Kibby Creek Campground: Three generations of family memories

August 25, 2023

The Barn and the new pool.

Kibby Creek Campground: Three generations of family memories

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — How do you build a legacy? Build a venue that creates family memories that last for generations. This is the formula followed by the Anderson family, owners of Kibby Creek Campground. 

The Anderson family. Submitted photo.

Since 1990, the Roger and Kelly Anderson family has owned the campground located on Deren Road west of Pere Marquette Highway. As the family has grown, so has the campground. Today, three generations of the family live and work at the campground. Additionally, at least three generations of campers call Kibby Creek their family vacation spot. 

Earlier this year, the park completed its third major expansion, adding 130 camping sites, a third swimming pool, an additional bathroom facility, a community room, and The Barn, which serves as the camp store — and campground centerpiece — offering a variety of food, treats and beverages, and lounging areas. 

The expansion is a reflection of the the campground’s popularity and also the expansion of the Anderson family. 

“We often use the farm analogy when talking about why we have expanded,” David Lundin said. David serves as business manager and is married to Megan Anderson, daughter of Roger and Kelly. “When more members of a family join the farm, it needs to expand in order to remain profitable. We have done the same thing.” 

The campground is owned and operated by Roger and Kelly Anderson and their adult children, David and Megan (and their children, Elsa, 9, Joel, 6, Lily, 4, and Axel, 2); Jimmy and Caitlyn (and their children, Ray, 4, Tommy, 3, and Andy, 2), and Joey. Each plays a role in the operations. 

“Continuing the farm analogy, we do actually all eat together and even vacation together,” David said. “Each of us brings different skills to the operation and we all get along.” 

At Kibby Creek, though, the Andersons are just a small part of the actual term “family.” 

The campers themselves are also family. 

“We have campers here whose grandparents camped here,” Roger Anderson said. “We have at least two married couples who each met here while camping. Generations of families have called this their home campground.” 

Just as important as the campers are the employees.

“My biggest passion is our staff,” Joey Anderson said. “I love working with our employees. They are so much a part of who we are and what makes our campers’ experience great. We have employees who have worked here for years — since I was a kid — and we have employees who are kids themselves. Almost all of them are seasonal and a good majority of them are only here for a few years. But, that’s OK, because we know their experiences here will last a lifetime in the careers they pursue.” 

The Barn offers a camp store and dining facility.

Roger said good employees are vital to the success of the business. 

“Family vacation is important. People save up to have this summer experience with their families,” Roger said. “Those families trust us with their vacation time. We want them to come here and be happy. We will do everything we can to make them happy. It’s important to us to take care of our campers.” 

The Andersons are not just campground owners. They are also campers. Each fall, after the campground closes in late October, the entire family leaves for a camping vacation. Those vacations often inspire new ideas for the campground. 

Kibby Creek Travel Park opened in 1972. It was built by the Bradshaw brothers on an old orchard that was homesteaded by the Stephen Kibbey family in the 1800s. It’s named after Kibby Creek, which runs through the north end of the property, filling up a fishing pond. The creek eventually makes its way to Bass Lake. Just to the east, on the other side of Pere Marquette Highway is Summit Township’s Kibby Park, a roadside park that originally served as a rest area along the old US 31. That park is locally famous for its artesian well. 

The campground was purchased by Don and Dorothy Carr in 1981 when they came up from Indiana to go camping. 

The artisan brick oven can bake pizzas and a variety of other food.

“Don learned that the campground was for sale, so he decided to buy it,” Roger said. The next spring, in 1982, Roger started working at the campground as a second job to his duties at Bonser’s Eastgate grocery store. 

In 1986, Roger and Kelly got married, which meant Roger needed a steady job. He chose to work full time at the grocery store, but Kibby Creek stayed in his heart. In 1990, Roger and Kelly purchased the park. Don and Dorothy remained close and guided them. 

In 2002, the first park expansion took place. 

“It was always Don’s dream to expand the park,” Roger said. “The expansion was completed just before Don passed way and he got to see his dream happen.” 

The original park had 113 to 143 sites. The expansion included 107 additional sites and new bathroom facilities. 

The most recent expansion, taking place on 22 acres on the west side of the campground, brings the campground up to 380 sites on 75 acres. While the new expansion is described as a “premium” area, Kibby Creek remains a tribute to its origins by still offering a variety of lots from grass to concrete that can accommodate everything from tents to the largest fifth wheel RVs. The campground also offers cabin and camper rentals.

“This latest expansion represents a change in our business,” Joey said. “We are seeing our customers coming to Kibby Creek as their destination. We now offer many things for people to do where they can stay here for their entire vacation.”

The Barn

The Barn, designed by Caitlyn Anderson, offers ice cream, milk shakes, pizza — baked in an artisan brick oven — and other hot foods, a variety of drinks (including coffee!), lots of souvenirs and camping supplies, rocking chairs and other sitting areas. Just outside The Barn is a new swimming pool which also includes a splash pad. 

Kibby Creek also offers fishing ponds, walking trails, mini golf, a dog park, basketball courts, and the Kibby Express kids’ train.

The Andersons, though, also promote other activities for families to take advantage of in the area. 

“We are perfectly located halfway between Ludington and Pentwater,” Joey said. “Naturally, our guests enjoy the many activities our area has to offer and we encourage them to do so. But, we are also proud to offer a great variety of things for them to do right here.” 

Kibby Creek is not only a destination for visitors to the area, it is also a destination to local residents. 

“We have a lot of locals who camp here,” Roger said. “Even our neighbor, who lives next to the campground, has a seasonal here. We really appreciate that people who live here in our own community create their family memories with our family.” 

Camping sites fill up through most of the season. For more information about Kibby Creek, visit www.kibbycreekcampground.com. 

The latest expansion

The 2002 expansion

 

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