Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

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Chuck Lutz
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Mon May 08, 2017 9:56 am

OK, here is how it went down for me...
1) I picked up Jody Larkins who flew into Oakland at the Petaluma Airporter after picking up Mike O'Connell at SFO that morning.
2) I had my little G529 packed with goodies to sell and would be sleeping in my truck, the others at the big tent we share and the motel
3) Got to the Front Desk about 12 or 1pm and checked in.
4) Signed the guys in on my reg. form and Keith who would be coming in his SUV later on, I left him a wristband and parking pass.

so far, so good....

5) two hours later, Keith comes trudging up the $%#@ hill and says he got his wristband but his parking pass was only for the boondocks and he couldn't park in my space.
6) I did the only possible thing I could think of....I removed the parking pass from my rear view mirror and gave it to him like any normal person would do.
7) I did note that the golf cart Polizei were taking notes when they came around that my truck had the pass but Keith's did not. I'm sure someone will make a big deal out of THAT!

I came to SELL...I did not come to browse and buy so aside from trips to the latrine and my one walk down to Jo-Ann's cabin to get signed up for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, I never left the site.

I sold stuff, but every buyer had an MVCC name tag on....there were no non-members and certainly none of the public we usually get came around!

Ten bucks to enter? No Senior discount? No Kids Free? Shuttle starts at 10am? Waiting for the shuttle for half hour or longer? I know of one guy from Napa who just turned around and left. I heard another who came to pick up parts from a vendor was equally pissed off about that and left.

Exactly WHERE and WHO got the ten bucks anyway? The KOA or what?

I am considering not staying at the KOA next year at all....you pay two hundred bucks for three nights as I always do?
Hey, I live about 12-13 miles from the place so maybe I'll pass on it all and just day-trip for a day or two. That's ten or twenty bucks and I can still enjoy the social scene with my friends and probably set up a table to sell in their spot.

The thrill (for me) is gone....
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Kim Sievert » Tue May 09, 2017 8:48 am

The same type of thing was said about Tower Park, the first years.
(Remember the coin operated extra chilled showers, with the very easily plugged up toilets and the wasp attracting trashcans provided in holes, just in front of campsites)

Tower Park evolved over time.
Camping spaces first got scarce, then went to none available, and then you needed to get on a wait list, till a space became available.

(Thank you wagon master, JoAnn, for all your hard work in camping spot control.)
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by softskin_driver » Tue May 09, 2017 11:11 am

Hi everyone I am well aware as is the board of the issues we need to address.
The gate charge by the way after expenses were paid which was the cost to provide the shuttle $500 a day for Friday and Saturday went to the EMU Huey and Vietnam vets group.
The MVCC did not elect to leave Tower Park we were told that there were changes in progress that would not give us the space we need. And we were asked to move on.
There was a long search that started just before and lasted until just after the 2016 convention for a new place that would give us the room and amenities we are used to.
I personally drove to many of the parks suggested. Petaluma KOA is the best of those.
It was suggested we not have a 2017 spring meet until we had more time to find the "perfect place".
This did not sit well with me as this is the clubs 40th anniversary.
I had a meeting last Thursday with the camp ground owner Woody we talked about the issues.
The biggest is Parking we solve that and we may get him to adjust some of the other issues.
Look at it from his point of view he has to keep the traffic lanes open and keep those driving around to just our MV's or it will be dangerous for the kids and others on foot.
I have heard the complaints about the hills. I have a heart condition and walked the place several times a day.
Those that had there Jeeps were seen driving if you have a condition that makes walking up slight grades for short distances difficult bring your Jeep.
It has been said to me by a few that if we want a vendor meet then we should go to a fairgrounds or if we want a campout with our vehicles were we visit with friends and have some fun like bringing in the Huey or to go on convoys to the beach then we need a campground. With that in mind I have visited both fairgrounds in Pleasanton and Turlock.
I won't drag this out with what I found but I do not think that's our solution either.
So if you have a solution in mind please share it.
If you have been to a campground or would like to go out and drive around Northern California to look for one please do so.
Take lots of pictures and get a discription of the amenities like cabins, shade, local hotels and what the closet city has to offer for food and shopping.
You can send that info to any board member and we will take a look at your suggestions.
I would like to thank all that came to Camp Petaluma and those that came by the quartermasters tent to say hi and renew their membership. Special thanks to those that brought vehicles and to John Sorensen for bringing the PBR out and to Randy Parent for flying the Huey in and for the rides. Thanks everyone!
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Tue May 09, 2017 2:30 pm

