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I keep having this idea of opening a campground on our place. We have 40 acres in rural Missouri. I love the outdoors and was actually going to get a degree in outdoor recreation before having kids. I would like to have a business at home so I can be here for my children, but make a little money at the same time. We are close to several state parks and scenic areas. I was thinking something small, just a few primitive campsites to start off with and a picnic area? Am I crazy or does anyone think this might work. I know I have a lot to consider but I knew I could get some great feedback here. Also there is more land for sale adjoining ours that would be great for hiking, horseback riding, etc. Lots of rocks, trees, hills etc. Perfect for recreational use. I welcome any feedback from you all!
 

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One of the first things I'd check out would be liability insurance. After that, just keep in mind that you kind of have to 'babysit' while you have campers. Are you thinking about year-round camping, or maybe just for the summer months?
 

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When I was active in horsebacking, I'd of paid anything for a campground with corrals. Good horses I'd take on up overnight. But new or untried horses I would of prefered safer conditions. I found one in Eastern WA at Samon-La-Sac. At one time I thought about opening a horse campground. Then thought about the liability and jerks. Good luck.
 

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You could probably get $5 to $8 per night. Some type of "pad" for the tent to be on is nice. You will also have to have some type of "potty" (outhouse). Some people think that community bathrooms with showers and sinks and toilets is "primitive" (so now we are talking water and septic). Probably the most negative would be the amount of garbage that campers would leave and before long you would have an invasion of critters to contend with. We used to camp in Tyler, TX years ago and finally gave up because the Raccoons would drive us nuts at night getting into everything. Campers typically bring lots of throw-away stuff like paper plates and cups and dump food in the trash too, and you could end up spending all your time taking other people's garbage to the dumps. Then like Jillianjiggs said, there is the liability. You could probably put an umbrella liability policy on your homeowner's insurance, but somebody gets hurt on your property and you could be broke before you know it.
 

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We spent a summer once in Holly, MI at a Yogi Bear Park, while my husband finished up a contract he was working on. Sounds cheesy, but we all had a blast. They have lots to do for kids, theme weekends, and are always packed to the gills with families. Anyway, they have a website, and you can purchase a franchise. We actually considered doing this, and may yet.
http://www.campjellystone.com/
 

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Mudwoman said:
You could probably get $5 to $8 per night. Some type of "pad" for the tent to be on is nice. You will also have to have some type of "potty" (outhouse). Some people think that community bathrooms with showers and sinks and toilets is "primitive" (so now we are talking water and septic). Probably the most negative would be the amount of garbage that campers would leave and before long you would have an invasion of critters to contend with. We used to camp in Tyler, TX years ago and finally gave up because the Raccoons would drive us nuts at night getting into everything. Campers typically bring lots of throw-away stuff like paper plates and cups and dump food in the trash too, and you could end up spending all your time taking other people's garbage to the dumps. Then like Jillianjiggs said, there is the liability. You could probably put an umbrella liability policy on your homeowner's insurance, but somebody gets hurt on your property and you could be broke before you know it.
Having travelled extensively I can guarantee you that you can charge 3 times that amount for a very basic campground. Check out http://www.woodalls.com/ for information and costs on campgrounds and it will amaze you what the going rates are.
 

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Hospitality management training would be in your interest for opereating a campground. Some of the provinicial campgrounds in Ontario are being converted to operate by private individuals who don't have to buy the land that's already there for camping. They put up investment by managing the grounds which is about 90% toil for keeping clean and about 10% paper 'management'. The thing with liability is a big factor to consider any public operation, though not impossible if your pricing figures into the consideration.
I would think also a new land previously not operated as a campground would be subject to meeting license requirements and maybe a variety of hurdles to jump including hwy. department permission for commercial entrance, design for meeting sanitation requirements, public health sampling of potable water, etc. etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the advice! I had something small in mind and maybe from April thru Nov. (deer season). Just an idea.
 

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My brother works part time for a campground. This is in PA. Any more people expect everything from septic and water to cable to their site. They roll in with huge motor homes - city folk quite clueless about "camping". Be prepared! They will pay alot for a site but from my brother's stories they are a picky, fancy bunch. Also cheap - they have a surcharge on electric for air conditioning, but would see a huge motor home parked in the sun with all the windows shut in the heat of summer - hmmm no air conditioning??? Just alot of BS.

For tent camping - is there a market anymore? Remember we are not the "norm" market out there....

One other caution, I once was at a campground in Colorado in the middle of summer (dry as a bone) and people two sites down started this huge camp fire - flames leaping into the trees! I packed and got ready to run - then went to the office and reported it. It's a miracle it didn't start a forest fire. As I said, campers can be clueless so be prepared. Heck this summer one person at my brother's camp ground drove her car into the pond! They had to fish it out with the tractor.

I had considered doing a campground in the past, but after hearing from my brother, gave up on the idea.

The campground my brother works at makes alot of money on seasonal rentals also - there is a transient population but many go out and camp for the entire summer. (My brother and parents included - he gets a free site for working). They don't have air conditioning at home (only 10 miles away) so they stay there for the summer. Part of the service is to tow the large trailers and 5th wheels to storage for the winter and bring them back out for everyone in the spring. Of course then they offer winterizing services, repairs (when people decide they are going to winterize themselves to save money and screw it up), sales, etc.
 
