“Hey, Mr. Kelly!” A greeting likely exclaimed dozens of times a day when Kelly Watson is manning his post at the main gate of Lakewood Camping Resort.
He’s a familiar face to many as they pass.
Now, that main entrance he so passionately guards will forever bare his name. The security booth was vehemently named after the Lakewood veteran employee on Thursday – an eternal legacy.
Watson’s Lakewood story started in the 1990s. He says he was a storage customer for several years before deciding to make Lakewood his permanent home. In 1996, he parked his camper at Lakewood for one final time, becoming an Annual Lease resident.
Eventually, his home also became his place of employment. Fast forward to 2024 and Watson has worked for Lakewood for more than 20 years, wearing many hats over the last two decades.
After being presented with the sign, which reads “Kelly Gate”, Watson reflected on the years of punching a timecard at Lakewood. He listed off a string of roles including chef, rally coordinator, event coordinator, food & beverage manager and, what we know him as today, security guard.
Watson also co-founded the Annual Grillers Cup with his late friend and co-worker, Claude McSwain. The wing and barbecue competition, which is held at Lakewood Camping Resort every September, benefits local non-profit Backpack Buddies.
Remember the Little Red Trailer? Then you’ve probably tasted some of Watson’s dishes! Guests who camped with us from about 2007 to 2020 remember the eatery that used to reside beside the Indoor Pool. Watson says it was known for its ribs, barbecue, seafood, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, steamed shrimp, corn dogs, and poutine.
Above all, Watson says it’s the community that makes him enjoy clocking in and out day after day, year after year.
“I just enjoy working with the people,” Watson says.
And the people, love Watson right back.
“Kelly is one of those people that guests always ask for by name, wondering if he still works here,” explains Chris Brigham, Lakewood’s Director of Security.
Lakewood Camping Resort is proud to have employees like Watson who become a part of the resort’s culture and the camping experience we foster for guests.
Thank you, Mr. Kelly for dedicating decades to Lakewood and its camping family.