On this week's show, Michelle visits Normandy Farms in Massachusetts, and finds out why this campground is continuously ranked one of the top campgrounds in New England by leading RV and camping surveys.
Then Jeff Johnston shows us how relatively easy it is to install what he considers one of the best RV upgrades to come around in years. Check it out and see if you agree.
Also, continuing with RV upgrades, Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 show us how to install a practical retractable screen door.
And with the 2020 RVBusiness Magazine RV of the Year award show now in the can, so to speak, we'll wrap up this week's show with a quick look at this growing industry event.
Normandy Farms Campground in Foxboro, MA
And now, let's join Michelle as she talks with Marcia Galvin about Normandy Farms and its interesting history.
Michelle Fontaine: Hi, Michelle and Laurie, and we're here in Foxborough, Massachusetts to visit one of the top campgrounds in New England. Let's catch up with Marcia Galvin of Normandy Farms Campground.
Marcia Galvin: You came on a weekend that we're having a big rally, so there's lots of stuff going on out there. But I'm going to bump you back a little bit and tell you about the history of Normandy Farms. We're currently on the ninth generation of Daniels family. We've not always been a campground. It was a working farm back in 1759, when we had our ancestor came over from Normandy, France.
Marcia: We have 100 acres. It started out with 53 acres. And over the course of years and years, it grew to be 100 acres. We're going to be celebrating 260 years of ownership in 2021.
Eventually, the farming just kind of went by the wayside back in the '60s. My grandparents were avid campers, and there wasn't one in the area, so he thought, "Well, we can just start a campground, 25 sites." That's where the campground began, 1971 we opened with just the white house across the street, the pool that's in the backyard, that used to be our childhood pool when we were growing up. And that became the first pool of the park.
Marcia: This is our registration center. And we do have a gift store, and this is where folks check in. There's a wide variety of items here that you--anything that you need basically when you're camping, sweatshirts, bathing suits, you know, things like that, as well as the grocery item.
Michelle: Your level of technology is impressive, which it has to be because you've got a big operation here. The registration process, you can actually get your parking passes and do that all, just go right on through. So, you can make a reservation online. When you pay in full just before your check-in day, you'll receive an email confirmation with your car pass, bar code. You can go right to the gate and pick up your wristbands for the kids, and go right to your site.
Michelle: One thing I noticed when we checked in was, we were told the water pressure at your sites is--it's good water pressure, so make sure you have a water regulator. That's really great advice.
Marcia: Eighty to a hundred pound water pressure. You get a great hot shower, lots of pressure, but you have to be careful.
We are so centrally located to Boston, Cape Cod, Plymouth, Providence. We're sort of right in the middle. So, you could park here for a week and go off into Boston, take the T, which is close by. You could drive down to the Cape, so, it really is a nice, central location. If you didn't even want to go that far, we've got Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots that are just four miles up the--up the street. We've got the Wrentham Outlets that are close by, and we have Plainridge Casino. So, you don't really have to go very far, you can just come and camp out.
We have four swimming pools, a basketball court, two playgrounds, two softball fields, volleyball, horseshoes, bocce, Hot tub and sauna, fitness center. Two of the pools are heated.
That's our recreation lodge where we have all our activities, it's the main hub of the park. We'll have ice cream socials, dances, anything that would go on inside where we can gather a group of people, that's where we go. We have the adult loft if you want to get away from your kids and enjoy some adult time. And the kids loft is on the opposite side.
We have got the best team members, topped 140 this season. We really do value guest service. If you don't have your own RV and you'd like to still come camping, we have cabins, we have yurts, we have safari tents, and we have pop-ups. So, you can have a different experience, whatever you're looking for. If you're looking for the glamping experience, go for the cabin and yurt because it is a hotel room inside. Air conditioning, heat, fireplace, bathroom, everything that you would have. Step outside and you can have your campfire, so it's perfect.
We are adding a new type of rental next year: tiny houses. We are going to be adding one, maybe two tiny houses to our fleet of rentals for 2020. So, if a family wants to come in and experience a tiny house, then we have that experience for them too.
Back in 1983, my mother Doris had--when the campground was really starting, chose the Jimmy Fund as to be our charity of choice. And so, over the years, we've run events such as ice cream socials, all our Halloweens, the hayrides, the haunted houses, casino night, things like that. And all of the money that we generate, we donate to the Jimmy Fund. And we've raised over $380,000.