Dave....the shuttle was only on Fri/Sat? Why not 8-5pm every day from Wed through Sunday since we had a "four day minimum"? Starting at 10am as I was told was not a good idea.
How many vehicles were doing shuttle work and is that why some people complained after 30 minutes that it did not come?
I dig the Huey also, but is the purpose of the Huey to sell rides to the club and the public, then why not charge that "fee" as a part of the Huey package? I kinda woulda liked to see one or two non-members wandering around but I didn't. Making 90% of the potential visitors to the meet fork over ten bucks for a helicopter they would not be riding in is not in my estimation the best way to go, sorry but that's my opinion here.

I get it...on the 40th Anny we had NO place to go! So Petaluma KOA was a compromise. It worked for some, it did not work for others. As the ages of the long-time club members gets higher and mobility becomes an issue, flat ground is not a benefit it is a necessity! I'm surprised we didn't have at least one heart attack this year with the up/down hill climbs you needed to go out and visit friends. There used to be a map of the TP KOA at registration back in the day so you could find people which I did not see this year, maybe I missed it. I don't have the phone number of everyone I am used to saying Hi to and checking out their parts stuff or vehicles so I missed that.

look....I applaud the work it takes to find and secure a place for the club and to negotiate on the members behalf, don't for a minute think I don't acknowledge that....but a simple "one page" on "How To Do Petaluma KOA" in the previous months newsletter we could tear out and take with us might have prevented a lot of confusion at their Checkpoint Charlie registration area.

So...here are my Top Ten suggestions for next year to be negotiated with Woody NOW....
1) Issue parking tags to each space for more than ONE vehicle and for every MV they bring
2) The wristband thing was pointless, useless, and a PITA
3) Signage directing us to the sites on the left and down on the dry camping flats to the right and basically AWAY from the spaces held back for long term rentals there would have been helpful.
4) A "bulletin board" at the Pavilion or wherever that weekly/daily events and schedules and a map of who is where should be added to help people figure out a new location for friends and acquaintenances. We all knew TP like the back of our hand....people were wandering around this KOA surprised to find us.
5) WHAT PBR? A best kept secret to our group!
6) We put eleven people in four campsites this year and have in the past had over fifteen in six at TP so we are used to crowding, how about giving us access in a better way than they did this year? If my guests arrived BEFORE me they could not get into the site to set up anything, they could not even DRIVE in to drop off their gear!
7) I left Keith a parking pass and wristband and he could not get in to park in MY space? That is how we can cram so many people into the number of sites so "the system" failed, that needs to be reviewed as well.
8) I saw the ends of the pull-throughs get the grass damaged....how about we get fifty or sixty orange traffic cones to help alleviate that next time, guys can't even SEE where the road and the grass converge.
9) The swampy parking area will probably be swampy next year....its wetter in Petaluma and it rains in April a lot anyway so having to park in Cleveland isn't an endearing approach to visitors and members' co-campers....I didn't see a SINGLE sign on Wednesday about Registration, parking, shuttles, trash, showers, the fact the pool WASN'T heated or anything...why was that?
10) Somebody send Jo-Ann a case of wine or something....again...if she had not taken over the pre reg this year it would have been a complete disaster.

Finally, tell Woody his restroom cleaners should get a bonus....the one opposite our sites of S-214 through S-217 was cleaned constantly and was always sparkling!

