KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity

More campers today rate access to free Wi-Fi a higher priority than traditional camping amenities, such as access to cabins or recreational activities, according to the 2015 North American Camping Report, an independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity
KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity

The must-have camping gear, according to the results of the survey of 2,104 US households, is the cell phone, as 83 percent of all campers bring their mobile phone to the great outdoors, according to a KOA news release.

What’s more, the heart wins out over the wallet, as more people today see camping as a way to escape the stress of everyday life than as an affordable vacation option.

Highlights from the 2015 North American Camping Report include the following:

Must-Have Camping Equipment: Wi-Fi and Mobile Phones

Today’s campers are more “plugged in” when preparing for camping trips and while at campsites. Of those surveyed, half of all campers (51 percent) claim that they go online at least once a day while camping, and four out of 10 (41 percent) say that having free Wi-Fi influences their decision to stay at a campground.

When selecting which campgrounds to visit and stay, free Wi-Fi ranks as the third most important amenity, behind only clean bathrooms and a kid-friendly environment, and outpaces access to recreational activities such as a campground store, cabins, and even safety lighting.

Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The youngest campers, younger than 25, are more likely to bring a mobile phone (86 percent), compared to campers age 65-plus (77 percent). Conversely, campers 25-plus are somewhat more likely to bring along a laptop or notebook (29 percent) compared to the youngest campers (21 percent). Younger campers even say having a smartphone (28 percent) is almost as important as toilet paper (34 percent).

Camping as a Healthy Escape and Relationship Builder

Though the notion of camping as an inexpensive vacation option remains, survey results suggest that while the cash-saving aspect is still important, people are camping to build the emotional connection and relationships with family and friends in nature.

Survey highlights include:

  • According to campers, reconnecting with nature (55 percent), reducing stress (54 percent), and spending more time with family and friends (49 percent) are the key reasons they camp. Economic and practical values were only identified as reasons for camping by less than 35 percent of those surveyed.
  • Campers are likely to say that camping improves family relationships—in fact, 41 percent “completely agree” with this.

Additionally, fully 4-in-10 campers (39 percent) suggest that camping has “a great deal of impact” on allowing them to spend more time with family. Another third of campers say that camping has a positive impact on their relationships with family and friends (35 percent) and their emotional well-being (36 percent).

Outdoor Melting Pot

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly one in four campers in 2014 identified themselves as either African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic, a significant increase compared to past industry research efforts. Other key survey highlights include:

  • Camping rates among nonwhites have doubled from as recently as 2012, jumping from 12 percent up to 23 percent.
  • Among multicultural groups, camping rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders have increased the most over the last two years, representing only 1 percent of the total camping population in 2012, compared to 6 percent in 2014.
  • Hispanics jumped from 2 percent of campers in 2012 to 6 percent in 2014.

2015 Season Outlook

Looking ahead to the 2015 camping season, a majority of campers (53%) plan to spend more nights camping, and almost half (48 percent) plan to take more trips. Other key findings related to campers’ plans for the 2015 season include:

  • When asked what has the most impact on their decision to camp more, survey respondents cited spending more time with family and friends (68 percent), exploring new areas (67 percent), and decreased gas prices (60 percent) as the most impactful factors.
  • Among campers who say that decreased gas prices are impacting their travel plans for the upcoming year, 88 percent plan to visit new areas, 88 percent say it will allow them to camp more often and 86 percent plan to visit new campgrounds.
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Life is short and the world is wide.
—Simon Raven

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The Airstream Renaissance

Ah, yes. As soon as you invoke the word Airstream, people get the attraction.

Santa Rosa model at Santa Barbara Auto Camp
Light reflects on the wall behind the Santa Rosa model at Santa Barbara Auto Camp. (Photo Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

It’s a part of American culture that transcends time. Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

It’s one thing to take a 40-foot-plus diesel pusher or 36-foot fifth wheel trailer on the road.

But being an Airstream aficionado can be quite another thing.

In 1936, Wally Byam stated that he is in business “to make people’s dreams come true.”

The enthusiasm for Airstreams that has always been with us has surged in recent years with everyone from stylish millionaires to young travelers wanting to own one of these design icons. This is a distinct subset of the RV crowd.

The only way you could experience the Airstream lifestyle on the open road was if you went all-out and bought the dream.

