>> Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Todd and Amy Warren wanted to get away from the rat race and seek a quieter, more peaceful life. An opportunity to manage a new campground and outdoors store at Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County seemed like the perfect fit.
More than two years later, the couple couldn’t be happier with the choice they made.
“It seemed right,” said Todd, a Navy veteran who sports a mischievous grin. “We love the outdoors. We love living on the lake. We home school the kids.”
Todd and Amy are managers of Bayview Campground & Outpost, located on North Shore Drive, about six miles east of Hillsboro. Bayview boasts that it has the lake’s largest tackle inventory, hunting and fishing licenses, specialty bass baits, water sports, boating, camping and hunting supplies, and free coffee throughout the day.
“Yes, free coffee,” confirms Amy. “We like to encourage people to drop by and just hang around and talk.” In fact, the store has become a central gathering point at Rocky Fork.
Amy was raised in the country, and was working as an accountant for Kathleen Madison, a Wilmington businesswoman who owned Bayview, which at the time was a trailer park. Madison wanted to transform the park into a campground and outdoors facility, and turned to Todd and Amy to oversee the business.
As Todd describes the business and its amenities while relaxing inside one of two cabins on the property, Amy keeps a close eye on their 14-month-old toddler, Todd Jr., an obviously happy child who busily litters the floor with educational cards and small toys. Amy’s two older sons, Skylar, 14, and Hayden, 10, soon join them for a family photo. Amy is expecting another child in November, this time a girl whom they’ll name Abigail Keta-Marie Warren.
It’s appropriate that Bayview is operated by a family, because promoting a family atmosphere is what the Warren’s are working to achieve.
“People want more of a family atmosphere campground,” says Todd. “They want a place that’s safe for children and grandchildren.” At Bayview, children who are camping with their families at seasonal sites become part of a tight-knit community. “Everybody looks out for them,” says Todd. “They all play with each other, and everyone keeps an eye on them.”
Bayview offers 31 campsites with an abundance of shade and privacy. It’s a short walk to the docks and beach – “just 75 yards,” assures Todd -- and pull-through sites and seasonal camping are available and frequently booked. Pets are welcomed, and free Wi-Fi is also provided. Campers come from all over, but especially from Chillicothe, Columbus, Dayton and Xenia.
Clean new showers, flush toilets, a laundry facility and dump station are available onsite. The two available cottages with lake views sleep up to four, and include kitchen and bath.
The Warrens regularly plan events for campers and guests, ranging from corn hole tournaments to apple bobbing contests to chili cook-offs and pumpkin carving. The business caters to hunters and fishers, and the store has increased the kind of merchandise outdoorsmen are typically seeking. Bayview is also a check-in and weigh-in station.
The business has become a favorite destination for regional bass clubs and other organizations, and a draw for fishing tournaments. “Two or three tournaments have come here specifically because of Bayview’s outreach,” says Todd. Bayview gives back through various donations and events, such as free cookouts and campouts. And despite a poor economy, 2011 “has been our best year so far,” says Todd.
The Warrens make visitors feel right at home. When a participant in a fishing tournament recently found himself without accommodations, the Warrens invited him to spend the night on their couch, an invitation he happily accepted.
“That’s just the way we are,” says Todd.
Bayview Campground & Outpost is located at 11104 North Shore Drive. It can reached by phone at 937-393-3119, or by email at email@example.com. It is online at www.rockyforkparks.com.
By Gary Abernathy