To end this...I think better communications on what we could expect might make the reality of what the KOA has up there a bit better. I know I knew LESS about this KOA than I did the first day we moved into Tower Park in every way.
Chuck Lutz

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Tue May 09, 2017 10:18 pm

Chuck
I have never read such a negative review of an event, part of which appears to be based on ignorance of published advertising in places you should be watching before and during an event such as this. You also seem to lack tolerance for volunteers trying to do the best they can. I am too busy at my real job to respond in detail today, but will soon in every detail. If you want to edit any of the content of your letter please do so.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by 199th MP » Wed May 10, 2017 5:12 am

as a possible future location, has anyone given any thought to Cal Expo in sacramento? i don't know the status of their spaces to park or camp, but it seems to me they must exist for the workers that accompany the various fairs and horse races that are held there. there are also several very large buildings which could easily accommodate all of the vendors, both commercial and private. being held right in the city would be a drawback, of course, but it's flat, and the buildings are air conditioned.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Wed May 10, 2017 9:17 am

John....I call 'em as I see 'em and my comparison to how things were done at TP is an example of reaching out to our members and visitors right at the Front Desk. Why the lessons learned with growing pains at TP were not fully implemented at Petaluma surprises me.

It may seem to be a negative view of the event but if nobody stands up and says what they and others felt about it then things won't improve....people complained at TP and things got better, I think we deserve the right to complain about Petaluma just as much.

It isn't a personal attack on anyone so don't look at it like that...but I think it is important to say what your experience was and I hope others will also, be they good or bad....that's how things get changed, isn't it?

I applaud the work of our volunteers....but in my estimation maybe we put ourselves in a position to not afford the club and our visitors (the source of new membership!) the best possible experience when we moved to a KOA within a MUCH higher population area under the circumstances that prevailed at Petaluma....on the other hand I certainly get it...it seems to be the only game in town unless we leave the central CA area and nobody wants to drive any further than we used to do at Waterford or Big Bear any longer.

Dammnned if we do....dammned if we don't...but there is some room for improvement in my mind.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by JOHNJRV » Wed May 10, 2017 3:40 pm

I guess I can comment on the Cal Expo Sacramento location. It cost the MVPA $58,000 to rent "part" of the Pleasanton Fairgrounds for 3 days. I assume Cal Expo in Sacramento would be similar to Pleasanton Fairgrounds. But even if we could get it cheaper like say $40,000 we couldn't do it because the MVCC budget for renting any place for a Military Vehicle Meet is $0.

All KOA's in California have been looked at as well as many different fairgrounds and private locations etc... Fairgrounds cost money, then you need access to bathrooms and showers and campsites and spaces and parking. When you "rent" a fairgrounds, you rent each building individually as well as restrooms, parking area, parking lots, etc. Then the attendees will have parking and entrance fees just like train shows and gun shows and they only use it for one day.

I don't want to discourage anyone from continuing to look for a place that is bigger and better, you never know what someone out there can find, but its important to know that we have been looking for a place since we heard the news about Tower Park in April 2016, a year ago. If you find a place that is bigger and better then you should take pictures, get information and then contact your Board members asap.

Keep your heads up, always remember that it can always be worse. And it goes without saying that the MVCC Board as well as volunteers are working on their own time to make Camp Petaluma better,now that we have the first ever Camp Petaluma out of the way we can fix areas that need fixing. Being on the inside I can honestly say that there is A LOT of action going on that people don't see out in the open. The board is always looking out for the best interest of the membership, after all we are all members.

If you can volunteer to help at Camp Petaluma please contact your local board member or myself, your club secretary, and I will write your information down. Area's that need volunteers; street sign makers, shuttle volunteers with their military vehicles, MVCC booth volunteers, club raffle volunteers etc. Sign for a shift? Have an idea? Let me know? If your not sure just ask me?

I've been a member of the MVCC off and on since 1990, the first time I volunteered was to run for secretary a couple of years ago, I now have great appreciation for all previous and present volunteers. And, it does feel good to be part of something, I think that volunteering will enhance your experience in the club.