Enter Airstream campgrounds and motels as an alternative to owning the dream. Capitalizing on the retro-romantic image, Airstream parks or traditional RV parks with permanent Airstreams available for nightly rental have popped up with regularity across the American Southwest.

Airstream Bambi at the Metro Hotel in Petaluma
Airstream Bambi at the Metro Hotel in Petaluma (Photo Credit: Sam McManis/Sacramento Bee)

Previously featured in Vogel Talks RVing, the Santa Barbara’s Auto Camp offers five custom-designed Airstreams as part of a trailer park. The Auto Camp is so popular, its owners are planning to open similar sites soon in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Ventura.

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks on Utah Scenic Byway 12, the Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park is the marriage of two iconic symbols of freedom and adventure on American highways. It’s a one-of-a-kind resort that combines Airstream travel trailers and vintage convertible cars with a drive-in movie theater.

Kate Pierson, the retro, beehive-coiffed singer from the B-52s invites visitors to “rocket through the wilderness” in a collection of six vintage Airstreams, the interiors of which riff off the kitsch of the band’s best-known material. Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Park is near Joshua Tree.

Nine lovely, fully restored vintage Airstream travel trailers await you at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona.

The Airstreams at Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton feature a porch with a barbecue and couch and lounge chairs.
The Airstreams at Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton feature a porch with a barbecue and couch and lounge chairs. (Photo Credit: Sam McManis/Sacramento Bee)

Whether it’s the 33 foot Royal Mansion built in 1951 and restored with leopard carpet, martini glasses, diner-style breakfast booth, and phonograph with a collection of 78 rpm records, or the 1947 Tiki Bus Polynesian Palace, complete with hand-carved outrigger bar and your own Tiki God, the Shady Dell’s individual trailers will surely send you back to a time when freedom was just another word for jumping in your aluminum house on wheels.

Flying Flags RV Park and Campground, in Buellton, California, a sprawling, upscale trailer park, rents nine Airstreams.

The quirky, French-themed Metro Hotel in Petaluma’s wine country has a couple of 16-footers in its parking lot.

Or experience the nostalgia and romance of an Airstream trailer at a spattering of KOA Campgrounds—Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay (California), Stockton/Delta (California), Eureka Springs (Arkansas), Mystic (Connecticut), Sugarloaf Key (Florida), Boston/Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Bar Harbor (Maine), Cape Hatteras (North Carolina), and South Padre Island (Texas).

It would be too easy to dismiss this Airstream revival as a fad, a traveler’s version of the horned-rim glasses by trend-seeking hipsters.

After all, celebrities such as actors Johnny Depp and Matthew McConaughey and rockers such as Eddie Vedder and Sheryl Crow own tricked-out “silver bullets”. Country crooner Miranda Lambert, owner of a 1954 Flying Cloud Airstream trailer she named “Wanda the Wanderer,” even penned a song about her trailer: The Airstream Song.

Miranda Lambert's 1954 Flying Cloud Airstream trailer, affectionately named “Wanda the Wander"
Miranda Lamberts’s 1954 Flying Cloud Airstream trailer, affectionately named “Wanda the Wander” (Photo Credit: Miranda Lambert facebook)

But Airstreams endure. They are vintage and iconic, not merely a passing fancy on the roadways.

Its factory in Jackson Center, Ohio, produces 50 trailers a week and, according to Investor’s Business Daily, enjoyed a 59 percent increase in revenue in 2013 over the previous fiscal year.

Perhaps more impressive, the company boasts that 60 percent of all the trailers it has produced over the past 80 years are still in use today.

Worth Pondering…

Airstream Song

Sometimes I wish I lived in airstream homemade curtains
Lived just like a gypsy.
Break a heart, roll out of town
Cause gypsies never get tied down
—Lyrics by Miranda Lambert, Natalie Nicole Hemby, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert; sung by Miranda Lambert

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KOA Acquires Lazydays Tucson RV Park

Lazydays RV and Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) have reached agreement on the sale of the Lazydays RV Campground in Tucson, Arizona, to KOA.

KOA-logo-with-printing-300x113The RV park located at 5151 S. Country Club Road in Tucson, will now be known as the Tucson/Lazydays KOA Campground. It will join 486 other locations in the KOA system throughout North America.

Lazydays RV CEO Tim Sheehan said the agreement with KOA includes a marketing agreement that allows the two iconic outdoor industry brands to work together to promote both the campground and Lazydays RV which will continue to operate a Lazydays RV dealership and service center at the Tucson site, according to a news release.

