Residual Impacts from KOA/'Undercover Boss'
Like many high school and college students in the United States, Morgan Bradley, a junior at Tioga Central High School, is spending her summer break from school working at a camp. Unlike many of those student camp workers, Morgan's opportunity to work at the Watkins Glen, N.Y. KOA as a "Summershiner" came about in a unique way, the Daily Review, Towanda, Pa., reported.
The Summershine Resort Staffing Ministry, www.summershine.us, is an opportunity for young people to work at resort family campgrounds throughout the United States.
Based out of North Carolina, the Summershine program staffs and manages recreation programs and activities, and is at the Watkins Glen KOA this summer for a fourth straight season. Not only do Summershiners coordinate campground activities for guests, they also help with maintenance around the campground and assist in the front office.
Morgan's chance to work with the Summershine program initiated from a discussion with family friends Paul and Shawn Barrouk. The Barrouks, who work at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA in Watsonville, Calif., came back east several months ago to visit their children and grandchildren in Pennsylvania. While visiting the area, the Barrouks stayed with Morgan's family in Nichols. Feeling she possessed the qualities that would be a good match, Paul and Shawn encouraged Morgan to apply for the Summershine program.
The Barrouks knew of the program since their KOA in California uses its services, and they highly recommended it to Morgan. Morgan was ultimately accepted into the program, flew to North Carolina in April for training and subsequently started working at the Watkins Glen KOA on June 22.
The Barrouks both grew up in Owego and northeast Pennsylvania. After their children graduated from high school, and also following the loss of Paul's mother to cancer, the Barrouks were searching for a new kind of opportunity. Their journey led them to Watsonville, Calif. where they both began working for KOA.
'Undercover Boss' Connection
At the campground last year, they were asked to become involved in a special project for Kampground of America's corporate offices. What they didn't know was that they were really being filmed for the CBS television show, "Undercover Boss."
During a phone interview, Shawn commented that neither Paul nor she had any clue that they were being filmed for the television show and it was indeed a surprise when they found out. The KOA "Undercover Boss" episode aired Jan. 11, and recently aired again on June 21. It is available to view on-line at CBS.com.
In the "Undercover Boss" episode, Paul shared his story with Kampground of America CEO Jim Rogers. In appreciation of the Barrouks' consistent work ethic and giving KOA top priority every day, including their part in helping the Watsonville, Calif., KOA gain the "Founders Award" accreditation (which only 10% of campgrounds receive), Rogers gave Paul and Shawn three gifts. One gift was a $50,000 donation in Paul's mother's memory to the KOA Care Camps, a trust that helps children who have cancer enjoy fun and activities while they deal with their illness.
During the television episode, a guest gives Paul a tip for delivering ice. Paul thanked the guest and explained that all such tips go toward KOA Care Camps. A second gift from Rogers was money toward home improvement and the third gift was money to travel back to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends.
Had Paul not mentioned on the television show that he and Shawn desired to go back to Pennsylvania to visit their children and grandchildren, whom they had not seen in a long time, Morgan's summer would have turned out entirely different.
Actually, Morgan also had a television moment of her own. Camp counselors were recently treated to a New York City trip. The group decided to stop by NBC's "Today Show" plaza one morning, and while there, Al Roker recognized Morgan's group on live television, the Watkins Glen KOA Summershiners.
KOA, Kampgrounds of America is the largest chain in North America, with some 450 campgrounds and staffing more than 5,000 employees. The Watkins Glen KOA Camping Resort specializes in family vacations and reunions. Their website is www.watkinsglenkoa.com. The website for the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA, where the Barrouks work, is www.koa.com/campgrounds/santa-cruz.