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Clarks Win RV In KOA, Keystone Contest

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 7.29.16 PMFor Lawrence Clark and his wife, Sondra, playing Kampgrounds of America Inc.'s (KOA’s) “Spin To Win” contest this summer was a pleasant part of their morning ritual.
The recently retired couple from Lumberton, Texas, stumbled upon the contest on KOAs Facebook page, according to a written announcement from KOA. Each morning since early spring, they’d grab their first cup of coffee, and then “compete” to see who could spin the wheel and win the higher number of extra contest entries.
Little did they know that their morning habit would pay off handsomely. The Clarks are the official winners of a new 2014 Keystone Passport 238ML towable recreation vehicle and a complete Weber Grill package. The Keystone Passport was the main prize in the first-half-of-summer contest drawing. Nearly 7 million entries were received for the first half of this summer’s “Spin To Win” contest.
The “Spin To Win” second-half drawing will be held after Sept. 14. The second-half drawing prize is a 2014 Keystone Hideout 210HS RV and another Weber Grill package.
“Partnering with KOA is a great way to introduce new people to the joys of camping,” said Keystone RV Company Communications Director Jim Mac. “Today, you can find a Keystone RV for virtually any tow vehicle and lifestyle. We are thrilled to welcome the Clarks into the Keystone family.”
Contestants can still enter the “Spin To Win” the contest by going to the KOA.com website, or the KOA Facebook page.
For the Clarks, winning the new RV spells a drastic change in their retirement lifestyle.
“We really have never tried camping much before,” said Lawrence, who retired seven months ago after a nearly 45-year career with a regional energy company. “We did go to a campground with friends near Gatlinburg, Tennessee last year and thought it was pretty neat. Now, with the RV, we can’t wait to get started.”
With two grown children and six grandchildren, the Passport will likely be visiting a lot of KOA campgrounds.
Kampgrounds of America is celebrating its 52nd Anniversary in 2014.
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KOA Adds 14 Locations In 2014 (So Far)

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.12.53 PMCamper Jay Conner of Billings, Mont., was road weary as he and his wife made their way across Northern California’s U.S. 395. They thought they had a ways to go to find their next campground. Then, they saw that familiar yellow Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) sign, the company said in a written announcement about this year's growth.

“It was a great delight to find this new KOA!” Conner wrote KOA in a letter after their stay at the new Coleville/Walker, Calif., KOA. “We didn’t see a listing in the KOA Directory for this park, so we turned around to look, expecting to just see an old, unused sign.”

What they found instead was one of KOA’s new additions behind a brand-new KOA yellow sign. The campground was formerly known as the Meadowcliff Campground. With 34 sites, it’s far from being the largest KOA, but it’s a beautiful jewel in California’s Eastern Sierras Mountains.

The campground is so new to the KOA system that it just missed publication in the 2014 KOA Directory. But it's listed on KOA.com or via the KOA app (available for download free at the Apple Store or Google Play).

“We were impressed with the overall cleanliness of the park, and the modern facilities,” Conner said in his letter. All sites include cable TV and free Wi-Fi, and there is an on-site restaurant. There are even private, family-style bathrooms and ATV trail access.

The Coleville/Walker KOA is just one of the 14 new locations KOA has added to its North American system so far in 2014.

And stay tuned, the company said: There are many more great new KOA locations to come.

Other new KOA Locations include:
• Pocatello, Idaho: This quiet campground is back in the KOA system under new management. It’s surrounded by the mountains, and just 30 minutes away from world-famous Lava Hot Springs. Pocatello is the home of Idaho State University, and there is a Museum of Natural History on campus. At the KOA, you’ll find extra-long pull through sites and super clean Cabins.

• Alamogordo/White Sands, N.M.: Just off US-54/70, you’ll find this respite in the desert, with open, shady sites. Just down the road is the New Mexico Museum of Space History, detailing the state’s role in the U.S. Space Program. If hiking is your thing, there are plenty of trails at the nearby White Sands National Monument, where the roads lead through the flour-white gypsum sands.

• Decatur/Wheeler Lake, Ala.: This campground sits on Wheeler Reservoir, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Water activities are the main thing at this KOA, with water skiing, canoeing, sailing, fishing and swimming at the top of the list that also includes photography, hiking, and birdwatching.

