Living the dream; from big city to Kootenay campground

Former Coachman Campground’s new ownership

The former Coachman Campground is now called KBR under new ownership of the Dodd family, whose children are named Katelyn, Brandon and Riley and first initials form the name. (Photo: KBR website)

The Dodd family is made up of Mike and Christy and their three children: Katelyn, Brandon and Riley. The kids’ initials make up the new name – KBR – for the old Coachman Campground, which they took over in August of 2017. Having relocated to Nakusp to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in B.C., they live on the premises with their youngest, who is 19 and headed off to school at SAIT in Calgary later this year.

Mike grew up in Calgary and Christy in Red Deer, which is where they met 23 years ago. For most of their life together, Christy was a stay-at-home mother and Mike a sales rep in oil and gas, a career which saw the family move nine different times. They lived for nine years in the U.S., the last five of which were in Texas just outside of Houston. Katelyn, 23 is still there finishing college. Brandon, their middle child, 21, is now employed in oil and gas in Calgary.

They took over on August 16, 2017 and since then they have done some major renovations. From the bathrooms to moving the office and getting rid of the swimming pool, big changes have been happening at the property just north of Nakusp on Highway 23 near the Hot Springs Road.

The pool that has been closed for three years either had to be completely repaired or removed because of health concerns. Repairs would have amounted to basically a replacement to the tune of $50,000 in order to reopen it.

Christy Dodd spoke to the Arrow Lakes News, “Let’s just say it needed to be a new pool. We’ve already owned a pool and we know how much work goes into it so we [said] let’s just cement it over” and they plan to transform the space into a common area complete with a party tent for weddings, reunions, and birthdays.

“My husband loved this area. He spent time in Nelson, and [in his previous career] he sold chemicals to treat oil and gas. When things in oil and gas were going downhill, he said I’m done, moving back to Canada. We’ll figure out what to do.”

Since they loved to camp, they thought it might be nice to run a campground, looked out to the Slocan Valley and they narrowed it down to two possibilities. Christy runs the office, does the bookeeping, and handles reception. Mike does maintenance, and has even found himself cleaning the bathrooms. Christy chuckled, “He said after a couple of days ‘I guess we need someone to clean the bathrooms’ and he grabbed the stuff and off he went.”

After five years in Houston, a city of roughly three million people, Dodd says that she prefers small town life. Urban sprawl around the greater Houston area meant that living in a town smaller than Nakusp was just surrounded by other towns and cities with no wide open spaces, “Here it’s so much nicer. I love the small town life.”

KBR boasts forty-two campsites and Christy says it is the only full-service campground in the Nakusp area that supplies water, power and sewage at most of their sites. Plans for the next phase of renovation will equate to a few more winterized campsites for crews, contractors and construction workers who have winterized campers and RVs. Replacing all of the picnic tables, putting in a pond with a waterfall where the office used to be. They raised the office and moved it to make entry easier and are working on an area beside the cabin at the front to lay gravel so people can park. They plan to turn the little house that they are living in into another cabin for rental so that there would be both a one bedroom and a two bedroom cabin available.

“The campground had great bones, but it was tired and the bathrooms were tired. We’ve been trying to spruce it up; trimming, pruning, putting in flower beds,” she explained. In addition, they will be developing some more land for tenting to add to the 6 non-serviced sites currently available. Those sites start at $25, multiple types of sites are available and the priciest is their 30 amp power, water and sewage at $45.

“This is our semi-retirement gig. Mike had always planned to retire in B.C. He was 53 and said ‘if I don’t stop doing what I am doing now, I may not make it to 60.’ It hasn’t really been a slow pace since we started this,” she said laughing, “But we do plan to run this until we can’t physically do it anymore.”

Eventually the property will be on village water and sewage. The pipes are all in but not yet connected.

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