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Several years ago a lady and her son put in a camp ground on their place just up the road from us. It had a creek running through it and they dammed it up in several places and made a trout farm on the creek bed. They also dug a big pond and stocked it with catfish that was already in the one and two pound range. They had RV hookups and primitive camping area that they charged so much for and they charged by the pound on the fish caught. You had to keep everything you caught, not allowed to throw any back in the water. She done this for several years and then shut down.

A few months ago I was talking to her and asked her why she shut down and if the business was not there. She told me that there was plenty of business and that she had several boy and girl scout groups from across the state that would come in for the weekends to camp and fish. Plus she had several families that would spend a whole weeks vacation there every year. According to her she had plenty of happy campers but what put her out of business was thieving neighbors. She said several times when their neighbors new they was gone they would come in and sein their trout ponds out or steel lots of fishing gear/bait etc. She said after several times and the law not doing anything about it, she said it just wasn't worth it. So she shut it down.

So I hope you have better neighbors than we do!
 

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Mudwoman said:
We used to camp in Tyler, TX years ago and finally gave up because the Raccoons would drive us nuts at night getting into everything.
The racoons in Tyler State Park are notorious. I've camped there at least a dozen times; they finally removed the trash cans and went to centralized dumpsters with heavy racoon-proof lids on them. The first time we were there, I was walking to the restroom one night and walked by a trash can to see two little racoon feet hanging on the edge. A true dumpster-diver. I've also seen them break into coolers with a good latch. Dang racoon unlatched one when I wasn't even 10 feet away watching him. It only had canned drinks and ice....but he managed to make off with a cold can of Coors. Bet they had a party that night!
 

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There are a good many organizations you could join and then offer special discounts to. There are over 100 major camping (campground) shows per year where you could drum up business.

Sounds like a workable idea.




Kenneth in NC
 

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I would suggest you start going camping alot. Check out the campgrounds and talk to the people who run them. My aunt and uncle ran a campground for years. They did that all summer, then hit the road with a motorhome for the winter.

Check for any associations for campground owners. I'm sure there's lots of info there.

Jena
 

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I would like to have a business at home so I can be here for my children, but make a little money at the same time.
Business at home, business in town, business wherever.... its still business, the only difference is geography. Ask anyone who owns any semi-sucessful business how much time, effort and money it actually does take... much more than most folks realize.

cheers,
 

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:) Just some thoughts....nothing was ever gained by not trying.

You can limit your campgrounds to whatever you want. Only tents..only tents and tent trailers. You can have RV's under a certain size or none at all. Pets OK or No Pets. It is up to you. All you have to do is to advertise "Dry Camp Sites"..no hook-ups. Then you needn't worry about all that stuff. You will have to provide good drinking water and toilets of course.

One of the things that is growing by leaps and bounds is putting Yurts in and renting them out for "camping". LOL People love them and I am one of those. :p

Go for it..just do your homework. You can find ways to deal with the wildlife but you must really like people to do this. So, give that some thought.

Good luck....LQ
 

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The start-up fees for licencing, and septic, and health inspections, and insurance are really very high in that business. Do your homework really well, it may not be cost effective.
 

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I would think that $5-$8 a night would not be enough to even begin covering your overhead and hassle for just a few campsites. But RV parks, now that's another thing altogether. Esp. if you are in a warm weather area. The better ones around here stay pretty full year round. I know a guy from another forum who is building one here in Texas. I think he will make lots of money since he is doing it right. Get in with the RV clubs like Good Sams, etc. and you've hit a gold mine.
 

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Little Quacker in OR said:
:) Just some thoughts....nothing was ever gained by not trying.

You can limit your campgrounds to whatever you want. Only tents..only tents and tent trailers. You can have RV's under a certain size or none at all. Pets OK or No Pets. It is up to you. All you have to do is to advertise "Dry Camp Sites"..no hook-ups. Then you needn't worry about all that stuff. You will have to provide good drinking water and toilets of course.

One of the things that is growing by leaps and bounds is putting Yurts in and renting them out for "camping". LOL People love them and I am one of those. :p

Go for it..just do your homework. You can find ways to deal with the wildlife but you must really like people to do this. So, give that some thought.

Good luck....LQ
Thanks for the encouragement. I have a lot of research to do. Too bad things aren't simple like they use to be. What is a Yurt by the way?? I'll have to do a search and find out.
 

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My neighbor spent a week in a TeePee up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. So it looks like anything goes. As for water and stuff not if you offer PRIMATIVE camping only. The NC state park offers it that way and no toilet, no water and not ressponsible for accidents.

You might contact KOA and see if your in a area they want a franchise. I've read that they are the best to work with for setting up a camp ground.



Kenneth in NC
 

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ozarkmomma What are you close to? Around here State Park is 10 miles away.Private Camping,Canoe Rentals,Horseback Riding,only spans out about 5 miles from the State Part.You have to take into consideration Insurance,Security,and just plain making People feel comfortable.

big rockpile
 
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