• Benbow, Calif.: Visitors to the lost coast of northern California will find this campground along the East Branch of the South Fork Eel River. There are new deluxe cabins where you can sit and admire the mountain views and majestic redwoods. The campground has a nine-hole golf course, putting green and driving cage. You can hike among the giant trees at the nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Rockefeller Forest and Founders Grove.

• Uniontown, Pa.: This KOA, formerly the River’s Edge Campground, is situated between the Youghiogheny River and the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, so every campsite comes with a view of the trail or the river. You can fish for trout or rent a canoe, or set off on a bike ride of any length along the 150-mile trail. This KOA has themed weekends each summer, with live bands, bonfires and dance parties around the new pool.

• Starkville, Miss.: This new KOA, right on the shores of Oktibbeha County Lake, is just minutes from Mississippi State University. You can swim at the beach, enjoy the waterslides, or cast a fishing line. And its just a few miles to the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge and the famed Natchez Trace Parkway.

• Nashville, Tenn., North: This KOA is handy to all Music City attractions, just 13 miles north of the downtown Nashville loop. There’s even a “Little Country Opry,” with music and dinner every Thursday night all summer long. There are 100 sites here, on 8 1/2 acres.

• Hancock/Stevens Point, Wis., South KOA Journey: The newly built KOA in central Wisconsin has a pond, along with a large heated swimming pool. It’s surrounded by vegetable and tree farms, and is near biking trails. It’s just off I-39 in a wooded setting.

• Naples, Maine: This western Maine KOA is a full-service campground in the heart of the Sebago Lakes Region. There’s a huge heated pool, and a kitchen open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rent a canoe for the lake, check out the game room and settle around the campfire at the end of a busy day.

• Sanger/Denton, Texas, North: This is the newest KOA in Texas, nestled just off I-35. It can accommodate any size RV, with 90-foot pull throughs and Wi-Fi. There’s a pavilion for outdoor cookouts, and an Austin stone fireplace to keep away the evening chill.

• Shreveport/Bossier City, La.: This award-winning campground is now back in the KOA system. You can sleep under the tall pines. Enjoy a variety of Louisiana foods at the many nearby restaurants, or try your luck at the casinos down the road. This KOA has two Kamp K9 dog parks, as well as new deluxe cabins.

• Fort McCoy/Lake Oklawaha, Fla.: This new Florida KOA is located on a bluff overlooking the 13,000-acre Lake Oklawaha Rodman Reservoir. It’s also surrounded by the 400,000-acre Ocala National Forest. It has 3,700 feet of privately owned lake frontage.

• Nashville East/Lebanon, Tenn.: This is the newest KOA added to the system. It’s in the countryside of middle Tennessee, only 20 minutes from Nashville. There are both open and shaded sites, a swimming pool, tent sites and a well-stocked camp store. It’s a base camp for the Grand Ole Opry, the Hermitage and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.

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KOA Offers Details On 2014 Con/Expo

KOA President Pat Hittmeier speaks at the 2012 KOA convention.

KOA President Pat Hittmeier speaks at the 2012 KOA convention.

"What's Behind Your Yellow Sign" is the focus of this year's Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) convention and exposition, a play on the KOA "What's Behind The Yellow Sign" marketing campaign.

The event moves to Charleston, S.C. for 2014 and will happen Nov. 12-15.

The theme, according to Jenny McCullough, director of training and events for KOA, is a focus on "really honing in on what makes each individual KOA unique to their campers." With nearly 500 sites across North America, there's a significant variety of KOA options out there.

Here's the schedule of events:
Wednesday, Nov. 12
                Registration desk open
                Kamp green event  at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA
                Welcome reception  at Boone Hall Plantation
Thursday, Nov. 13
                Welcome to KOA general session
                Educational workshops
                Owners association area meetings
Friday, Nov. 14
                President’s and Founder’s awards breakfast
                Keynote – Waldo Waldman
                Workshops
                Franchisee of the Year and Rising Star Luncheon
                Jim Rogers’ fireside chat
                KOA expo opening reception
Saturday, Nov. 15
                KOA expo
                Final night celebration & KOA Care Camps auction

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KOA CEO's "Undercover Boss" Airs Again

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.21.05 PMCBS TV announced that it will rebroadcast the popular episode of "Undercover Boss" featuring Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers, KOA said in a written announcement.
The KOA episode will air Friday (July 4) in the regular "Undercover Boss" prime time time slot of 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, and 7 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones.
The episode originally premiered in January 2013. It received some of the highest Friday Night ratings of the show's fourth season. The episode has since received high ratings in cable reruns, and recently was broadcast as far away as Australia.
The episode features Rogers going "undercover" at several KOA campgrounds as an out-of-work accountant interested in starting his own campground business.During the episode, Rogers interacts with several KOA staffers and owners as he experiences the daily duties involved in operating a KOA.

