Park's Winning Combination Draws Campers

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March 12, 2014 by   - () Leave a Comment

The Shelby/Mansfield KOA recently added another trophy to its shelf in Shelby, Ohio. Garry and Vicki Cole have owned it since 1991 and joined Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in 2002. On top of a dozen-plus awards from the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC), KOA, the KOA Owners Association and the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, the campground was recently named ARVC’s Medium Park of the Year – for the fourth time.

One thing visitors to the Shelby/Mansfield KOA will notice that’s different from other campgrounds is the youth of its workers. This is, in fact, the very first thing the Coles point out.

When the Coles bought the campground from Garry Cole's parents, Vicki was a teacher so she knew plenty of students looking for summer work. But these young people also possessed a key quality the Coles absolutely required: A good attitude.

“Our staff is excellent because of their attitude,” Vicki Cole said.

The Coles’ student workers tend to be involved in activities such as marching band, 4-H and sports. “They bring to the table a lot of different abilities,” Garry Cole said.

“Lots of campgrounds are comfortable with Workampers and other adults, but we’ve been very well blessed with these kids and it’s something that works for us. And again, that attitude they come with is really important, because if they have the right attitude, you can teach them most anything,” Garry Cole explained. “We can provide all the physical facilities necessary to try to support the campground from that point, whether it be laser tag or a gem mine or a zipline, but all those things are for naught if you don’t have the staff to really make it go.”

The Shelby/Mansfield KOA does indeed have all those physical facilities (and many more), plus weekend themes catering to a rainbow of interests from Sesame Street to camouflage weekend (with marksmanship competitions using home-made marshmallow shooters) to comic superheroes to tailgating during the Ohio State vs. Kent State, game in the fall. Each weekend is packed with activities for both children and adults from morning to well after sundown – a schedule crafted to ensure visitors never run out of things to do.

“We’re in the middle of corn and wheat and beans. We have to give people a reason to come here,” Garry Cole said, noting they have to market their activities “quite hard” to create sufficient draw, and they had to diversify those activities for all ages, interests and speeds, because some campers want to relax and be pampered while some want to play hard.

For the full story, pick up March's edition of Woodall's Campground Management.

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