Camping business runs in family

Jean Bazzanella thought she would settle into being a full-time mother and housewife after working for a time for an attorney and at a bank. Then Lake Anna happened.

Her family owned a piece of land along a lake tributary, not far from where she grew up on Bibb Store Road. After they installed a boat ramp for personal use in the early 1970s, members of the public began asking if they could use it. 

“Then they wanted to camp here, and I said, ‘Why don’t we let them do it?’” she recalls. Thus Christopher Run Campground was born. It was the first camping business in Louisa County.

“We never thought it was going to grow the way it has,” she said. “It caught on quickly. It’s like a big family campground.”

Bazzanella operated the campground for many years with help from her daughters Kristy and Ginger. Along the way, she set aside time to travel the East Coast with her bluegrass band, Girls’ Night Out.

About 10 years ago, Bazzanella thought she might have to close the business to look after her mother. But grandson Sammy Kelly and his family agreed to take over managing the facility, which includes cabins; more than 200 campsites and RV hookups; and a recreation hall, among other amenities.

About 80 seasonal campers come on weekends during the summer and leave their campers during the week. One camper has been coming for 40 years.

“Every year, he says this might be his last, but he keeps coming back,” Bazzanella said. 

For anyone looking to start a business, she advises to “start small, but have some high expectations.

“My dreams were high but I didn’t progress too rapidly and didn’t borrow too much money. We already owned the land, which [she and husband Sam] had bought when we first married.”

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