“We are confident that Lazydays RV and KOA, working together, will provide an unparalleled RV ownership and camping experience for guests,” Sheehan said.

“KOA and Lazydays will also work together to increase awareness of our businesses among our respective customers.”

KOA-Lazy DaysKOA President Pat Hittmeier said Lazydays’ culture of “extraordinary customer care” fits well with KOA’s focus on guest service.

“I’m confident that the synergy created by combining our two respected brands will exceed our expectations at all levels, Hittmeier said.

“It was quite evident as this transaction developed that KOA and Lazydays have a healthy amount of respect and trust for each other, which allowed us to proceed to this point. We’re looking forward to a very bright future at the new Tucson/Lazydays KOA.”

The agreement on the Tucson property will be finalized in early November, after KOA completes the due diligence process at the campground.

Details

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA)

KOA is celebrating its 51st Anniversary in 2013.

KOA, the world’s largest network of family-friendly campgrounds with 485 locations in North America, was born on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana in 1962.

Address: PO Box 30558, Billings, MT 59114

Phone: (888) 562-0000

Website: koa.com

Lazydays Tucson RV

Lazydays Tucson RV
Lazydays Tucson RV

Lazydays, founded in 1976, is the largest destination RV site in North America.

Based on 126 acres outside Tampa, Florida, Lazydays features more than 400 service bays and more than 900 new and pre-owned RVs.

Lazydays has built its reputation on providing an outstanding customer experience with exceptional service and product expertise.

Lazydays also operates a major dealership in Tucson.

The Lazydays RV dealership in Tucson, Arizona, is comprised of 86 well-manicured acres of property that are filled with a wide variety of RVs, more than 75 service bays, and 25 expert technicians, most of whom have achieved prestigious RVIA/RVDA certification.

If you’re feeling hungry during your visit to Lazydays Tucson, you can enjoy the delicious food options at The Florizona Grille restaurant.

Address: 3200 East Irvington Road, Tucson, AZ 85714-1936

Phone: (800) 306-4002

Website: lazydays.com

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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Airstream Expands to China & Elsewhere

Several weeks ago in China, a country with almost no commercial campgrounds and limited cross-country highways, Shane Ott of Billings (Montana) opened a third Airstream RV dealership.

Airstream-logoThe Beijing dealer, Xing Liu, sold two RVs on opening weekend, reports mtstandard.com.

“I think, maybe in some cases, these ultra-wealthy people are parking the RV on their property just to make their equally wealthy neighbors jealous,” said Ott, who previously worked for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and now directs international business development for Airstream Inc.

In recent years, China has been on a tear to build modern infrastructure from subways to railroads to highways.

In an earlier article I reported that in 2001 just one single RV was sold in China, by 2010 900 units were sold with about 4500 units on the road since then.

Sales for 2012 were expected to be around 1500 units with total units expected to pass 6000.

“They may not have many miles of highways, but the ones they have are brand new,” Ott said.

In the first three months of this year, he has been racking up the frequent-flyer miles, trying to start RV dealerships mainly in China, Europe, and Australia.

Wally Byam designed the first Airstream trailer in the late 1920s
Wally Byam designed the first Airstream trailer in the late 1920s

During the past two years, Ott has flown to China seven times and logged an around-the-globe jaunt lasting 17 days. At the end of April, he jets off to Frankfurt, Germany; Naples, Italy; and Paris, France.

“They may not have many miles of highways, but the ones they have are brand new,” he said.

China is virtually commercial campground-free now, but that is changing, Ott said, and his company based in Jackson Center, Ohio, wants a cut of this future business.

China has roughly 100 camping places with more being added at a rapid place.

The mostly pull-behind trailers known for their shiny exteriors sell for an average retail price of $70,000.

Sales have risen 16 percent since August, the start of Airstream’s fiscal year, over the same period for its previous fiscal year.

Details

Airstream

Airstream 44813a1b04afd132Airstream, maker of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

Wally Byam designed the first Airstream trailer in the late 1920s, after his wife refused to go camping without a kitchen to cook in.

The design of the Airstream was based on an aeroplane fuselage with lightweight aluminum and the effect was stunning, sleek and silver. It caused a sensation.

Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements” Airstream has remained a timeless classic.