For more details on the show, click here.

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KOA Reports Father's Day Reservations Up

More camping fathers – and their children – will be enjoying Kampgrounds of America (KOA) locations in North America this Father’s Day Weekend, according the advanced reservations reported by KOA Inc. in a written announcement.

As of Monday, June 9, advanced reservations for the Father’s Day Weekend (June 13-15) were running 5.6% ahead of the same period in 2013. A total of 22,150 reservations had been made, representing a total of 56,100 camping nights.

“We continue to see strong growth in camping in 2014,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Our Big Weekend in May to benefit KOA Care Camps for children with cancer saw a 6.3% increase in camper nights, and the recent Memorial Day Weekend holiday saw an increase of 3.2% in reservations.”

During the Father’s Day Weekend, participating KOA campgrounds in North America will be offering free camping for children.

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KOA's First Franchise Celebrating 50 Years

The Cody/Yellowstone KOA sits near the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

The Cody/Yellowstone KOA sits near the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

The first campground to join the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) franchise system is celebrating 50 years.

The Cody/Yellowstone (Wyo.) KOA has a weekend of special activities planned June 13-15, according to a written announcement from the campground.

“Fifty years of camping memories have been made here at Cody KOA,” said Jean Mickelson, general manager of the campground located on the eastern edge of Cody. “We want to be able to celebrate this accomplishment and all of our wonderful campers who have stayed with us over those last 50 years.”

“Bringing families together is what camping is all about, and we are excited to celebrate both our anniversary and Father’s Day,” said Mickelson, who is in her 14th summer at the Cody KOA. She said in addition to special weekend activities at the campground, kids will stay free to mark the occasion.

KOA founder Dave Drum created his first campground on his property along the Yellowstone River south of Billings, Montana, in 1962 to meet needs of people traveling to the Seattle World’s Fair. On June 18, 1964, Cody landed the first franchise of the company, which now has more than 485 campgrounds across North America. Ernest Goppert and M.C. Calkins were partners in the Cody franchise, one of a handful of campgrounds that struck deals with KOA in 1964.

“We’re delighted to congratulate Cody KOA on its special anniversary,” said Jim Rogers, CEO of KOA since 2000. “It has long been one of our most popular campgrounds, one that provides our campers with a wonderful gateway to the Yellowstone region.”

The campground was awarded the 2014 KOA President’s Award for receiving top scores in customer service surveys and KOA’s Quality Review. It is one of 10 franchises owned by Recreational Adventures Co., a family-operated business headquartered in Hill City, S.D.

The birthday celebration starts early Friday, June 13, with a special pancake breakfast and winds down with a wine-tasting event featuring samples from Buffalo Jump Winery.

The festivities continue Saturday, June 14, with birthday pancakes served up by local Boy Scouts. Campers will be eligible for $50 giveaways and other prizes Saturday morning. A climbing wall will provide fun for kids, campers can sign up to tie dye special anniversary T-shirts and lessons in Dutch-oven cooking will be conducted, including in a special dessert. Birthday cake will be served at the evening ice cream social. Campers can also visit a photo booth that will provide fun pictures to memorialize their stay.

Sunday, June 15, is Father’s Day, and the Cody KOA will again serve up birthday pancakes.

The campground is one hour from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park and minutes away from the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Cody Nite Rodeo and Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center. Fly fishing and whitewater rafting draw many travelers to the area.

KOA Cody offers more than 200 campsites, 20 cabins and five deluxe cabins. There is a heated swimming pool, hot tub and a wading pool with spray fountain. Campers can enjoy Wi-Fi, bike rentals, a horseshoe pit and basketball court, a giant checkers and chess set, jumping pillow, game room and many other activities.

 

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KOA & Lazydays RV Plan First-Ever Joint Rally

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.09.02 AMOktoberfest at Okeechobee KOA is the first time Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is putting on an RV rally, and they're doing it at the Florida site with the help of Lazydays RV and Fantasy RV Tours.

The rally will happen Oct. 17-20, and the organizers are billing it as an "historic event," one that's "part expo, part carnival and all fun," according to a written announcement from KOA and information from Fantasy RV Tours.

