Pharr Winter Texan Activity Directors Keeping Guests Engaged
by Rocio Villalobos
Kathy and Lou Dewaele make a great team. The couple, from Montana, has served as Pharr’s Texas Trails RV Resort activity directors for three years, working a combined 70 hours a week during the Winter Texan season.
This season, the pair arrived at the end of September, quarantined for two weeks, then got right to work. While many of the activities couldn’t be offered this year, they have made the best of the situation.
“We had a whole list of ideas before we started this season,” Kathy said. “We got a big blow-up screen to do drive-in movies and accommodate people who have golf carts. We do drive-up bingo, and for people who don’t have golf carts, we set up tables and chairs for them and make sure they get sanitized after.”
Although there are fewer activities feasible, the workload has not changed, and Kathy has even taken on a new role in the kitchen. The park does not currently have a kitchen manager, leaving Kathy and a work camper to the task.
“Neither one of us has experience working with large crowds, but we’ve been doing it,” she said. “We work really good in the kitchen together.”
They provide a few weekly meals, with the largest-scale dinner so far being Thanksgiving.
“Her and I cooked a whole meal for 99 people, all made from scratch,” Kathy said. “They were all appreciative, and Lou helped with the delivery.”
For certain projects, they work together, but each has different strengths.
“She’s really strong on advertising sales and organizes our two craft shows, and the year before last, we started a health fair, and she runs that,” Lou said. “I deal more with entertainment, bringing in the shows and scheduling activities and locations around the resort.”
“He’s a lot more detail-oriented,” Kathy added.
Another big hit they started this year is an ice-cream cart. Since the hall is closed and ice cream socials are on pause, they got creative.
“We got ourselves a little John Deer trailer and sprayed it lime green and took a small freezer from the kitchen and sprayed it hot pink and put ice cream on top,” Kathy said. “We got the bells and music going, and people have been liking the idea of ice cream coming around just like the old days.”
Apart from the safe activities they have introduced, Kathy and Lou have more in store that they plan to reveal, little by little, to keep residents engaged. One way they brainstorm is by communicating with activity directors from sister parks to share ideas.
“It’s a challenge,” Lou said. “That’s the way I look at it. It’s a challenge, but people are accepting what we’re doing. When you get support from your guests, that makes it a lot easier.”