GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted July 7th, 2020

How Industry Organizations United to Advocate for Campers During the Shutdown

Happy Camper Blog

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted virtually every type of business, and campgrounds are no exception. If you’re an avid camper, you may have wondered if and when your favorite campgrounds would be open for business during these unprecedented times. What you may not realize, though, is that there were many industry organizations working diligently throughout the crisis to advocate for your best interests as a camper. 

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) was part of an industry-wide effort that included Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the Canadian RV Association (CRVA), Marshall & Sterling Insurance, the RV Industry Association (RVIA), state campground associations and other industry partners. The goal was to keep campground owners continually updated on the latest news, advocacy efforts, resources, government policies and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health guidelines as conditions evolved. ARVC also served as a critical clearinghouse for updated information on restrictions, executive orders and closures by state, county and city. 

Deb Carter, owner of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort in Earleville, Md. and executive director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds (MAC), relied on the regular updates she received from ARVC to keep her members informed during the crisis. Being able to tap into the expertise of industry organizations also helped her with important advocacy initiatives.  

“We wrote to Governor Larry Hogan asking to be considered as an essential business after his Executive Order closed campgrounds at the end of March 2020,” she says. “We were able to write over 10,000 letters in a very brief window of time, to all of our members’ representatives, by using RVACT.com (RVIA’s action center where industry members can make their voices heard). Our letters centered on the need for campgrounds to be open to help with accommodations for essential workers in the health, safety and construction fields.  

“Many of us received several responses from our various representatives, with offers of support, understanding and offers to work with Governor Hogan to help with our requests. On May 7, campgrounds in Maryland were allowed to re-open, with restrictions.  Most restrictions have now been lifted, such as use of the beach, pool and playgrounds.  We still encourage everyone to practice safe-distancing, face coverings, small groups, etc. 

“Maryland's Governor Hogan (Chair of the National Governors Association) is a strong supporter of small business in Maryland and was not only aware but concerned about the need for campgrounds to re-open before Memorial Day in Maryland,” Carter says.  “We can't thank Gov. Hogan enough, as well as our friends at ARVC and RVIA.” 

The advocacy efforts Carter led for her state camping association are one example of the many proactive measures that were taken to ensure that campgrounds would be open to serve full-time RVers, healthcare workers and others who depend on the camping lifestyle. 

Jason Vaughan is the managing director of Mountain Vista Campground in East Stroudsburg, Pa. and the incoming executive director for the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA).  

“We were active from the beginning and the association went to bat for the members,” he says. “We got an initial exemption to be open, which got changed three weeks later to be residential only. Then we fought hard for the next couple of weeks to get open. In order to do that, we had to submit a lot of information to the state and we worked with the governor's office on what the campgrounds could do to mitigate the spread. We were certainly very active, answering questions from the community and the membership and then working with different legislative bodies to come up with what the campgrounds can do.” 

After PCOA submitted detailed plans outlining how social distancing would be accomplished and how safety measures such as masks and face shields would be implemented, campgrounds in Pennsylvania were given permission to open on May 1, which was welcome news for campers.  

If you can’t wait to get out and start camping again, you’re not alone. According to a special report commissioned by Kampgrounds of America on North American Camping on the effects of COVID-19, leisure travelers rank camping as the safest form of travel to resume once restrictions are lifted and that camping, glamping and road trips may replace other types of planned trips in 2020. After all, camping is the ideal (and fun) way to practice social distancing. 

So, go ahead and start planning your summer and fall camping trips. You can rest easy, knowing that there are many industry organizations watching out for your best interests. Listen to the message of GoRVing in its nationwide campaign dedicated to promoting the joys of RVing: AFTER #STAYINSIDE COMES #ROAMOUTSIDE.