A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Address: 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629

Phone: (877) 596-6111

Website: airstream.com

Worth Pondering…

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

—Maya Angelou

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Victoria Coleto Creek KOA Opens in South Texas

Scooter and Gail Reaser knew a great opportunity when they saw it.

The newest KOA opens in South Texas mid-way between Victoria and Goliad.
The newest KOA opens in South Texas mid-way between Victoria and Goliad.

The Reasers, longtime recreational boating enthusiasts on Coleto Creek Lake in Texas, noticed that the very basic camping facilities offered at the Coleto Creek Reservoir just weren’t meeting the needs of campers.

So, they decided to convert the 60-acre pasture that they owned near the reservoir into a top-notch campground, according to a news release.

In the current economy, newly constructed campgrounds are a rarity. But trying something a bit different didn’t scare Scooter or Gail.

In October, they opened Phase 1 of the new Victoria Coleto Creek KOA Campground, which included 124 campsites, each with free cable television and Wi-Fi, a patio with barbecue, a 10,000-square-foot Kamp K-9 pet playground, and a nature trail that meanders through acres of undeveloped land.

Coming soon will be Phase 2 and Phase 3, which include a large pavilion and additional recreational activities including bicycle and watercraft rentals and an additional 200 campsites.

“Those plans will be far easier to complete, now that we have the infrastructure in place,” said Vernon (Scooter) Reaser.

“The initial challenges of getting the permits, the electricity and sewer, and engineering are now done. Basically, it’s been like building a small city—far from existing services—from the ground up.”

Entrance to new KOA near Victoria, Texas.
Entrance to new KOA near Victoria, Texas.

The Reasers are dedicated to making everything on their KOA top notch. Guests entering the campground will see a palm-tree-lined, double-lane boulevard with the U.S, Texas, and Kampgrounds of America flags flying high on a circular island.

“The state flag of each guest’s home state will be flown throughout their stay here,” said Gail. “You can drive up and see your own state flag and know that someone from your state is here, too. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody with their campfires and barbecues going, having fun, enjoying the park and the outdoors.”

While the campground has its own catfish pond, as well as hiking trails and swimming, the KOA entrance is just 100 yards from the Coleto Creek Lake Reservoir entrance, so boaters and watersports enthusiasts can stay as busy as they like.

One of the Reaser’s top priorities was keeping the natural landscape intact.

“We wanted to keep as many of the native trees as possible during the construction process,” said Gail.

“Each and every tree was individually identified with its own bar code, so we could work with the engineers to select the best ways to avoid them. People who visit sometimes say, ‘Oh my gosh, you wasted a lot of land,’ but it was intentional. We didn’t want to lose the big, bright wide-open spaces of Texas. We’ve always loved the outdoors, so we wanted to keep it intact for our guests.”

“We’re close to three major highways, halfway between Victoria and Goliad, so whether people are heading to the Rio Grande Valley, the Coast, or down to South Padre, we’re a great place to stop for a while,” said Scooter.

The Reasers hired a former KOA owner and manager, Greg Dunagan, to manage their new park. Dunagan and his wife owned a KOA campground in Kansas before Greg became general manager of three of KOA’s company-owned campgrounds in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Sugarloaf Key, Florida.

“The location of this campground is extraordinary and the park itself is something special,” Dunagan said.

“I can’t wait for people to come here and experience it, and tell their friends about the unique atmosphere here. You just don’t find this wide-open, natural ranch feeling with the native beauty intact at most campgrounds.”

Dunagan said the campground will be a natural stop for empty-nesters and full-time RVers in the winter and shoulder seasons, as well as families with kids in the summer.

Details

Victoria Coleto Creek KOA

A short drive to Coleto Creek Lake will bring you to a fishing pier, which affords anglers the opportunity to try their skill at catching some fresh-water fish.
A short drive to Coleto Creek Lake will bring you to a fishing pier, which affords anglers the opportunity to try their skill at catching some fresh-water fish.

Located within the Golden Crescent of Texas, Victoria Coleto Creek KOA offers premier RV accommodations in a beautiful natural country setting.

All campsites are full hook-up, with 20/30/50 electric service, free cable TV and WiFi.

Pull-through and back-in RV sites are available, many backing onto open space. Texas wildflowers, live oak trees, wildlife, birding, and a catfish pond are waiting for you.

