Lance Thompson adores his wife and two daughters, but he also loves where he lives.
So much so, that he’s spent the past 25 years giving back to the community so it could remain strong and beautiful for his daughters’ futures. “My hope is that we continue to see improvements to the Grand Strand community each year and that the generations that follow us will have an even better place to live,” says Thompson.
Like many of us, Thompson initially began vacationing in Myrtle Beach from throughout North Carolina. But after graduating from University of North Carolina – Wilmington with a bachelor’s degree in recreation resource management, and Clemson University with a master’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management, followed by a short stint on the faculty at Clemson, Thompson landed a job in Myrtle Beach in 1985 and has called it home since.
That job is one he still proudly holds today, as vice president and general manager of Ocean Lakes Family Campground with The Jackson Companies. Thompson is also a certified park operator with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). The ARVC recognized Thompson as Park Operator of the Year in 1999. “I love the people we work with, from guests to leaseholders to campers and staff,” he says. “They’re the nicest people in the world. And that just helps reinforce my efforts to make this a better place to live, which has become more year-round instead of just a 100-day season like it used to be.”
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Thompson’s most recent community effort and involvement is as 2010-2011 campaign chairman for the United Way of Horry County. Thompson’s just rolling up his sleeves and anxious to fulfill his duties in raising money for the good cause. “I’m just getting started with this year’s campaign, but I’m mainly responsible for developing a team of campaign leaders in different professional segments of the community in order to elicit support for the United Way,” he explains. “The needs of the community today are much greater in these tough economic times.”
Hundreds of volunteers from various businesses will join together on the 11th annual United Way of Horry County’s Day of Caring Sept. 24. This year’s one-day project is building a new playground in Carolina Forest.
Thompson, along with his wife, Marjorie, is also active with Grand Strand Miracle League, an organization that provides a life-changing outlet for his 14-year-old daughter, Savannah, who has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder. Grand Strand Miracle League games are played throughout the year, including the eight-game fall season opener on Sept. 9. “Because of Savannah’s opportunity to play baseball, it has caused my wife to be on the board and me to volunteer,” says Thompson. “We get to see the kids’ sheer joy of playing and hearing their name announced. And it’s amazing how many clubs, church groups, cheerleaders and sports teams come out and support them; the staff is tremendous.”
Additional volunteer positions for Thompson include the Waccamaw Community Foundation Trust Advisory Committee and the board of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. He formerly served as chairman for Junior Achievement, American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Waccamaw Quality Council, Myrtle Beach Family Campground Association and Leadership Grand Strand (he’s a Leadership Grand Strand XVIII alumnus). Thompson was named Citizen of the Year by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and recognized with the Ann DeBock Leadership Award in 2002.Even time for himself doubles as community involvement. Thompson serves on the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings panel. “I’m a golfer that likes to have fun,” he says with a laugh, “Tennis is really my game.”
Thompson and his wife have also enjoyed seeing the country by motorcycle with the annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride. Every now and then since 1998, the couple ships their bike to California and then rides back home for various Kyle Petty-supported charities.