PHOENIX, Ariz. — For the second time in two years, Dr. Saundra Bryn has received the Chairman’s Award from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
The award is presented in recognition of individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve the outdoor hospitality industry. Dr. Bryn also received the ARVC Foundation’s Education Award in recognition of her years of volunteer efforts helping to develop curriculum and educational programing for campground, RV park and resort operators across the country.
“It was wonderful to receive these awards and recognition by the outdoor hospitality industry,” said Dr. Bryn, a Phoenix, Ariz. resident who previously was co-owner and manager of Desert’s Edge RV Park, an award-winning Phoenix, Ariz. snowbird destination that was named one of the top 10 urban RV parks in America in 2014 by USA Today.
ARVC Chairman Al Johnson presented the Chairman’s Award –
which recognizes those who go beyond the call of duty to further the outdoor hospitality industry – during the association’s Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo in Oklahoma City, Okla. in November.
Dr. Bryn received her first Chairman’s Award in November of 2016, just two weeks after ARVC received notification that it had been accredited by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Dr. Bryn, who joined ARVC’s Education Committee in 2007, and Barb Youmans, ARVC’s senior education director and executive director of the ARVC Foundation, had spent six years working to refine the education program to meet IACET standards and to promote IACET standards as a benchmark for quality program delivery.
Now that the ARVC Foundation has been approved as an IACET accredited provider, the ARVC Foundation can provide classes for which students can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and submit those CEUs for possible credit at 2,200 colleges and universities.
In addition to working to improve education opportunities for park operators, Dr. Bryn served on ARVC’s Public Affairs Committee from 2011 to 2016, which gave her the chance to work with Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, and other park operators who help direct ARVC’s responses to a variety of legislative and regulatory issues affecting private parks across the country.
The 2018 and 2016 ARVC Chairman’s Awards and the 2018 ARVC Foundation Education Award are the latest awards Dr. Bryn has received from the campground industry. In early 2016, she received the Jack Denton Award from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Arizona ARVC).
The award is named in honor of Jack Denton, a campground and RV park industry pioneer who founded the Flagstaff KOA and helped establish the precursor of Arizona ARVC, the Arizona Campground Owners Association, as well as the national organization that later became the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Interestingly, Dr. Bryn always thought she would be an educator. Both of her parents were teachers. She majored in English and elementary education and eventually earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. In fact, her first job was teaching at a public school in Minot, N.D.
But Dr. Bryn’s father, Odin Bryn, relocated the family to Arizona in 1969 after being blacklisted for participating in a teacher’s strike in Minot. Dr. Bryn herself was a teacher at that time and opted to relocate to Arizona as well, along with several other teachers’ strike participants from North Dakota.
But while most of the North Dakota teachers resumed their teaching careers in the Phoenix area, Dr. Bryn’s father decided he had had enough of teaching — and school politics — and built an RV park, using funds from family and fellow teachers who relocated to the Phoenix area after the strike.
“Many of the teachers invested in the park, but didn’t come to build it,” Dr. Bryn said. “There were four or five teachers who did the big work on the park. Except for my dad, all of them had teaching jobs. They worked on the park on weekends and during the summer.”
Desert’s Edge RV opened in 1970 with a handful of campsites. But over the years, the Bryn family expanded the park.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bryn pursued her Arizona education career – first teaching junior high students for a number of years and then becoming a Language Arts Curriculum Specialist in a large Phoenix school district.
She later became principal in an outlying Phoenix school district that served students from low-income and migrant families. “It was a place where you could do incredible work,” she said.
It was there that Dr. Bryn discovered a talent for grant writing.
“We needed funding so desperately,” she said. “I wrote grants – first for the school and later for the district. Because I was bringing in money for the school, I was asked to become director of research and development so we could generate more grant money for Dysart Unified School District. From 1989 to 1999, we brought in over $3 million.”
The grants brought new class curriculum and technology to Dysart Middle School as well as Dysart High School, essentially bringing the schools into the 21st century. Bryn also helped generate funds for special education, bilingual education programs, cultural diversity, homeless assistance, trade apprenticeships, and many other programs.
Bryn eventually became a professor at Arizona State University, where she spent a decade teaching aspiring teachers how to teach.
But destiny caught up with her.
Dr. Bryn’s father died in 1997, and the family initially hired a manager to oversee Desert’s Edge RV. But the manager didn’t meet the family’s expectations, and the park started to fall into disrepair. It got to the point where Dr. Bryn felt compelled to leave her education career so that she could oversee the park on her own.
“Part of the reason I went out there was because we had so much invested in the property,” she said. “I also knew I could make things better.”
By 2000, Dr. Bryn was working at Desert’s Edge RV full time. She educated herself in the RV park business by attending the Arizona ARVC conference and by attending two years at the National School of RV Park Management in Oglebay, W.V.
Dr. Bryn also became active with the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, holding board positions beginning in 2002.
She also got involved with ARVC at the national level, serving on the Council of Delegates from 2003 to 2011; the ARVC board from 2011 to 2016; and the ARVC Foundation board from 2007 to the present.
SOURCE: ARVC press release