Beautiful Coleto Creek Reservoir is only seconds away from the campground, and offers outstanding fresh-water fishing and water sports activities. The Central Gulf coast is a short drive, and offers amazing salt-water fishing and recreational opportunities as well.

Address: 500 Coleto Park Road, Victoria, TX 77905

Location: Midway between Victoria and Goliad off US-59; 13 miles west of Victoria; 14 miles east of Goliad

Phone: (361) 582-0222 or (800) 562-9394 (toll free)

Website: koa.com/victoria-coleto

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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43 Million Americans Camped in 2011

Almost 43 million Americans participated in camping last year, according to a new study released today by The Outdoor Foundation and sponsored by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and The Coleman Co. Inc.

According to a news release, that equates to 14.9 percent of Americans over age six. The findings are part of the 2012 American Camper Report, a leading report tracking participation in camping in the United States.

The Outdoor Foundation’s American Camper Report provides data and analysis on overall camping participation and explores preferences, buying behavior and the future of camping.

For the first time in the history of this report, people within the camping industry share trends that they are seeing in the field, and the report takes an in-depth look at Hispanic American campers to examine this growing minority’s unique motivations, preferences and barriers.

The findings are based on an online survey of more than 38,000 Americans ages six and older and a supplementary survey of camping participants 18 and older.

“The American Camper Report shows that camping gained popularity in 2011—adding nearly three million participants since 2010,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation.

“The information and analysis in this report will help the outdoor industry and all stakeholders engage even more Americans in camping and transform non-participants into active outdoor enthusiasts and committed environmental stewards.”

KOA’s CEO Jim Rogers stated, “2012 is KOA’s 50th anniversary and KOA hopes that its outdoor hospitality legacy will continue to expand along with the businesses of other outdoor enterprises as we learn more about the needs, trends, and outdoor behaviors of the American camper. The report’s special focus on Hispanic campers also aligns with KOA’s goals to find new ways to increase the engagement of ethnically diverse populations in camping and outdoor fun.”

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Throughout our 112-year history, Coleman has maintained a reputation for creating innovative, high-quality outdoor gear. Insights from studies like the American Camper Report are a foundational piece of Coleman’s ability to build and maintain that reputation,” said Robert Marcovitch, President and CEO of Coleman.

“Thanks to the knowledge we gain from the Camper Report, Coleman continues to develop exciting gear for both the new and experienced outdoor enthusiast alike.”

The insights detailed in the 2012 American Camper Report are critical to understanding both campers and non-campers and building participation in the activity.

Some additional findings include:

Overview of Camping Participation

Almost 43 million Americans went camping in 2011 for a total of 534.9 million days. Participation is up from 39.9 million campers and 514.8 million days in 2010.

Almost all age brackets added participants, except the adolescent group.

Camping gained a net of 2.6 million participants from 2010 to 2011, but it has a fairly high churn rate at 16 percent.

Reports from public and private campsites and the Outdoor Industry Association illustrate a general uptick in camping participation.

The Mountain Region has the highest camping participation rate.

Seventy-seven percent of all campers are married or living with a domestic partner.

Eighty-four percent of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities.

Profile of a Camping Trip

Sixty-seven percent of participants camped the most in public campgrounds.

The average camper went on 4.97 camping trips.

Participants traveled a mean of 190.6 miles away from home to camp.

Almost half of all American campers plan their trips at least one month in advance.

Seventy percent of all trips are taken with friends.

Hiking is the most popular activity to participate in while camping.

Buying Behavior

Camping at Hunting Island Island State Park, South Carolina. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at Hunting Island Island State Park, South Carolina. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than half of camping participants are employed, and 29 percent are students.

Battery lighting was the most popular purchase during the past year and was especially popular among older campers.

Most camping purchases are planned at home before taking a camping trip.

Hispanic Campers: A Focused Look

At 5.52 camping trips per year per participant, the average Hispanic participant goes camping more than the average Caucasian participant.

Hispanics bought more camping equipment in the last 12 months than non-Hispanics.

Twenty-three percent of Hispanic campers ages 18 and over tried camping for the first time in 2011.

Future of Camping

Campers are planning an average of 4.33 camping trips next year.

Fathers are the most likely person to take someone camping for the first time.

The most cited reason for reducing the number of camping trips is a lack of time due to work and family commitments.

