Leadership Profile: Dee Witting
"I would tell them that the networking—the opportunity to learn from others in the industry—was probably one of the most beneficial things that I had done as a campground owner."
Carolinas Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (CARVC)
When did you first get involved in the campground industry?
Around 2005, I wanted to make a move to the western North Carolina mountains so I left my teaching career and went there and bought an independent park called Peace Valley Campground in Murphy N.C. I then converted it to become the Murphy KOA. I sold the campground in 2013.
How has joining CARVC helped you in your career in the outdoor hospitality industry?
Coming from the teaching industry, I did not know much about the camping industry. I knew that I needed to get involved in networking and to be with those that knew a lot about the industry, so I joined CARVC immediately. I served on the board for six years. After the sale of my KOA in North Carolina, I went to work for a few years at a KOA in New York state. I always stayed in close contact with the CARVC Board of Directors and in 2016, CARVC called me and said, “Would you like to come back as executive director?” I’ve been in this position since then. We represent RV parks and campgrounds throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
What would you say to encourage other campground owners to get involved in their state and national associations?
I would tell them that the networking—the opportunity to learn from others in the industry—was probably one of the most beneficial things that I had done as a campground owner. I would also tell prospective members that numbers matter. The more campgrounds we get involved the stronger we can become to fight off legislative or regulatory threats to our industry.
The 2021 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) will be held in Raleigh in November. Are you and your members making any special plans for it?
OHCE was in Raleigh in 2017 and we’re excited to have everyone come back to North Carolina. We're going to have a Carolinas get together on Tuesday night during the conference at a local restaurant. We’re inviting current members, supplier members and others looking to get into the industry in the Carolinas to come and network and have the opportunity to meet face to face and meet the CARVC Board of Directors.
What would you like to tell ARVC members who will be coming to Raleigh or North Carolina for the first time?
North Carolina boasts many picturesque spots, with our majestic mountains in the west to the beaches in the east. Hopefully they will get out and experience some great southern food, the North Carolina beers and wines and most of all, our southern hospitality.
Last year, CARVC launched its new website, CampingCarolinas.com. What are your plans for the new site?
We’re working closely with SEPI Marketing who is our host and we are constantly looking for ways to make it better. We want to emphasize what brings people to the Carolinas. If you like the mountains and you like the beach, you can come and do both within a day’s drive, which is very unique. So for the website, we’re really looking at highlighting our member campgrounds across both states and driving people to them. We’re also going to do some blogs about the beauty of the Carolinas, the camping accommodations, the unique lodging and all. We’re also hoping to add events, so when people go to an area they’ll know what there is to do. Websites are always a work in progress. SEPI Marketing has been great to work with and my Marketing Committee has really taken hold of this project.
What are some of the other initiatives CARVC is working on?
I think the most exciting thing that we're working is that we've been able to hire lobbyists for both North Carolina and South Carolina, which I feel is huge. In both states, we’re addressing the issue of ejection. We're hoping to be able to remove our guests when necessary to provide for a safer and more enjoyable environment for our guests, our workers and owners. In South Carolina, the Senate subcommittee hearing adjourned without a vote on our bill, but it had gotten that far, so we're going to address that when the legislative start session starts in January. In North Carolina, HB 352 has passed the House, the Senate Rules Committee on August 17th and will go to the Senate for action on August 18th. CARVC asked for a call to action by the North Carolina campgrounds to contact the Democratic members of the Senate asking them to pass the bill.
How are you planning to grow CARVC’s membership?
It’s something that we’re constantly doing. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve visited over 50 campgrounds, both members and nonmembers. I’m on the road a lot. The board and I feel that that personal touch is very important, to go and visit our members and also visit our nonmembers, hopefully to bring them on as members. One of the biggest challenges is just educating campgrounds on the benefits that we have to offer. We want them to put a face to us and know that this is who CARVC is. That’s very, very important.