Myrtle Beach area campground wins national award

A campground that opened earlier this year along the Intracoastal Waterway in Socastee has won an award for its environmental practices from the national campground association.

Cypress Camping Resort was one of two campgrounds in the small-medium category that took home the Plan-It-Green award from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. The award, which recognizes properties that meet certain eco-friendly standards, was handed out last week at the group’s annual convention in Las Vegas. Cypress, which already has the plaque hanging in its lobby, shares the award with River’s End Campground and RV Park in Tybee Island, Ga.

Cypress decided before construction started that it wanted to take steps to make the operation environmentally friendly, including using recycled asphalt, setting lights on timers with solar backups and encouraging guests to recycle by using recycle bins around the property and separating recyclables from their trash, said Heather Hucks Johnson, the family-owned campground’s operations director.

“We take so much from the environment we want to make sure we contribute the most back,” she said, adding that the family wanted to have strict environmental standards so “generations to come have the same amenities.”

The award stems from the national association’s Plan-It-Green program, which has 62 parks participating, including Cypress and Ocean Lakes Family Campground along the Grand Strand, according to Jennifer Schwartz, the association’s senior director of marketing communications and partnerships.

The parks must meet at least half of the 18 eco-friendly practices outlined by the association, including converting to tankless water heaters, using energy-efficient light bulbs, providing recycling bins and using water-saving shower heads, according to the association.

Cypress met 16 of the 18 criteria and was selected as the award winner after the association evaluated an entry and supporting documents that Cypress submitted, Schwartz said.

The award comes during Cypress’ first year of operation. The 34-acre campground off S.C. 707 near Socastee High School, in the works since 2009, opened in the spring, a year later than expected in part because of a tighter financing environment after the economic meltdown.

The summer wasn’t quite as strong as officials had planned because it opened so close to the start of the season, but fall business has been brisk as travelers learn that the campground has opened, Johnson said, adding that the campground was 93 percent full during Thanksgiving. Cypress stays open year-round.

“Word of mouth has been our best advertising,” she said.