The MVCC belongs to its members, its only as good as its members/board are willing to participate in one way or another. I/WE are ONE... :wink:
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Greg Lalonde » Wed May 10, 2017 6:12 pm

im just curious if chuck paid a visit to the koa petaluma, before his arrivial to the camp ground for the spring meet.i personally visited the camp ground three times before deciding where i would like to have my camp site.granted i dont sell anything.i have a friend who made a number of trips from napa to bring a bunch of things to sell,which to me, takes a lot of fun out of the event.he had no trouble getting his wife,mother and a close friend into the meet.they would call him when they got close and he met them at henny pennys for the ride in.no problem.i hope things work out better for chuck next year if he decides to attend. greg l. p.s. no stress here.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by timsresort » Wed May 10, 2017 7:34 pm

I agree with Johnny, it can indeed always be worse. We could be talking about the good old days when we used to have a spring meet. I also know of the work done by the few in our club made this happen, instead of the alternative. Parking is an issue, as is outsider access. Sounds like this is being addressed, and it will improve. I'm all in for volunteering to run guests up and down the hill for a few hours in a command car, sign up a bunch of us for shifts, and it will get better.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Kim Sievert » Thu May 11, 2017 7:05 am

Chuck
John....I call 'em as I see 'em
How could you not see the PBR, if you did any walking or driving around camp ?
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by JOHNJRV » Thu May 11, 2017 9:08 am

Thanks Tim/Dodge Boys for volunteering, it really does help the club/membership a lot! It helps with getting people from their parking to the event and then back to their parking. It also gives our members a change to show off their military vehicles to the public, how cool is that! And who don't want to ride in a military vehicle from and to their parking lot. Any military vehicle can volunteer. AND it would save the club/membership $2,000 as well as have less complications on where to go. We will set up a big sign/pick up location at the event for pick ups and drop offs and then do the same at the parking area.

The above is an idea we are working on, its an idea that will give the membership a chance to volunteer to be a part of the club's event and help outsiders come in and be part of Camp Petaluma.

We will also be making large poster size board maps of Camp Petaluma with names of members stay at the camp so you can find your friends or venders. One board will be at the office and one will be at the MVCC Booth. We will also print maps you can take with you, those we will give to the shuttle drivers so they can give to the people coming into the event.

We will also make signs that show where the MVCC booth is, where the "Swamp Rats" are, etc...

There are other things we/board/member volunteers are all working on behind the scenes, sometimes some issues are better dealt with over a beer and lunch, meaning negotiations are always ongoing...

Thank you to everyone for helping make the MVCC bigger and better & keep the ideas and suggestions coming!
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Thu May 11, 2017 1:09 pm

Greg....we visited KOA as soon after TP as possible to find the four sites our group needed (down from six and five) and secure "B" row sites. Then when we discovered that section was off-limits, Jo-Ann and I conferred by phone to find four more and got into "S" row and went over there again. Since we drive past KOA twice each weekend on an average of three times a month going to Mike Stopforths, I or the other guys did a recon several times prior to the event. Having to circumvent the KOA by going off property to Henny-Penny to pick up friends is a work-around, not a solution.

Kim....this year I came to sell and mobility issues prevented walking any further than to get with Jo-Ann to reg for the Fall & spring so no, once I was in my spot I didn't wander around this year as I normally do.

I didn't see the PBR on the way in or the way out musta been in the parking area away from us, when did it arrive/depart?

Hey...things don't get fixed if nobody mentions they are broken or in need of change and that starts with communications.

PS...be VERY sure your MV insurance covers you acting as even a non-paid shuttle service! Your foot slips on the brake/clutch when loading/unloading passengers and someone gets seriously hurt and sues you, that might not be so good. The club would need to buy an umbrella policy for 2-5 million to cover volunteer shuttles I would imagine.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by thovis » Thu May 11, 2017 1:14 pm

JOHNJRV wrote: We will also be making large poster size board maps of Camp Petaluma with names of members stay at the camp so you can find your friends or venders. ...
Or you could have looked online
http://legacy.1945gpw.com/mvcc_spring/map.aspx

and the printout version
http://legacy.1945gpw.com/mvcc_spring/tp_map_print.aspx

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by JOHNJRV » Thu May 11, 2017 3:00 pm

Thovis,

That's where I got our maps from for Tower Park and Camp Petaluma. Its always there to be printed and everyone's got access & its free. But next year, just to cover all our bases I will make a LARGE one to set up at the gate and one at the MVCC booth. The map is a great tool to help people get around...
John
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