Worth Pondering…

Millions of Americans each year use our national forests to go hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and canoeing.
—Ric Keller

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KOA Teams With Keystone & Coleman for Anniversary Giveaway

Billings, Montana-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the world’s leading provider of quality camping experiences for North American families, has teamed with Keystone RV and Coleman for KOA’s 50th Anniversary Giveaway.

Starting March 1, campers are able to register each week for a chance to win one of 50 weeks of free KOA camping anywhere in North America, according to a news release.

Once each month, one entrant will also be selected to receive a $500 shopping spree at Coleman.com.

During October, one extremely lucky camper will be selected to win a $40,000 Vantage recreational vehicle courtesy of Goshen, Indiana-based Keystone RV.

“We think this will be a very fun way to celebrate our 50th birthday,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers.

“We partnered with Keystone RV Co. last year to give away a great Keystone Springdale RV, and it proved to be wildly popular with campers. So, being able to offer a brand new Keystone Vantage—now in its very first year of production—is a real treat.”

“Our joint promotion with KOA in 2011 was widely successful,” said Matt Zimmerman, president of Keystone RV. “This 50th Anniversary KOA celebration is even bigger and better.”

Vantage travel trailer by Keystone RV

Vantage from Keystone combines timeless beauty with modern technology to create a new travel trailer unlike anything on the market today.

The Vantage trailer is built using curved, laminated fiberglass sidewalls and an arched roof, offering wide-body livability and comfort in a distinctive look. The Vantage interior features contemporary-glazed maple cabinets, two-tone fascia, and an open-air spaciousness.

Rogers said the Coleman Co.—another iconic name in camping industry—is yet another natural partner for KOA’s 50th Anniversary Giveaway.

“Everyone knows Coleman and the quality that name brings to mind,” he said. “Who hasn’t camped with a Coleman lantern or sleeping bag over the years?”

Details

Kampgrounds of America (KOA)

Kampgrounds of America, founded on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana, in 1962, is now the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds. KOA has 485 locations in the United States and Canada.

Address: PO Box 30558, Billings, MT 59114

Phone: (888) 562-0000

Website: koa.com

KOA 50th Anniversary Giveaway

Campers can enter their names once each week at koakompass.com. A complete list of contest rules is also available at this site.

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company is a producer of travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, with manufacturing facilities at its headquarters in Goshen, Indiana, and Pendleton, Oregon, Keystone RV brands include Montana, Cougar, Outback, Springdale, Raptor, Residence, Retreat, Passport, Hornet, Sprinter, Laredo, Mountaineer, Big Sky, High Country, Fuzion, X-lite, Bullet, Premier, Alpine, Avalanche, and Vantage.

Keystone is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles and a major builder of commercial buses.

Address: 2642 Hackberry Drive, PO Box 2000, Goshen, IN 46527-2000

Phone: (574) 535-2100

Website: keystonerv.com

Vantage

Vantage from Keystone combines timeless beauty with modern technology to create a new travel trailer unlike anything on the market today. By utilizing curved, laminated fiberglass sidewalls and an arched roof, Vantage delivers wide-body livability and comfort in a look that clearly stands apart. And the Vantage interior is also extraordinary–tastefully incorporating contemporary-glazed maple cabinets, two-tone fascia, and an open spaciousness that is uncommon and pleasing.

Website: vantage-rv.com

Worth Pondering…
The ultimate camping trip was the Lewis and Clark expedition.
—Dave Barry

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Vintage Travel Trailers Restored

Even on a cold, dank day, it gleams and shimmers, this 1957 Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer. But that’s nothing compared to the glint in Kevin O’Connell’s eye as he stands back and admires a classic example of Americana, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

Kevin O'Connell lives his dream restoring Airstreams and other vintage trailers at his Guerneville business, Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers. (Credit: Randy Pench/sacbee.com)

“Look at that,” he says, with a curt nod. “It’s got great sex appeal. You could line up 1,000 trailers on the street, and they’ll flock to this here Airstream.”

O’Connell stands in the expansive workshop of his second-career business and first-rank labor of love, Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers, just off the main drag of Guerneville, California.

Around him are examples of a bygone period, those carefree Eisenhower years when people hit the open road in souped-up trailers and campers that catered to their every need as they traveled from state park to KOA sites to see America with the family.

Some trailers, such as the Airstream and a 1955 Aljoa Sportsman, he has refurbished piece-by-piece, inside and out, more for his own pride of accomplishment than monetary rewards. Both are for sale, though, for $16,000 and $13,500, respectively.