"This will be a great chance for campers to enjoy a true rally atmosphere while staying at one of our best KOA campgrounds," said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. "KOA camping is all about relationships and the fun of interacting with other campers. Rallies like 'Oktoberfest at Okeechobee' can be a showcase for great KOA camping."

John Lebbad, chief marketing officer for Lazydays RV, said, "Lazydays is proud to be partnering with KOA to present this incredible rally to our loyal customers."

There will be 360 RV sites dedicated to the rally, which includes catered pool parties, an Oktoberfest "biergarten," a golf tournament, a Lazydays show, seminars, cooking, a tennis clinic, photography and crafts workshops, a pet parade and other events, plus prizes.

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KOA Reports 5% More Camper Nights So Far

More than 110,000 campers flocked to Kampgrounds of America (KOA) parks over the Memorial Day Weekend, according to a written announcement from the company, based in Billings, Mont.

The 486 KOA locations in North America saw 3% more camper check-ins this year, compared to results from the Memorial Day Weekend in 2013.

Thus far in the 2014 camping season, KOA has seen an increase in short-term camping nights of nearly 5% compared to the same period in 2013.

The 2014 KOA summer camping season is off to a fast start.

KOA campgrounds saw a more than 6% increase in camper nights during the recent KOA Care Camps Big Weekend May 9-10, and advance reservations for the rest of the summer season are also running ahead of 2013 results at this point in the season.

"Campers are obviously anxious to get back outdoors and camp after a long, hard winter," said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. "Our owners are making significant investments in improvements in their campgrounds, and we know campers are going to appreciate the enhanced camping experiences they are going to have on KOAs throughout North America."

While camper interest in KOA continues to grow, there are still plenty of good campsites and cabins available throughout the summer, KOA reported.

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KOA Expecting 100,000 Over Long Weekend

The 486 Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) locations in North America are expecting about 100,000 campers to arrive this Friday for the start of the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.

The company reported in a written announcement that advanced reservations for the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend holiday are equal to reservations for the holiday weekend in 2013, and are running about 3% ahead of advanced reservations received a week before the holiday weekend in 2012.

Early in the 2014 camping season, KOA’s overall total for short-term camping nights is about 5% higher than during the same period in 2013.

“Our numbers early in 2014 were very strong, and it looks like our early momentum will carry through into the summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Our campground owners have been working hard on new improvements and enhancements to their facilities that are sure to be noticed by campers.”

The Memorial Day Weekend numbers nearly mirror the results of the annual “KOA Care Camps Big Weekend” results on May 9-10, which finished with about 6.3% more camper nights than the same event weekend in 2013.

While camper interest in KOA continues to grow, there are still plenty of good campsites and cabins available for the Memorial Day Weekend and throughout the summer, the company noted.

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Woodbury: Elevators In A KOA Campground?

The following column is Chuck Woodbury's in his latest newsletter from RVTravel.com.

When is the last time you stayed in a campground with an elevator? Or one with "hotel-like suites?" My guess is never. Same here.

So I must say, I was intrigued recently by a headline in Woodall's Campground Management with the headline "KOA resort redefining camping," followed by news of Kampgrounds of America's (KOA) new and improved park in Cape Hatteras, N.C., that includes an elevator and "eight hotel-like suites."

“We are redefining it [camping]," said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. "Camping is not about the buildings or the pools, it's about people and the way we act. What we're doing is attracting a mix of people who have never been to a campground. We call it genuine engagement … it's providing something that's missing every day. We block ourselves up, we've hooked ourselves up to a phone or an iPad or whatever, we don't have that genuine engagement. Campgrounds do," Rogers said in the article.

So, let's see. A campground with hotel suites is helping us reengage in some way with the great outdoors? Did he really say that?

It sounds to me like KOA may be "redefining the RV park industry," but I hope the company does not believe that elevators and hotel suites are synonymous with a camping experience. Heaven knows, even camping in our RVs is not roughing it compared to the old days when many of us camped in tents. KOA's PR person Mike Gast told me that KOA has no plans for other campgrounds with elevators and hotel suites. But we'll see. Jim Rogers comes from the hotel industry and he's a smart businessman. If Cape Hatteras fills its hotel suites (which it likely will), my bet is other high end KOA "resorts" will follow (watch a video where Jim Rogers explains the new, three-tier KOA classification system).

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