KOA Gives Lena, Ill., Park Its ‘Rising Star’ Award

November 19, 2009 by   - () Comments Off on KOA Gives Lena, Ill., Park Its ‘Rising Star’ Award


KOA Rising Star Award winners Joe and Diane Long from the Lena KOA are surrounded by KOA COO Pat Hittmeier, left; CEO and Chairman Jim Rogers, second from right; and Vice President of Franchise Operations Jef Sutherland, right.

KOA Rising Star Award winners Joe and Diane Long from the Lena KOA are surrounded by KOA COO Pat Hittmeier, left; CEO and Chairman Jim Rogers, second from right; and Jef Sutherland, vice president of franchise operations, right.

Joe and Diane Long, owners of the Lena, Ill., KOA campground, received the Kampgrounds of America Rising Star Award Wednesday (Nov. 18) during KOA’s International Convention in Houston, Texas.

“What the Longs have done in just three years is truly amazing,” said Jef Sutherland, vice president of franchise services. “They added 29 new sites, renovated the swimming pool and added a new community patio complete with a firepit.”

In addition, the Lena KOA now boasts a huge new jumping pillow, Wi-Fi throughout the campground and a newly remodeled campstore, according to a news release.

“It is this type of investment in camper fun and satisfaction,” Sutherland said, “combined with the Longs’ enthusiasm and customer service, that led to the Longs receiving KOA’s Rising Star Award this year.”

The Rising Star Award is given annually to one campground, and the criteria are strenuous ones. First, owners must love the camping lifestyle that is synonymous with KOA and must initiate exceptional business practices to ensure the growth of their campground. Second, they must be committed to developing services and facilities that will absolutely enhance campers’ experiences. And they must have owned their KOA campground for less than five years.

“Since Joe and Diane purchased the campground, they have been in the Top 10 KOA Kampgrounds based on Kamper Satisfaction Survey score,” Sutherland said. “They really go out of their way to make every guest’s visit an excellent one — and that’s why their campground has steadily grown. In fact, in 2009 they had the highest camper satisfaction score of any KOA in our system.”

Open April through October, the Lena KOA is just 35 miles from historic Galena, Ill. During the season, guests enjoy ice cream socials, group campfires and “hey” rides through the campground. It’s not usual to see Joe or daughters Alexandra and Kaley grab instruments and entertain campers, or for members of the Lena KOA team to grab a hula hoop and join guests in some fun and games. And Diane is well-known for handing out giant flavored marshmallows when it’s time for delicious s’mores.

Guests who visit the Lena KOA can choose from RV sites, tent sites, Kabins and Lodges, and the Longs have made sure that everyone can enjoy their campground by offering ADA-friendly accommodations. The campground is frequently home to family reunions and other group activities, and offers a beautiful outdoor camping kitchen complete with hot and cold water, multiple stove tops and grills and seating for 40.

In addition to the jumping pillow and pool, there are many fun activities on site as well. Basketball hoops, horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court and a large playground offer outdoor entertainment, and an air-conditioned and heated game room keep the party going even when it’s raining.

“The Lena KOA is an excellent example of how hard work, combined with enthusiasm and commitment, yields great rewards,” said Sutherland. “Certainly, we’re glad to have the Longs as part of the KOA family, and could not be happier to recognize them as Rising Stars.”


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