground owners who were really involved in the industry and on the cutting edge of whatever the campground industry was doing at the time. My Dad was also one of the founders of the National School of RV Park and Campground Management. ARVC has an award named after him now called the Herb Strauss Education Award.

Did you work at the campground when you were growing up?

Yes, I did. I worked in a number of different departments, mainly in activities and in the office, but I did have other jobs outside of the campground growing up, as well. I think it’s important for any multigenerational campground business to have family members go out and work at another business, even if it's another campground that's not your own family's. I think it gives you a lot of perspective on how to be a good employee and how the work world really works.

Given your background, did you always plan on having a career in the industry?

No, I never actually intended to go into the camping industry. My passion was really in teaching. That's what I went to school for and I taught elementary school in Florida. And then, as my husband and I got older and we had our son, we thought it would be really nice to be around family more and to have a little bit more control over our schedule. Growing up on a campground was just such a great experience for me that we were excited about being able to give that experience to our son. So in 2013, we moved back to Maine to start the process of taking over the family business and in 2016, we purchased the park.

Have you made improvements to the park since then?

The campground was amazing when we bought it. My parents were really invested in making it as good as it could be, so the improvements we’ve made have been keeping in the same vein. We put in Wi-Fi throughout the whole park and we moved to a fully-online reservation system. We’ve also replaced a lot of the older buildings and added a lot of boats like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to our boat livery.

Tell us about your involvement in the industry and why it is so important to you.

I have been on the MECOA board since 2018 and I was honored to recently be elected president. I was also chosen to represent the state of Maine for NCA, and this year, I was elected treasurer. I feel it's really important to give back to the industry and that the more involved you are the better you have your finger on the pulse of what is going on. You get back so much more than you put in. David Berg, owner of Red Apple Campground, who recently passed away, was a huge member of MECOA. One of the biggest things that he always told campground owners is that you get 10 times more back than what you put into the industry and that the more involved you can be, the more it makes your own campground better.

What does it mean for you to be appointed to the ARVC Board of Directors?

I'm just so honored that they felt that I would be an asset to the Board and a good fit. I'm happy to do whatever I can to help the industry and to continue to improve it and to help other campground owners improve their own businesses, as well. My parents were always really big into the education of campground owners. My background is in education and when ARVC Chair Bert Davis appointed me to the Board, he wanted me to serve on the Education Committee, which I’m honored to do. High tides raise all ships, so when one of us does well, and we can share that information, it makes the whole industry better.

Why do you feel it’s important for campgrounds to be involved in a 20 Group?

It’s all about learning from other people and about their best practices. It's such a small, intimate group that you really get to dive into the specifics of other people's businesses. It’s so invaluable to actually get to take a microscope to a business similar to yours, and to kind of look under the hood. It brings things to light that you wouldn't necessarily notice in your own business, because your scope is so small. At this time, we have six members in our group, but as the newest 20 Group in the ARVC family, we’re still growing.

What do you see for the future of the campground industry?

I think we're going to see more corporations continuing to enter the market. But I think that campers really enjoy the small town, Mom-and-Pop feel, as well. So I think it will be important to continue to support our smaller campgrounds and our single owners who want to make it a great family experience for their customers. I don't think that's ever going away.

How is the season shaping up for you so far?

It’s looking like we’re going to be super busy again, so we’re excited.


Kitty Winship Co-Owner of Papoose Pond Family Campground & Cabins in Waterford, Maine