Larry Helms Owner, Boiling Spring Campground, Dixon, Mo.  Executive Director, Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC)

Leadership Profile: Larry Helms

Larry Helms

Owner, Boiling Spring Campground, Dixon, Mo.

Executive Director, Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC)

Recipient of ARVC’s 2021 Pioneer Award

How did you get started in the campground industry?

I was working at a regular job and saw a whole bunch of folks that weren’t happy working all of the time and didn’t like what they do. So I went to a couple of campgrounds and started doing due diligence. It was a joy to see folks camping with their families. It looked like a very wholesome activity and something I wanted to be involved with, so I decided that I wanted to become a campground owner. My Gayle and I started looking to buy a park but I didn’t find a location I liked, so we decided to build one from scratch. And that was before NFPA 1194 (Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds)! Thirty-one years ago we started our campground and canoe rental with 10 campsites and one canoe.  I currently have 50 full hook-up campsites, cabin rentals and full-service recreational boat rentals (ninety canoes, ninety kayaks, 35 rafts and 50 tubes) on the beautiful Gasconade River!

How long have you been involved with MOARC and how has it helped you as a campground owner?

This is MOARC’s 54th year and I’ve been involved at least 25 years or so. My biggest challenge when I first started to build my campground was that I hadn’t been down this road before and I didn't have anybody to talk to about the issues that come up and how to solve those issues. Finally, I found MOARC and the folks were very helpful. In my first meeting, I learned so much that I went back. I thought it was really important to be part of an association because of the networking and the education. I’ll give you an example. We have a little camp store down here where we have 1,700 items. When we first opened that store, I had no idea where to get product and what to put in there. So I went to Jeff Sims’ park back when his Dad owned it and they gave me direction on what to put in the store, where to get product and the quantities. The networking and support you get from an association is a big deal.


As Executive Director of MOARC, what are some of the issues you’ve addressed or are currently working on?

Once I became executive director several years ago, I thought there were several issues we had to solve here in the state. One was campground ejection. Up until 2014, Missouri was under the landlord/tenant law, saying that if you’ve got someone staying at your park you can't get rid of them without taking them to court and it could take six months to get a camper out of a campground. So in 2014, we were able to pass the campground ejection legislation which was a huge win for our campground owners in Missouri. Now we're no longer under landlord/tenant laws. We're under the motel/hotel section. After that, we decided that we had to get inherent risk legislation for campground owners taken care of because there are so many frivolous lawsuits about things that a campground owner has no control over. Fortunately, with the help of ARVC and our campground lobbyists, last year everything came together and Governor Parson signed the Inherent Risk for Campground legislation into law (HB 369, RSMO 537.328). I think the new law is going to be a huge win for campground owners in Missouri. Now we're looking at seeing if we can get NFPA 1194 adopted as a state standard for new campgrounds.

Also, since COVID hit, we’ve been continuing to raise the flag here in Missouri about why campgrounds are essential businesses. I probably wrote 20 letters to different state legislators and the cities of Branson and Springfield explaining why campgrounds are essential. I think people get it once they find out that you’ve got people staying at the campgrounds who are traveling nurses, front line health care providers and construction workers that support hospitals and the pandemic effort. So we’re trying to get the word out about how essential campgrounds are and what role we play. For example, at my campground I have a commercial well, just like a city, so we can dispense water to the public. We also have a propane filling station and an event center which is an official cooling and warming center for people that have been impacted by disasters and for the camping public. We feel that all these things make an important contribution.

How is 2022 shaping up for the campgrounds in Missouri?

I think it’s going to be a very good year. We were just at the St. Louis RV show handing out our MOARC 2022 camping guides and they were very well received. A lot of folks have a great interest in getting out in nature because so many people were locked down and they want to be able to get out. I do think that COVID is going to continue to have an impact, and somehow we’ve got to figure out how to live with it. Of course, there’s no better place than being outside and camping and not being bunched up in crowded areas. So we're really optimistic about getting things going and making sure that we're doing the right things to put out the welcome mat here in Missouri.

You were recently honored with ARVC’s Pioneer Award which recognizes industry leaders and visionaries whose groundbreaking efforts have contributed to the growth and success of the RV and campground industry. What did it mean to you to receive this award?

I was completely surprised and honored to receive this prestigious award. I look forward in continuing my efforts to support and work for betterment of the outdoor hospitality industry here in Missouri and around the country.




Larry Helms Owner, Boiling Spring Campground, Dixon, Mo.  Executive Director, Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC)