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KOA Adds Ohio Campground, Ups Total to 477

August 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The newest campground to join Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA) North American system is the Salem/Lisbon KOA, located in the northeast corner of Ohio.

The Salem/Lisbon KOA Campground, formerly known as Stoneridge Terrace, is the seventh new location to join the 477-park KOA system in 2011, according to a news release.

Other additions in 2011 include the Murphy/Pease Valley, North Carolina KOA; Deerpark/New York City NW KOA; Chautauqua Lake, New York KOA; Meadville, Pennsylvania KOA; Montrose/Black Canyon National Park, Colorado KOA; and the Cross/Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina KOA.

“The Salem/Lisbon KOA is another great fit for the KOA system,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “We are very selective when it comes to fitting the needs and desires of our campers, and it’s always wonderful when we are able to welcome a campground like this, with owners like the Kuders, to the KOA family.”

The Salem/Lisbon KOA will be adding to its already substantial camping offerings, including more campsites and lodge accommodations.

Owner Barb Weikart-Kuder said KOA’s KampSight online campground operating system will make things easier for both staff and campers.

“We will be able to offer live and online reservations now,” she said. “Becoming a KOA gives us more exposure on a local, regional and national level.”

The campground has an Olympic-size, heated swimming pool, extensive clubhouse and 3.5-acre catch-and-release fishing pond.

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Report: People of Color Not Using State Parks

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Park system is often called “America’s Best Idea,” but according to a new report, it remains more like terra incognita for many people of color.

Released Wednesday (Aug. 3), “The National Park System Comprehensive Survey of the American Public,” conducted by the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming, is a follow-up to a much-cited report on race/ethnicity among park visitors conducted in 2000, msnbc.com reported.

Taken together, the two surveys show that while the American public has grown increasingly diverse in the last decade, black and Hispanic-Americans remain underrepresented in visits to the 394 National Park Service (NPS) properties.

“Despite efforts by the National Park Service and its partners to engage underserved populations,” wrote the researchers, “visitation differences by race/ethnic group seem not to have changed much over the past decade.”

Conducted by telephone in 2009, the survey queried 4,103 respondents across the U.S. The results showed that non-Hispanic whites comprised 78% of park visitors in 2008–2009. By comparison, Hispanics accounted for 9% of visitors, while African-Americans were 7% of visitors.

In contrast, the U.S. population in 2010 was 64% non-Hispanic white, 16% Hispanic, 13%African American and 5% Asian, with American Indians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders accounting for less than 1%each.

To read the entire story click here.

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Teardrop Revival Appealing to Avid Campers

August 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes when Joe and Leslie Kosareff pull into a campground, they encounter anything but peace and privacy. Fellow campers just can’t seem to resist their little tin can of a trailer. With its pudgy little teardrop-shaped body set low on two white sidewall tires, and measuring a diminutive 9 feet long by 4½ feet wide, it is the anti-RV.

As reported by the Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif., there is just enough space for two people to cuddle up inside at night and cook out during the day from a rear hatch.

But what the Kosareffs’ trailer lacks in amenities it makes up for in efficiency, ease and an indefinable cuteness that is fueling a mini-revival of “the teardrop trailer,” which was a familiar sight on America’s highways back in the ’30s and ’40s.

“It’s like the best of everything,” says Kosareff, a builder by trade who began making custom teardrops after arthritis made it difficult for him to continue with his fine carpentry. “You’re still camping but you have the convenience of a trailer. You just hook it up and go.”

Longtime campers, the 50-something couple found themselves tiring of schlepping gear and sleeping on the ground. So after seeing a piece on teardrop “gatherings” — camp-ins with fellow Teardrop aficionados — featured on the folksy PBS show “California’s Gold,” a few years back, Leslie turned to her husband and asked, “Could you build one of those?”

“We were at that age when it was just getting too hard to get up off the ground,” says Joe.

“And then we were having to deal with air mattresses with leaks in them.”

And yet the couple wasn’t ready to succumb to an RV when their goal was to get close to nature.

“We’re not trailer people,” he says. “We’re campers.”

The beauty of the teardrops is that they’re like a hard-sided tent on wheels. The sleeping compartment includes a full-sized bed and built-in storage and drawers for the accoutrements of outdoor living and simple travel.

The back, in typical teardrop fashion, opens up to reveal a galley kitchen with drawers for pots, pans, plates and flatware, counter space for a cook stove and a deep cabinet for either a refrigerator or big ice chest.

“It just so easy,” says Kosareff, who now custom-builds teardrop trailers in several sizes starting with a tiny 4- by 8-footer that weights only about 650 pounds. “It’s all set up. All you have to do is pack your clothes. If it’s midnight when you get to your campsite, you just crawl in.”

To read the view the entire article and photos click here.

 

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VIDEO #1: KOA ‘Toasted’ by President Obama

July 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s video comes courtesy of KOA, showing President Barack Obama holding a custom engraved marshmallow roaster and holding a tongue-in-cheek discussion on the proper way to prepare a s’more. The following is the accompanying press release from KOA.

What does the Leader of the Free World and Kampgrounds of America have in common? For a brief moment on July 6, the connection was a custom engraved KOA Rolla Roaster marshmallow roaster.

It was presented to President Obama on behalf of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) by Bruce Ward, founder of the “Choose Outdoors” organization and a special advisor to KOA, during a “Champions of Change” symposium July 6 at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Ward was recently named a “Champion of Change” by the Obama Administration for his work to encourage and support outdoor recreation opportunities in the U.S.

The KOA Rolla Roaster presented to Obama was custom engraved with the words “Let’s Move Outdoors S’more,” in reference to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” national campaign against childhood obesity.

Obama entertained those at the meeting with a story about the debate in the Obama household regarding the “perfect s’more.”

“We know that the President enjoys camping, so it was no surprise that he knew immediately the intended use of a Rolla Roaster,” said Kampgrounds of America CEO Jim Rogers.

“It’s always fun to see someone like the President holding what you consider to be one of the icons of your company and the outdoor recreation sector,” said Rogers. “Everyone involved in the Outdoors sector fully supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to combat childhood obesity, and getting kids outdoors, experiencing nature through activities such as camping, is a great way to achieve the goals of the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign.”

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ARVC Forges Fresh Inroads with State Parks

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), issued the following letter to members on Thursday concerning the possibility of state parks joining the organization.

As an unexpected, but welcomed outcome of ARVC’s non-member mail campaign launched in mid-June, we have received several inquiries from state public parks that see the value of ARVC membership.

As a result of these discussions, I am pleased to announce the board of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), which represents approximately 2,200 state parks and 7,800 recreation/natural areas in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, has voted to encourage each of its 51 state directors to join ARVC on a six-month trial basis. These state park directors will be making independent decisions to participate in the trial over the next few weeks, with the possibility of joining ARVC and the state associations at the trial’s end.

Per ARVC bylaws, public parks have been allowed to join ARVC for many years and we certainly welcome their participation. Please be advised all participating public parks will be admitted as non-voting status, again per our bylaws.

If certain states do not currently allow public parks as members of their association, we encourage them to consider doing so, as these public parks may also be desirous of joining not only ARVC, but their respective state association as well. This will be mutually beneficial to ARVC and the state associations for the following reasons:

Growth: There is strength in numbers, both financial and political. Already, states like California, Maine, and Colorado have recognized the wisdom of welcoming public parks to their associations, as does ARVC nationally.

Industry Unity: Working together as an industry for the good of all is not only outwardly beneficial in our dealings with the press, governmental officials, and consumers, it can also have far reaching benefits to you as a local private campground owner. The natural trails, rivers, lakes and woodlands available on these public park lands could become more accessible to private parks as a result of this relationship, expanding your own amenities, which in turn makes the camping experience more enjoyable for all. Alternatively, state parks generally do not have the pools, stores and infrastructure of our private parks, opening up the likelihood of referral business from them to you.

Government Advocacy: Together, as a more unified industry, we will have a stronger voice in Washington and at the State Capitol level on matters that affect our common industry interests. Clearly, the “unfair competition” issue between private and public parks that existed in years past has been rapidly changing as well. Due to state government cutbacks, these parks have had to survive more as business entrepreneurs these past few years, incorporating new access fees and increasing their site rental rates in the process. This trend will surely continue, eventually erasing most, if not all, price gaps that may exist today.

Times are changing and ARVC, along with its represented and non represented States, look forward to joining hands in welcoming the NASPD into our fold.

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RV Travel Grabs Headlines in July 4 Coverage

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

As a result of outreach by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and its agency Barton Gilanelli, RVs were a hot topic in local Fourth of July holiday coverage around the country. Media reported that five million RVers would be on the road during the July 4 weekend despite fuel prices.

RV-related stories were broadcasted more than 50 times in 39 media markets around the country. Reports reflected RVIA messaging that RVers planned to use their RVs more this summer because they save on hotel rooms, airfares and eating out.

“For a family of five it was still cheaper to travel by RV than it was to rent hotel rooms,” RVer Christine Torres told a Las Vegas TV news team. “By the time you add two hotel rooms, per night, and pay for three meals out, it gets really expensive.”

Stories appeared in major markets, including Sacramento; Pittsburgh; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas; Harrisburg, Pa.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cleveland; St. Louis; Indianapolis; Norfolk, Va.; Los Angeles; and Oklahoma City.

Capping off the holiday weekend, RVIA President Richard Coon appeared on the Fox Business cable network on July 5 to show off a luxury fifth-wheel toy hauler provided by Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., and discuss the industry’s recovery and enduring popularity.

“The RV industry is up 57% from 2009 and eight percent from last year,” Coon told Fox Business. “People love RVing for the convenience and the savings. A family of four can save two-thirds by not spending on hotels, eating out and airline tickets.”

The four-and-a-half minute live interview took place inside the Dutchmen trailer and effectively showcased the industry and one of its more popular product types before an affluent business audience.

RVers on the Go RVing Facebook page enjoyed the segment, posting overwhelmingly positive comments about their own RVing experiences, including:

• “I love our RV,” wrote Leslie Harris on Facebook. “I like to sleep in my own bed and not worry about bedbugs in hotels and motels. We relax and have all the wonderful things our home has. If we don’t like a particular place, we are up and driving down the road.”

• “We love our 27-foot travel trailer!” wrote Becky Brown Hecker. “Knowing your kids are sleeping and playing in clean beds. Having the ocean in your backyard, or beautiful views right outside your door. Having a yard for the kids to play in. When we are in our camper, we are as comfortable as being home — just having a lot more fun. We are able to go on more vacations, and can afford to do more when we are on vacation.”

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Woodall’s Rolls Out Campground Mobile App

July 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Woodall’s, a Camping World company and the leading brand in campground directories, today (July 5) announced the launch of RV & Camping Copilot, the most comprehensive campground mobile application available for iPhone and iPad.

The free app provides RVers and outdoor enthusiasts instant and convenient access to more than 12,000 private and public campgrounds and RV parks in the United States and Canada, plus Mexico. It can be downloaded for free at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/woodalls-rv-camping-copilot/id445868562?mt=8.

Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and provides complete campground information, including amenities, services, types of campsites, on-site recreation and identifies many camping discounts offered at parks. Private campgrounds also include Woodall’s 5W/5W Rating System, which is the most trusted consumer campground rating.

“Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot is a groundbreaking mobile application that provides RVers and family campers access to campground information from the comfort of home or their home on the road,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World. “This mobile app is the first of its kind, and we are pleased to lead the industry into the mobile space. But more importantly, we are thrilled to offer this app to camping enthusiasts for free.”

Woodall’s is also allowing RVers and campers the opportunity to enter to win $250 cash to support their summer camping plans. Consumers can simply download the app, try it, write a review on both iTunes and on the Woodall’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/Woodalls and they will be automatically entered to win.

The Woodall’s mobile application interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. It will offer the ability to search campgrounds by city, state/province, nearest location or by campground name in an easy one-click search format. Users will also have the ability to view photos, take virtual tours and indicate their favorite campgrounds as well as share them on Facebook, Twitter or email to a friend. More than 1,000 popular attractions, in addition to Camping World retail locations, are accessible on the application.

The Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot App supports the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad and requires the iOS 4.2 system or higher, and was developed in collaboration with Consent Media.

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Camping Pioneer Turns to Hot Tub Business

April 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

It was a year ago this week when Casey Loyd, president of spa-maker LMS Inc. in Pomona, Calif, sat down with executives from Coleman over coffee and made a proposal he was really sure would hold water, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

What if, he said, Coleman, which for more than 100 years has built up a camping-supply empire, would attach its names to spas that his 30-year-old company made?

Lo and behold, Coleman liked the idea.

On Tuesday (April 20), Loyd’s proposal started bearing fruit, as his Pomona-based, 1-million-square-foot manufacturing plant churned out Coleman hot tubs.

“This is truly a winning combination,” he told an audience of about 100 spa dealers from around the country and from Canada, who came to an open house at LMS’ Cal Spas plant in Pomona.

And consumers, even in a sluggish economy, are ready for it, he said, adding that there’s pent-up demand among people ready to invest in their homes’ backyards.

“We think the big investment that consumers are going to make — besides their home — is in their backyard,” he said.

Coleman agreed. And if consumers do, the licensing agreement with the camping-supply titan could mean the creation of 250 jobs over the next 12 to 18 months, Loyd said.

The spas, complete with features that include an iPod dock, speakers and energy efficient “smart” technology, will carry the Coleman brand name and will ultimately be distributed worldwide, Loyd said.

Dealers and LMS distributor Poolcorp representatives said Coleman’s entry into the spa marketplace will be a boon for the industry. The company has felt the hit from a recession that began in a housing market that was vital for the spa business.

Most people really don’t know what the brand of their spa is, many observers said. But with Coleman in the picture, that changes.

“It brings out that name recognition to the industry,” said Jim Dale, president of Pelican Pool Supply, based in Quakertown, Penn.

And frankly, he added, “(The industry) could use a little shove here and there.”

If that shove comes, Loyd said it will also be a boon for manufacturing in California – a sector he still has seemingly boundless faith in.

“You just have got to have the will … and if there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.

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Bristol Speedway Campground Occupancy Off

March 19, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Usually, the campgrounds surrounding the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., are wall-to-wall celebration in the days leading to the spring NASCAR race, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

Not this time.

By Thursday afternoon (March 18), most of the grassy lots that should by now be in the shadow of RVs and camping tents were just soaking in the sun.

“This is usually (filled on) both sides as far as the eye can see,” retired truck driver Gerald Wilder said as he waved both hands at the Twin-City Drive-In Theatre lot, on U.S. Highway 11E within sight of the speedway.

The theater’s billboard-sized screen towered above a dozen RVs, two tents and acres of empty space.

Wilder’s camper stood off to the side of the drive-in entrance, in the very spot he’d rented three weeks ago in anticipation of a packed lot. Why? Because it’s been that way with each spring trek from his home in the Northern Tennessee city of Speedwell.

“People are losing jobs,” he said of the sour economy. “This was their vacation.”

He’s betting more fans will arrive today. They’ve probably decided to trade an expensive, week-long camping trip for a cheaper weekend stay.

Drive-in owner Danny Warden hopes that is the case.

“Some of them will just drive in for the race and drive back out,” he said. Even if cars and trucks arrive without campers, he could still turn a profit by renting out parking space.

Track officials also have pointed to the poor national economy to explain why they can no longer sell out 160,000 seats weeks before the race. Tickets were still available Thursday. It’s also why much of the corporate sector has stopped buying seats in blocks.

Waving goodbye to the corporate sector might have a positive, yet still bitter, benefit, said Danny Gentry, owner of Gentry’s Camping and Parking.

“You’re back to the true race fans … like it was 15 years ago,” Gentry said while patiently awaiting more arrivals at the entrance of his near-empty 15-acre lot.

There could be trouble for BMS if only the diehard fans are left. Many fans grumbled after the 2007 resurfacing project that widened the track. Getting ahead on the previously slim BMS track meant drivers had to smash their way to the front. It’s what fans said they expected to see at Bristol.

Those spectacular pileups had fans returning for more every March and August.

Now, drivers have enough room to slip past slower cars without risking a spectacular finish on the day.

“It made a big difference” to fans, Gentry said.

Wilder, from the drive-in, hopes recent track upgrades will pump some adrenaline back into the show.

BMS officials have extended the crash barriers at the exits for two turns by more than 160 feet, thereby reducing the racing groove by nearly three feet.

“I think it’s going to be like it used to be,” Wilder said.

Still, some campers wondered if forces more powerful than economics and track width are to blame for the weak early turnout.

Canadians Isobel and Wilf Cobb looked down on the speedway from their lot atop a hill on Gentry’s campground. They arrived in Bristol on Saturday, after motoring hundreds of miles from their home in Ontario. It’s a trip they’ve made annually for 10 years.

Clouds have blanketed the sky for most of the week, parting for the first time Thursday, Isobel Cobb said.

At that, she motioned a hand to the heavens: “Maybe they’re waiting for the weather (to clear). You just don’t know.”

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California RV Park Occupancy Down 0.6% in ’09

March 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

CalARVC logoThe occupancy at private RV parks and campgrounds in California in 2009 was 57.8% or down 0.6% from 2008, according to a study by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

The 2009 occupancy rate was down 2.7% from 2007 and down 4.9% from 2006, making 2009 the lowest occupancy for the past 10 years, CalARVC noted in its current Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates e-newsletter.

Occupancy was highest in 2005 at 63.8%, followed by 2001 at 63.5%. Statewide occupancy at 57.8% is 0.6% less than the average for the past 20 years. This slip in occupancy is widely attributed to continued high fuel prices and a slumped economy that resulted in many job losses and home foreclosures.

Occupancy decreased in eight regions, with San Francisco showing a 15.4% decline. Monthly regional averages vary in accuracy depending upon which CalARVC members respond in any month resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus two to five percentage points. The error of margin for the statewide averages is one to two percentage points.

Average statewide occupancy increased over last year in six months, and decreased six months resulting in an overall decrease of approximately a half percentage point.

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