The Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, or CARVC, is a membership-based nonprofit that provides a means of promotion for campgrounds, as well as support for changing camping trends.
Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, CARVC, Peace Valley campground, KOA, Atlantic ocean
MobileRVing: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider, Written by Andrew Malo.
Camping in the Carolinas Per CARVC
Executive Director for CARVC Dee Witting Says That Camping In General, Especially In The Carolinas, Is In A Very Positive Trend
The state motto of South Carolina is "Dum Spiro, spero," which translates to "While I breathe, I hope." The state motto of North Carolina is "Esse Quam Videri," which translates to "To be, rather than to seem." So, one could gather from the Carolinas that finding places to breathe and a place to be present are the goals of the region. Luckily, both Carolinas have a plethora of places to do that in their natural wonders, from the dramatic beaches on the Atlantic Ocean to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the west. And what better way to be and breathe than in a campground?
"We have a very diverse range of campgrounds," explains Dee Witting, Executive Director for the Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, "From small mom and pop type campgrounds to megaparks." The Association, or CARVC, is a membership-based nonprofit that provides a means of promotion for campgrounds, as well as support for the changing camping scene.
"What I find is that everyone who works in the camping industry, from the RV makers to the small campground owners, is passionate about camping." Witting says. Witting herself came from a campground owner background. "I owned Peace Valley Campground in western North Carolina," she recalls, "And turned it into a KOA franchise before accepting the Executive Director position here." She uses this experience to help campground owners in their ventures. "I know that my work here will benefit all of us in the camping industry," Witting says, "There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, like the customer service end or that you always have guests as an owner, that most people don't realize."
Witting says that camping in general, as well as camping the Carolinas, is in a very positive trend. "We have snowbirds that used to be on their way to Florida deciding to winter in the Carolinas, especially South Carolina, instead," she says. And snowbirds who continue down to Florida will often stop longer and longer in the fall and spring in the Carolinas. Another positive trend is the millennial interest in camping, young people who want to give their young children the experiences they had as a child.
CARVC has 96 members and features over 400 campgrounds. Because camping is an expanding market, Witting notices that there are corporations buying campgrounds and therefore there is a lot more multi-park owners than we used to. Of course the smaller places have their advantages like supporting small businesses, personality, and a stronger possibility for a rich, unique camping experience, however multi-park owned campgrounds also have advantages. “If an RVer is driving down the road and they saw my Peace Valley Campground sign they didn’t know what to expect from it,” Witting says, “But when it became a KOA, it brought more travellers who knew it would have a certain standard before they even got there.” She also said there is a 15% increase in membership over the past year. “One of the biggest things we offer is membership into the National network,” Witting explains, “as well as brochures in the visitors centers and welcome centers. We handed out 88,000 brochures last year.”
How does this affect the campgrounds? "We have the largest number of mega parks in the country," Witting says, "Mainly because of the Myrtle Beach area." The mega parks are places like Pirateland Family Camping Resort, that has over 1000 sites, a water park, basketball courts, and everything one could want in a resort-type atmosphere. Plus, a lot of these are right on the Atlantic ocean. These are perfect for people who want the lush atmosphere of a vacation from regular life, with plenty of activities for kids and adults, yet still getting the taste of a traditional camping trip.
On the other side of the spectrum are places like Moonshine Creek Campground in the Smoky Mountains, whose philosophy is summed up in the first sentence on their website, "Cool, secluded, traditional camping is the style here." Places like this have much more limited amenities inside the campground, instead utilizing the beautiful nature that surrounds it as a draw, as well as the back to nature philosophy.
Whether a camper wants to be secluded in the woods or having fun with a thousands of other campers, there are certain trends that Witting has noticed and CARVC helps owners accommodate. "Wifi and cable TV are becoming more indispensable," she says. Even places like Moonshine Creek advertise Wifi and Cable TV. This could speak to the times, where people always want to be connected and be able to access their regular lives, but also could speak to a trend towards people becoming more mobile, where they are trying to marry recreation with normal life. A lot of campgrounds advertise monthly rates and, especially in South Carolina, are open year round, attracting both snowbirds, as well as people choosing to live an unconventional lifestyle. Whatever a camper’s desire, there are places for everyone to breathe and to be in the Carolinas.
A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan. He enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming.
Make Sure To Stay At:
Murphy / Peace Valley KOA, located just 1 mile from the new Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel, the beauty and solitude of the Great Smoky Mountains make this KOA an ideal spot to settle in and relax for a while.