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WeAreOHI: Christa Neundorfer

When Christa and Jonathan Neundorfer first dipped their toes into the waters of the outdoor hospitality industry, it was by accident. The couple were on Craigslist searching for a sailboat with a plan to adventure out on the open seas, but they instead happened across a deal on an RV that they could not pass up. They never would have expected that decision would lead them on the path to running an award-winning RV park in the snowy mountains of Utah. 

“It’s kind of surreal,” Christa said. “Eventually, our retirement plan still is to one day be on a sailboat and go enjoy the offshore. When we first came here, my expectations were that we would help oversee the building of this park, and then we would move on and go somewhere else. I don’t think we expected to settle and build roots somewhere. But, when you love something so much and you have such a great relationship with the people that you work with, it really just changes the dynamics of your expectations.” 

Before they arrived in Utah, the Neundorfers moved into a 1995 Tiffin Allegro and ended up in Woodland Park, Colorado, which is where they first learned about work camping. 

After some time spent in the Allegro, they upgraded to a Zinger and found their first work camping gig at a Christmas tree lot in California. 

“At that point, work camping was not a career,” Christa said. “There was no mindset that you can go and work at a campground and make a career out of it. It was strictly to work in exchange for your site; it wasn’t anything more than that.”

They asked themselves, what’s stopping us from making a career out of it? So, they did exactly that, bouncing around to different parks across the country, picking up a continuous flow of odd jobs at RV parks and campgrounds and resorts, eventually working their way up from housekeeping to operations. 

But by 2018, the Neundorfers had reached a tipping point in their journey.

“We realized we don’t want to work under anybody anymore unless it’s a really great, cohesive relationship.” 

They wanted to build their very own park from scratch, which is how they ended up at Aspen Grove RV Park in Tremonton, Utah. After interviewing with investors for months, the Neundorfers were able to take on the role of operators at the park. 

“They gave us the opportunity to fully oversee and build the park from the ground up.” 

The opportunity paid off. In 2021, Aspen Grove was named Small Park of the Year at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE) during OHI’s Awards of Excellence ceremony. In 2022, Christa was awarded the Campground Partner of the Year Award. 

“I did not expect that at all. It was wild,” Christa said. “I would not be able to stretch myself without having the team that we have and having my husband. So to be awarded a campground partner award specifically to me, I feel like it’s not just for me, it’s for the park. Even though it has my name on the award, I would not be able to do what I do outside of the park without any of them.”

In 2023, they made their way to the stage again. Aspen Grove won the Plan-It Green Park of the Year for its sustainability efforts such as operating a community garden and compost station, limiting light pollution, and using all-natural cleaning products throughout the park. 

“If every single park did one small thing to be more sustainable, just imagine the amount of good that we could do,” Christa said. “Every single day we’re trying different things to be earth-conscious. Our goal is to pass that on to our guests so that maybe they’ll be a little more mindful even if they’re not here, moving forward, wherever else they may go.” 

Christa was also able to work on the Handbook for Outdoor Hospitality alongside other luminaries in the industry with the goal of sharing tips and knowledge with the hopes of improving the industry as a whole. 

“I got to work with amazing human beings that have been in the industry for decades, like Kathy Palmeri. She has so much insight and knowledge. Our goal was trying to motivate other campground owners and operators to want to do and be better.” 

Another major source of inspiration for Christa is OHI. After attending her first conference in 2018, she made sure her husband came with her the next year. She has been a regular at the gatherings ever since. 

“The industry is ever-changing. Even within a six-year span from my first interactions with OHI, it’s constantly changing. The dynamics of your clientele are changing; the people that are going out and buying RVs are changing.”

“It’s not just the sessions that they’re providing and the time that they take to bring in these experts that know about a specific topic, but it’s also the relationships that you build with other operators, owners, managers, and team members. They all have experiences and stories to tell you, and they also have ideas. Everyone has something to bring to the table. That networking aspect, creating these friendships with like-minded people in the industry all over the country, it’s kind of game-changing.”