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WeAreOHI: Ashley Migliacco

Ashley Migliaccio is a third-generation park owner with a sphere of influence that is ever-growing. On top of her growing responsibilities at her family’s campground, Hidden Acres Family Campground, she is a CCOA (Connecticut Campground Owners Association) board member, and the newly elected co-chair of OHI’s Young Professionals group. And if that didn’t keep her busy enough, she is still always thinking of how the Outdoor Hospitality Industry can evolve and expand. Part of that is championing industry member involvement and professional development by doing just that: getting involved. 

Her first venture was the Young Professionals group: OHI’s network of under 40 professionals within the industry that empowers members with leadership opportunities, professional development, and community. Ashley was recently elected as the Co-Chair for a three-year term. She also will be attending the George O’Leary National School of Outdoor Hospitality on scholarship this February. National School is the 31-year running cohort program led by industry experts focusing on business management principles and practices as applied to the Outdoor Hospitality Industry, with scholarships available thanks to the donation of the school’s namesake, George O’Leary. She spoke with us about her experience as a legacy owner, her vision for the Young Professionals group, and her excitement to attend National School.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What made you want to get involved with the National School?

I’ve been in the industry my entire life. My grandparents purchased our campground in the ‘70s, then my parents took over, and now I’m third generation. I’m super lucky to have been raised with the best teachers in the industry. I’m still learning so much from my parents. Over the past couple of years when I became full-time at our campground, I really wanted to delve into the industry as a whole and network with like-minded individuals. 

I learned about the National School a couple of years ago, and it was something I really was interested in. This year I was like, you know what? Let me just see if I can get a scholarship, but either way, I’m interested in going. Then, after attending OHCE for the first time in 2023, I saw what this community was all about and what could be gained from OHI programs. So I was really glad to be awarded a National School scholarship to be able to take the next step in networking, solidifying my skills, and learning with my industry peers.

What was it like to grow up in a family of campground owners?

My grandparents were really cool. They started looking at purchasing campgrounds back in the ‘70s. This opportunity just became available, and they jumped on it. To me, it is the most beautiful property ever, but I’m very biased on that [laughs]. We’re right on the river, it is so perfect. And then my parents became really involved, and now here I am. But, it was definitely different to grow up in this industry. I didn’t necessarily have a traditional summer vacation from school. I would be working alongside my family, which was also incredible because my friends would come and they would vacation essentially in my backyard. I met so many of my closest friends from growing up at my campground, which is the best. I think growing up and seeing the love my parents had for the business, it just trickled over into me. I could not see myself anywhere else. I love it. 

Growing up on a campground means you’ve already got quite a bit of experience, but what are you most looking forward to learning at National School?

I definitely have learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn.  Once my parents saw that I had a strong interest in this career, they’ve been amazing teachers. Even just watching them throughout life, how they handle situations with campers, I think that set the best foundation for growth and for learning overall. Looking over the curriculum that is offered at National School, it’s valuable information for anybody in the industry, but especially those who are looking to grow within their campgrounds, RV parks, or anywhere in the outdoor hospitality industry. I’m really interested in learning about team building with your own team in your park and delving into campgrounds in general – how to run things smoothly, what ideas I can gain from it, all of it. 

Congrats on your new role as OHI’s Young Professionals Co-Chair! What are you most looking forward to with this new position? 

I’m super lucky to be able to work every single day with my family, so I was chatting with them and I was saying that I would love to get out there and help anybody who’s just starting out in the industry, young professionals specifically, who are looking to grow or start a new park.

So, when this opportunity presented itself to run for the Co-Chair of the Young Professionals group through OHI, I definitely wanted to jump on it because it gets my foot in the door for so many opportunities. 

Just from talking to other young professionals at OHCE in Kansas City, it seems like across the board, campgrounds in general have been known as primarily opportunities for summer jobs.. People come home from college, and they are able to work during their local campground’s busy season. Upon graduation, they move onto their chosen career paths. But it doesn’t have to stop when the summer ends. This can be so much more than just a summer job, it really can be a career path of its own. 

One of my main goals is to set up a  valuable network of resources w for people who are really struggling with a certain aspect at their own parks. They can then find connections and pull together resources to help build their park and grow within their own community. 

What is an issue or a subject that you think will be a focus for the industry in the future? 

Expanding. The industry as a whole has expanded to become more inclusive. I think it might help people get more ideas. They don’t necessarily need to have a campground or an RV park, it could be anything else that we come up with that falls within this category. I think networking is such a big part of what we do, and being in hospitality, we naturally enjoy talking to people, getting people’s opinions, and using those opinions. That’s how we grow and that’s how we learn, sort of going off of what everybody else is doing, but putting our own spin to it and making it unique. I think if we’re able to get out there and help each other branch out and discover new ideas, we could put some more passion into the industry.