Others he repairs and restores for people who share his nostalgic bent.

Those folks had better not be in a hurry, though: O’Connell, 65, cannot be rushed.

This one of kind '55 Aljoa Sportsman trailer was created by Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers. (Credit: rrvintagetrailers.com)

“I can be a detail freak,” he says. “I’m very peculiar—no, that’s not the right word—particular about the history of these units. I’d like to get these from the original owner. And I need to have all the original parts.”

O’Connell opens the showroom and workshop to the public on most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Sometimes, during the height of tourist season in summer, he draws 200 visitors, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“It’s not really a museum or anything,” he says. “I’m actually working on restoring (the trailers). I’ve got clients as far away as New Zealand.”

But so enamored of trailers is O’Connell that he’ll take time to show visitors the inner workings and details. In the sexy Airstream, he points with pride to the toilet—“original porcelain,” he says—and the white-oak cabinetry polished to a luster. Then he steps out and runs his hand along the Airstream’s body, pausing at the curves and purrs, “That’s pure aircraft aluminum.”

Business is not exactly booming because of the economy, O’Connell says. But he does detect a rise in interest among collectors.

“It’s a whole subculture,” he says. “It’s catching up with the vintage car folks. People appreciate the craftsmanship. These trailers here, restored right down to the frame? They’re better than when they left the factory 60 years ago. People appreciate that.”

Related

Details

Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers

This '60 Airstream Traveler has been completely restored and is available for sale for $16,000. (Credit: rrvintagetrailers.com)

The Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers 12,000 square foot restoration shop and showroom is located on the corner of 3rd Street and Armstrong Woods Road in Guerneville, California, 65 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Visitors are welcome to view the vintage trailers under restoration as well as admire finished trailers available for sale to the public.

Phone: (707) 865-2077 or (707) 953-5649

Website: rrvintagetrailers.com

Worth Pondering…

As you go through life, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

—Yogi Berra

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KOA Free Camping: Come Camp & Care With Us Weekend 2012

You’re invited! Kampgrounds of America (KOA) wants you, your family, and friends to Come Camp & Care With Us during the May 11-12 weekend.

Campers who stay at participating KOA Kampgrounds as paying guests on Friday, May 11 are eligible to receive a free night of camping at that campground on Saturday, May 12.

The event attracted more than 25,000 camping families in 2011.

Now in its ninth year, KOA’s Come Camp & Care With Us Weekend has become a favorite way for many families to kick off their summer camping season, according to a company news release.

Best of all, you’ll help us raise funds for KOA Care Camps, a special network of 44 summer campgrounds throughout North America that provide a safe summer camping experience for children undergoing or recovering treatment for cancer.

Be a part of this very special effort for kids with cancer, and stay FREE at your favorite KOA.

During Come Camp & Care With Us Weekend May 11-12, participating KOAs will offer campers the ability to donate to KOA Care Camps through several special, fun events, and activities—or feel free to drop your donation directly into one of the handy collection stations you’ll see in the KOA Camp Stores.

“KOA Care Camps is a network of 44 specialized summer campers throughout North America “Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend has become a mainstay in our efforts to support this very worthy charity,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “It is so great that we have found a wonderful way to invite out campers to begin enjoying their summer camping season and also allow them to help us support camps for children with cancer.”

Last year, more than $500,000 was raised through camper donations by the KOA Care Camps Trust and distributed to the various KOA Care Camps. The funds are used to provide the summer camps to children with cancer at absolutely no charge to their families.

Participating KOAs are already planning fun events to make the weekend of May 11-12 special.

“We are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Kampgrounds of America in 2012, and we want to invite everyone to not only enjoy a free night on us May 12, but also bring their friends and family,” Rogers said. “Camping is a great way to bond with your family, and we don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun!”

Details

Kampgrounds of America (KOA)

Kampgrounds of America, founded on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana, in 1962, is now the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds. KOA has 485 locations in the United States and Canada.

Address: PO Box 30558, Billings, MT 59114

Phone: (888) 562-0000

Website: koa.com

KOA Care Camps

Address: 3416 Primm Lane, Birmingham, AL  35216

Phone: (800) 678-9976 (Canada 1-888-461-2062)

Website: koacarecamps.org

Come Camp & Care With Us Weekend

On Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12, KOA invites all campers to stay at a participating KOA campground and receive a FREE NIGHT of camping.

