What It’s Like to Be the Chief Marketing Officer at Texas’ Camp Fimfo: A Conversation with Tessa McCrackin
Camp Fimfo, a new campground from Northgate Resorts billed as “a Texas-sized retreat,” is located on the Guadalupe River an hour northeast of San Antonio in picturesque Texas Hill Country. Or at least I’ve been told of the beauty to be found in the region’s rolling hills and wildflower fields. It’s pitch black as I approach Camp Fimfo after sunset; the only things I catch in my headlights are the reflective pupils of dozens of stunned deer along the winding backroads.
It’s only after I pick up my late check-in swag bag from the campground’s front office, and settle into one of the Bluebonnet Cabins for the night, that I begin to relax and take in my surroundings. By this point in my cross-country road trip, I’ve driven more than 4,000 miles, but the plaid everything, felt pennants, golf carts, and other vintage-inspired details scattered around Camp Fimfo make me feel as if I’ve ended up back on the East Coast.
The campground offers hundreds of RV sites in addition to several different glamping-type cabin options, many of which are already occupied on a weeknight in early April. I’m far from alone, but the sheer size of the 400-plus-acre property and blanket of bright stars in the dark sky above reminds me that I am, in fact, still in the middle of the Lone Star State.
Camp Fimfo, which opened in the summer of 2021, is the first of several planned locations for the new Northgate brand. The company also owns dozens of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone parks and other campgrounds around the U.S.; a new Camp Fimfo location is set to open this summer in Waco, Texas.
Tessa McCrackin, the chief marketing officer at Northgate Resorts, says it’s been fun trying to distinguish Camp Fimfo from other campgrounds through branding, accommodations, and amenities (yes, the name is an acronym, and no, I’m not telling you what it stands for—visitors are encouraged to guess). “Jellystone is good for families with kids up to a certain age,” McCrackin says. “And glamping can be super serious. We saw a hole for people in the middle, who want a place that’s really approachable and fun, while still having a campground vibe and upscale amenities.”
We recently spoke with McCrackin about what inspired Camp Fimfo’s playful aesthetic, why she thinks everyone should visit Texas Hill Country, and what’s next for the expanding brand.
Tell us more about Camp Fimfo.
The first Camp Fimfo location is just 1 mile down the road from a Jellystone Park location, but we [at Northgate Resorts] just love the Texas Hill Country area. We plan to expand beyond Texas eventually, but it’s a great camping state and a beautiful area. After Waco, we are hoping to open at least two more locations (not yet announced) in 2023. Amenities will vary by each locale—the first is on the beautiful Guadalupe River, and we’re trying to be very intentional with all of our properties. The Texas Hill Country location features an interactive water playground, mini-golf, gem mining, a general store, and a pool (including a swim bar). We try to provide something for everyone.
What types of accommodations are offered?
We have cabins and red carpet RV sites (which include a concrete pad, grill, picnic table, fire ring, and full hookups). Coyote Cabins have three bedrooms (sleeps up to 12 people), a full kitchen, and private porch; Bluebonnet Cabins have bunk beds, a sleeping loft, and separate main bedroom, and the cozy A-frame Riverview Cabins sleep two people. We don’t yet offer tent sites, but it can get very hot in Texas so they’re not as in demand as our other sites.
What’s next for the new locations?
The Waco location should be open by August 2022. We’re really leaning into the local flare of the area. Our hope is that you can go to all of our different locations and find the same quality of amenities, but still feel as if you’re in a different area of the country because that’s a big part of why people travel. The Texas Hill Country location is all about adventure and the river; Waco will have a different vibe with silo cabins, murals by area artists, and locally-inspired food and merchandise vendors.
Who comes to Camp Fimfo?
For most of our resorts, people will travel 2 to 3 hours on average; there is a lot of travel within Texas, but with more parents working remotely, more families are taking epic road trips where they hit a bunch of stops, especially in the summer. A lot of them were saying, “There’s nothing here for my older kids to do,” at other campgrounds, so there has been an increase in demand for activities for all ages. We’re adding hiking trails, an alpine coaster, and more—even if people don’t notice the details, it might be adding up for them in the back of their minds. It’s really satisfying to see it all come together.
What are some of the main attractions outside of Camp Fimfo?
Camp Fimfo is the perfect place to stay after a concert at the nearby Whitewater Amphitheater (recent acts include Willie Nelson and The Avett Brothers). The whole Hill Country area is really pretty, including historic German towns like Fredericksburg, caverns, and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Tubing on the Guadalupe River is a bucket-list item for many people for good reason—it’s a real party in the summer.
How do your offerings change by the season?
Last year we hosted an immersive fall festival with pumpkins and hay bales, holiday weekends, and a yoga event called Namaste Outside. We’re open year-round; although peak season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, people start coming around spring break, as soon as it gets warm. Make sure to reserve specific dates or sites in advance—in-demand holiday weekends and sought-after sites with river views fill up fast, so book early or be flexible with your travel dates.
What advice would you give to anyone new to camping?
Try different options—maybe choose a cabin over tent camping—and go for a long weekend when you’ll have enough time to experience the campground, but you’re not stuck there for a whole week. If you’re taking your RV out for the first time, don’t go too far: Be reasonably adventurous, but stay within a 1- to 2-hour range from home if you can. And always bring bug spray and sunscreen.
What inspired you to work in the camping industry?
My grandpa had a seasonal site in Michigan—where I’m from—so I grew up with the seasonal experience of RV camping. I mostly stay on the marketing side of things, but my favorite part of my job is being able to impact the guest experience. Most people get just a few weeks of vacation, and if they choose to spend one of their weeks at Camp Fimfo, or one of our other resorts, that’s really cool. It’s a fun product to market—who doesn’t like the outdoors and vacations?