I was born into a family that was part of the fledgling travel trailer business. I grew up washing trailers, fixing trailers, ordering parts for trailers, managing different departments of my parents RV dealership and eventually, with my wife, owning an RV dealership of our own.
While many wouldn’t consider washing RVs year-round (rain and cold) a gift, I wouldn’t have appreciated moving up in the world if I hadn’t started at the bottom.
As I reflect on that gift I am reminded of many other things that I am thankful for, and as I ponder them I realize they are also gifts I did little to earn or deserve. Let’s take a look.
1. The gift of RVing with my parents and siblings as a child.
2. The gift of a wonderful woman, that would become my wife, that also camped as a child. In fact, our honeymoon was spent traveling in a 27-foot Airstream trailer!
3. The gift of camping with my children as they grew up.
4. The gift of becoming empty nesters, allowing my wife and I to leisurely RV the desert Southwest.
5. The gift of freedom that RVing provides—going wherever, whenever together.
6. The gift of gab, allowing me to speak at RV shows and rallies sharing this great lifestyle. I was very shy as a child!
7. The gift of introducing others to the joys of RVing.
8. The gift of living in a free country with hundreds of thousand acres of public land on which to recreate and camp.
10. The gift of my son-in-law being able to join the RV industry and continuing the family tradition.
11. The gift of witnessing my children continuing the family tradition by purchasing an RV and camping with my grandchildren.
To those of you that celebrate the gift that was given in the manger so many years ago, may your Christmas be merry and full of joy—and for those of you that observe another holiday may you enjoy a joyful time with family and friends.
What gifts are you thankful for this Christmas? Please share in the comment box below.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.