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Two Dynamic Forces Drive Sleepy Hollow Campground’s Success

How Angela and Stacey Shunk Transformed Their Business with Industry Support

Ever wondered how a remote campground in the scenic hills of Western Maryland can be successfully run by a couple living hundreds of miles away in Georgia? Meet Angela Shunk and her wife Stacey, the dynamic duo behind Sleepy Hollow Campground. In this interview, Angela shares their journey of transforming a dilapidated family-owned campground into a thriving business, all while juggling the challenges of remote management. She also talks about how their membership with OHI and attending the Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE®) last year played a pivotal role in their current success. 

Sleepy Hollow Campground is owned and operated by retired Air Force veterans and spouses Angela and Stacey Shunk. The campground, which is in a tranquil mountainous area in Western Maryland (Grantsville to be exact), was purchased by Angela and Stacey from Angela’s grandparents, Doc and Grace Shunk. The once-outdated and weathered campground has been renovated into a nature-focused sanctuary. Since purchasing the campground in 2018, the pair have managed to restore it and operate it remotely even though they reside in Savannah, Georgia. 

Angela, Stacey and their children

A sanctuary for those who enjoy the outdoors, Sleepy Hollow Campground provides a straightforward and peaceful camping experience. The campground, which emphasizes natural beauty, offers a striking contrast to Deep Creek Lake, a popular tourist destination close by. The peaceful, woodland settings are the real attraction, albeit there are amenities like a refurbished bathroom and Wi-Fi. The simplicity of Sleepy Hollow, according to Angela, is what draws guests who value a more natural and rustic experience. 

Sleepy Hollow campsite

Overseeing a campground from a distance poses distinct difficulties. Angela and Stacey travel frequently between Georgia and Maryland and stay on-site for most of the summer. Operations were challenging at first due to a dependence on outdated technology and a lack of on-site management. Nonetheless, to boost guest experiences and facilitate better remote management, the couple has been investigating reasonably priced digital options. But more on that soon. 

Angela reflects on how joining OHI and attending OHCE®2023 has significantly benefited their business. Before their involvement with OHI, the couple faced frequent challenges due to their lack of industry knowledge and resources. The support and education provided by OHI have been invaluable. 

“It has been immensely beneficial to network with other park owners and gain knowledge from their experiences,” Stacey says. Despite being a small park, Angela discovered that Sleepy Hollow has many of the same difficulties as larger parks. The small park discount offered by OHI to attend OHCE® also helped them financially, which was essential for their budget. “To have that discount is huge to us. It made a big difference in our decision to come, which has made a huge difference in our success” This discount allowed them to attend the conference without straining their finances, enabling them to use that money for their campground’s continued growth and improvements. 

Angela and Stacey found a new reservation method at the OHCE® expo hall, which proved to be a turning point for Sleepy Hollow. They handled reservations by hand before attending OHCE®, which was tedious and prone to mistakes. They were able to see demonstrations of different Property Management Systems (PMS) at OHCE® and one solution in particular struck them since it provided automated email confirmations and online reservations—features crucial to their remote management setup. 

“Getting a reservation system that we could do online reservations and send automatic emails, especially because we’re not there all the time, was a game-changer for us.” Angela said. By making the booking process simple and effective, this new PMS enhanced the entire guest experience, streamlined operations, and decreased workload. 

Attending OHCE® was more than just an educational experience for Angela and Stacey; it was a turning point. Angela puts it best: “If you’re on the fence about attending, just go. The connections, the new technologies, the knowledge – it’s all worth it. We went from managing reservations manually to having an efficient, automated system that saves us time and headaches.”  

Angela adds that the OHCE® isn’t just for newcomers. Even seasoned park owners can benefit from the latest industry trends, innovative technologies, and the supportive community. “One thing I didn’t realize was how much camaraderie and willingness to help other campground owners there would be. I thought we’d be in competition, but people are so willing to give advice and support. It’s amazing—people lifting each other up. I really appreciate that,” she says.”It’s about seeing what’s out there, learning from others, and constantly improving”. 

Angela and Stacey at OHCE2023

Angela and Stacey are excited about future developments at Sleepy Hollow. They plan to introduce a “glamp shop” offering local souvenirs, essentials, and tourist items. This addition aims to provide convenience for guests and support local artisans, enhancing the overall guest experience. The couple is also exploring ways to facilitate reservations for drive-in guests through self-service options. 

Sleepy Hollow’s story underscores the significant impact of OHI membership and the OHCE® conference on small park owners. Her advice to prospective park owners is to join associations early to leverage the wealth of knowledge and resources available. The camaraderie and support within the outdoor hospitality community have been pivotal in their journey, proving that collaboration often leads to greater success than competition.  

Sleepy Hollow Campground

They’re a testament to the power of community, professional development, and innovation in the Outdoor Hospitality Industry. Angela and Stacey’s dedication and willingness to embrace new ideas and technologies have set them on a path to achieve more than they even originally thought was possible for their small park.