Weaver Park Campground summer student Josee Kreese, right, chats with Alisha Dennison and her husband Shawn visiting Llloydminster from Medicine Hat. Kreese goes back to UBC in Kelowna B.C. on Sept. 1. to start her second year of studies. GEOFF LEE LSS PHOTO
If first impressions count, Weaver Park Campground is helping to make Lloydminster look good for visitors.
The city-owned campground is managed by JB Project Services, that puts a premium on friendliness and cleanliness to attract tourists to the 57-site campground located on 45 Ave.
The face of the visitor experience is manager Dave Hennessey, who does his best to keep the testimonials positive.
“It’s nice to experience Lloydminster from the perspective of someone who has never been here before,” said Hennessey, who lives on site with his wife Nicole and their seven-month-old son.
“Just like for you and me, if we have never been to the Grand Canyon, Lloydminster is an incredible experience.”
As for Weaver Park, many of the visitor comments posted in the office or online declare it to be one the best campgrounds they’ve stayed at with full service sites and new well-kept washrooms.
Jocelyn McLaughlin and her husband Bill from Grande Prairie gave their overnight stay in their RV last week an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“We really quite like it; it’s very nice; it’s got grass,” said Jocelyn, who also liked the level pad.
Hennessey said most campers like the fact each site has a sewer hookup with electricity, drinkable city water and Wi-Fi service.
“There are some treed sites here where you wouldn’t even know you were in the middle of the city,” he added.
He also believes they have some of the best washrooms in Canada for a trailer park, and maybe in North American too.
The task of keeping the washrooms spic and span falls to summer students like Lloydminster’s Josee Kreese, who is a Jill of all trades with the job title of director of marketing and social media.
She does all the bookings and reservations and park promotion on social media in her second summer at the camp.
She calls it a fun place to work.
“I get to spend lots of time outside and I meet all sorts of people from all over the world as well,” she said.
The other students are Caleb Paterson, the director of safety who wants to be an electrician and Josee’s kid brother, Kody, a part time employee who will follow his sister’s footsteps as a freshmen student at UBC in Kelowna in September.
“They are all fantastic students; they are all going on to bigger and better things,” said Hennessey, with Josee on hand to speak more about her campground experience.
The 19 year-old will start her second year of studies toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Kelowna, and says working at the camp will help her if she decides to go to med school and get her masters.
“It definitely helps me with my people skills because I meet all sorts of people,” she said.
“There’s all sorts of problem resolutions and you meet lots of people with different personalities.”
She says a lot of visitors are surprised at how big the sites are, and she’s surprised by how many people from the United States are travelling to Alaska.
“It seems like Lloydminster is one of the major stopping points for the people that are travelling to Alaska and then home,” she said.
She is also privy to hearing a lot of road trip stories along with odd and funny comments and perceptions about Lloydminster as a border city.
“The other day someone had to get their vehicle towed by CAA and they asked me if there are going to be border charges from Alberta to Saskatchewan,” she said.
“I found that kinda of funny.”
She also gets a lot of questions about time changes and taxes on the Alberta and Saskatchewan sides of Lloydminster.
The park is open from April to the end of October and there is never a dull moment for Hennessey and his crew.
“It’s always busy” he said.
“We were super busy for the first two and a half to three months because of the Husky upgrader shutdown; we were completely full with the contract workers,” he said.
The campground was full again for the recent U18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch tournament.
“We see people from all over the world,” said Hennessey.
He said one of the most interesting parts of the job is trying to communicate with someone that doesn’t speak English.
Staff solve that problem by passing a laptop back and forth to visitors to type and translate messages using Google translator.
A highlight for the camp last year was sponsoring overnight stays in partnership with the city for Fort McMurray residents fleeing the wildfires that ravaged their city.
“This year it was the same thing with the fires in B.C.,” said Hennessey.
“We had one guy who drove about 18 hours because it was bumper to bumper traffic.
“He stayed here until it was safe to go home.”