Lakewood is a classic rags-to-riches story. It’s founder, Carl Perry, was born in Lake City, South Carolina, right on the heels of the great depression. Like so many men and women at that time, he had to drop out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family. He was very ambitious, uniquely creative, intensely driven, and extremely charismatic. He and his brother, at some point, built a used car business in Lake City but, Carl had bigger plans and he sold his side of the business, and set his sights on Myrtle Beach. He had a sincere desire to succeed for his growing family of four children. He literally moved here without a plan, took everything they had, and bought a small piece of property across from the State Park. He initially built and rented out cinder block apartments to members of the U.S. Air Force. Then, having been inspired by the State Park, he decided that property might be better used as a campground. And, in 1959, Camp Beachwood officially became the first family-owned campground on the Grand Strand. Then, in 1961, he found the property where we are located now, and changed the name from Camp Beachwood to Lakewood Family Campground.
Carl and Marion Perry had four children. They built this business with their family working alongside of them. Together they became true pioneers, redefining what camping would become. What they were doing back then, in building this campground, had never been done before. They were one the first to implement sewage and electricity hookups at every site. Then they added modern bath houses and themed pools. They added a miniature golf course, an arcade, a general store, and other amenities that campers didn’t typically find at campgrounds at that time. They wanted to redefine the way campers camp. As a result, Lakewood Campground quickly became the worldwide standard by which all other campgrounds were measured. You could literally go to any campground in the world, and they would know about Lakewood.
Carl Perry passed away in 1980. At that point, Marion and the four kids formed an operating board of directors. That is when we became Lakewood Camping Resort, the first campground to transform into a full fledged vacation resort.
By this time, Phil Perry was the President of the Company. He and his siblings would always ask themselves what they, as young families themselves, wanted out of their own family vacations. They concluded that they loved to vacation in big resorts around the world, but they really preferred the company of the people they met at the campground. They would say, “We love all the amenities at big resorts, but we also love the family culture that comes with camping. We prefer a Resort as the place we vacation, but we prefer campers as the people we vacation with. Why can’t we vacation the way we want to vacation, but with the people whom we want to vacation?” So, building on the idea of marrying what they loved about vacation resorts with the culture they loved about camping, they started adding everything they liked about resorts to Lakewood. From cable TV at every site, phones at every site (before everyone had cell phones), a computer center, resort-wide free WiFi, and other technologies early on. They also added vacation rentals for people who enjoy camping culture but didn’t own a camper. We now offer around 1,300 campsites and 1,100 vacation homes with over 100 vacation rentals.”
Phil died in 1996. Since then, Barbara Benton, Shannon Gomer, and Don Perry have each taken turns running Lakewood, and continuing to lead and define the industry. Currently, Don Perry serves as president, however, our family still operates via the four-member board of directors, that now includes a member of the third generation of our family, Blayne Perry. What has changed in recent years, is that we now have a General Manager, Robert Clinger, who runs the day to day operations for the Camping Resort; allowing the Board of Directors to concentrate on the ever evolving vision for the the Resort. The Board meets often to hash out ideas, and often even includes other third and fourth generation family members in discussions about the future of the resort. We ask for new ideas from our kids, and grandkids so that we can continue to evolve and to meet the modern needs of a young family. We have always started the brainstorming process with the simple question, “What is it that a young family wants out of a vacation, and how can we give it to them?”
Some of the newest ways we are continuing to innovate, and stay that by which all other camping resorts are measured, are: Our very own full sized water park, a gym, several restaurants and food trucks (that can deliver to your site or villa), an indoor pool, beachfront playground, beach volleyball courts, beachfront basketball courts, free bike rentals, golf cart rentals, multiple water crafts at your disposal, and much, much more. But probably the most important innovations have been in the area of technology. We are doing things that no one else has even considered. First, we developed a wristband system to make it easier for our guests to use our included amenities around the park. Then, we enhanced that technology to include using your waterproof wristbands as your wallet, making your entire experience here a cashless one. You just scan your wristband anywhere in the park to pay for food, beverages, souvenirs, etc. Then, we created our My Lakewood Guest Portal. It’s a digital tool used for managing your entire vacation from your Mobile Phone, your Tablet, or your Computer. You can see specials we are running, add or transfer money to and from your family’s wristbands, and take advantage of our other new resort feature – our Loyalty Program, where guest can earn points that translate into spendable credits on their next visit! That’s just some of the new stuff we are doing, and we have a lot more industry changing innovations already being developed.
We put a lot of energy into our family’s business and our family, so that we can continue to serve your family for generations to come. We believe that remaining a family run business is the only way to ensure that we, as a company, are always looking out for the families that vacation with us. It’s what gives us the edge, and insight to focus on the needs of our customers. Carl Perry included his kids from the very beginning, and that tradition is what has kept us going for over half a century; and will keep us going for centuries to come!