A complete list of participating KOA campgrounds can be found on the following website.

Website: koa.com/come-camp-with-us

Worth Pondering…
The ultimate camping trip was the Lewis and Clark expedition.
—Dave Barry

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Speed Bumps Delay Arizona KOA

About six months ago (June 26) I reported that the voters of Chino Valley, Arizona, overwhelmingly supported Proposition 401. In so doing voters uphold a decision of the Town Council from July 2010 to rezone 17 acres at Road 3 ½ N and Highway 89 to accommodate a KOA campground.

The unofficial tally was 1,814 “yes” votes and 802 “no” votes. At that time Charlie Arnold of Southwest Development Consultants, advisor on the project for developer Jack Tuls Jr., indicated they plan to begin construction in September and open the KOA in March 2012.

During the interim, plans for the proposed KOA campground project in Chino Valley have hit some speed bumps, but according to Arnold they hope to begin construction this summer, the Chino Valley Review reports.

Arnold cited Prop 401 as the major setback of the project.

“The referendum basically put a hold on 80 percent of what we were doing,” said Arnold. “The lenders that we had been working with, that we had commitments from, said that until the referendum situation is addressed we aren’t going to go any further.”

Arnold added that during the waiting period he remained in contact with the potential lenders on behalf of the developer.

“During the referendum, we continued on a weekly basis to keep them apprised of the situation. But as time progressed, there was a lot of turnover in the banking industry,” said Arnold. “All but one of the people we had been dealing with at our primary lenders were either no longer in that division, no longer with the company, or no longer involved in our project. It was a disaster. We had people who had been involved with the project since 2010 on the lending side. They were big cheerleaders, big supporters of this project and they no longer existed in their capacity within the bank we were dealing with.”

Signs show where the 17-acre Kampgrounds of America RV park campround will go on the east side of Highway 89, north of Road 3 North in Chino Valley. (Credit: Salina Sialega/Special to the Courier)

When the dust finally settled after the May 2011 election, approval for the project was given, but according to Arnold the damage was done, reports Chino Valley Review.

“Brutinel said we had to let the voters decide,” recalled Arnold. “And almost a year later the voters in Chino Valley overwhelmingly gave us the thumbs up to move forward on the project. But by then, our financial cheerleaders were gone.”

“We went back to the town, got the water and sewer agreement approved, the site plan approved, all of that stuff. We also started the bid process with many of the contractors,” said Arnold. He cites two major factors that have held up construction. “One, this is a seasonal project. The time period we needed to be under construction was at the very latest mid to late October so we can be open for the summer season. And two, losing our cheerleaders in the banking industry. That just killed us.”

Overall, Arnold says his dealings with the Chino Valley council have not caused a hold on the project. “Our dealings with the town council moved at a pace that is normal with a project this size,” he says. “I will tell you that the council has really pushed to re-work how projects move through the process, to make it more transparent, not just for the public but also for the lenders. The biggest hurdle that developers face are last minute additional requirements, something that pops up at the last minute. The town council and staff have worked with us to really streamline the process.”

Arnold adds that his group has had to make some adjustments in an effort to succeed with their plans. “We have been working from a completely different perspective now, we’ve had to restructure how we’re going to finance this project,” said Arnold. “We have to plan so that we begin construction and then open at a time the right time of year. There is a proven track record and studies that show when we need to open anything in the hospitality industry. If we are not in construction by August or September then we won’t be done in time to open for the season. If finances get in line then we will be ok.”

The Granite Dells, massive boulders of ancient rock that have weathered into delicately balanced forms and fanciful shapes, are located 10 miles sorth of Chino Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arnold said he will contact town officials in the coming weeks to request an extension of the site plans, originally approved for one year according to Arnold.

“At this stage of the game, there won’t be any real changes or modifications. It has already been approved by this council so I’m confident that we can get the extension we need,” he stated.

Arnold stated that he is confident the plans will move ahead and campers will be visiting the site by next spring.

“I will tell you candidly that the lending market is still horrific, but I’m optimistic that we have about a 70 percent chance to get it done this year,” predicts Arnold. “When we get the approval from the lender, I want to be able to stick a shovel in the ground within 30 days.”

Related

Worth Pondering…
Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever.

Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area.

Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”.

There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.

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