Every weekend is themed. We have superhero weekend in the summer. We have chocolate sweets weekend. We have wellness weekend, where we'll have yoga, tai chi. We've got spirit weekend. Every weekend is--oh yeah, you can come and do--pick and choose every weekend, and there'll be something entertaining and different. This time of year especially, we'll get folks traveling across country that want to see the leaves and the foliage and things like that, it's absolutely beautiful.
John Dipietro: I see all these signs for Halo's Wish. Tell me about that organization. Jason: It's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, where we raise funds throughout the year, and we grant wishes to children every fall.
John: We understand that fundraising goes on year-round, but how about the most heartwarming story that you can tell us about the seven years that you've been doing this? Jason: I have to go back to our first Halo's Wish that we granted. This young girl, Kylie,
suffering from Chagas' disease, which is an eye disorder for juveniles. And after we sent her family to Florida, she has a small class up in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, and she held some bake sales. And the following year, she came back to us and donated all her money that she had raised to Halo's Wish so she could pay it forward.
We want to say thank you to "Rollin' On TV" for letting people all over the country know about Halo's Wish. And if you wish to donate, go to haloswish.org.
Solid Step from Lippert Components
Jeff Johnston: People have been climbing in and out of RVs pretty much the same way for 40 or 50 years. These collapsible, foldaway steps have been kind of the de facto standard on RVs for a long time, and they work. But there is a better alternative today. Sometimes, these can be a little bit on the wobbly side. You feel a little but unsteady, especially for someone who weighs a little bit more like me. The new solution that is now on the market is a fantastic piece of gear that gives you a solid, secure way to climb in and out of an RV. It's something that the industry has needed for a long time, and let's take a closer look at it.
This is the new Solid Step from Lippert components. It's an entirely different concept in RV entry stairs. They're available in three different sizes, two, three, and four steps. Different widths to accommodate larger and smaller size doors. And they mount fairly easily right here on the top of the step. And we'll go through the process to show you how that works. But in the meantime, the top step is extremely wide, it's like 13 inches to give a little more stability when you make that first step into the vehicle.
Each of the steps has some little traction strips to help avoid slipping. And this is a totally solid assembly that feels nothing like the old standard type steps. Plus there are two adjustments on the bottom, so when you get to your campsite, you can drop the adjustable legs to be able to make the step sit level and solid on the ground. It's a really neat item, probably in my opinion one of the slickest additions to RV accessories to come along in a long time.
Be sure to watch the step by step install by Jeff in this show!
And when you're ready to go, that's it. The Lippert Solid Step,, definitely one of the best product investments you can make in your RV. We needed this about 40 years ago, but it's good to have it now.
Installing a Retractable Screen Door
Hi, I'm Mark Polk with RV Education 101, and today, we're doing an RV DIY project. At a trade show we attended, I was walking through a new RV, and I noticed it had a retractable screen door. The screen conveniently, slides open or closed, and it's stored out of the way when not in use. When we returned home, I researched retractable screen doors for RVs.
And today, we're going to install one on our RV. Let's get started. Ever since we bought our motorhome, we have had trouble with the screen door. It didn't stay latched to the entry door when you weren't using it, and I had to replace the latch mechanism twice. You can see here it still isn't working properly now. After seeing a retractable screen door at the RV trade show, I discovered Plisse, a company that specializes in retractable screens. After more research, I was convinced Plisse was the company to do business with. The retractable screens are all custom designed and made for your application. They're affordable, and it's an easy DIY project for RV owners.
Before we get to the installation, I want to briefly discuss the ordering process. The staff at Plisse was great to work with, and they had me measure everything they needed to ensure a proper fit. Based on my photos, the Plisse staff identified the need for custom spaces for my application. And after requesting more details, they were able to provide them. This saved me from trying to create my own custom parts.
There's a blog article on the site that helps explain accurate measuring for your door. And you can contact Doug directly if you need assistance. Next, you place your order with free shipping. And before you know it, the retractable screen arrives by UPS. The screen is delivered in a secure box, and all the parts are clearly labeled and easy to locate. There's also a very clear set of printed installation instructions in the box.
The installation is pretty straightforward. And because it was custom designed, you don't need to make any difficult adjustments or cuts to make it fit. The DIY installation involves on packing and checking the box contents, assembling the unit, installing the unit, adjusting the tension, and installing the trim pieces. My installation also involves relocating my electric step switch so the steps operate properly.
Watch the show to see Mark install this great screen door!
Now, you can sit back and enjoy the breeze provided by your new Plisse retractable screen. For more information on retractable screens, take a minute to visit plissescreen.com.
Mark Polk, RV Education 101
Well, we're down to the big unveiling of the 2020 RV Business RV of the Year winner. And this year, the award goes to--