Gone Outdoors

What Is a KOA Campground?

by Jill Stimson J.D.

KOA "kampgrounds" exist in almost every state within the U.S. KOA appeals to families with children who enjoy some of the luxuries of everyday life while also enjoying time together outdoors. KOA staff offer a variety of recreational youth activities. All KOA campgrounds offer a convenience store, laundry facilities and bathroom facilities.

History

KOA has been in business for over 40 years, operating over 450 franchised "kampgrounds." To become a KOA kampground owner, you must have at least $200,000 in available financing and attend mandatory franchisor-franchisee training seminars. Additionally, KOA recommends that all of its owners reside on their facilities, in order to provide 24-7 service to its guests. KOA guests may expect to pay between $15 and $50 per site, depending upon the particular KOA campground location, individual campsite location within the facility and whether guests are RV camping or tent camping. KOA guests may also rent KOA kabins or KOA recreational vehicles, depending upon availability.

Types

Within each KOA campground location, there are two main camping options. Tent sites may be equipped with electricity hook-ups and water, but there are also options for "primitive" campers who want to experience basic camping without these added amenities. Primitive sites are the least expensive camping option, since they offer fewer amenities. KOA "kabins" offer campers a convenient way to spend time camping without the hassles and responsibilities of pitching tents. Most cabins include air conditioning and heating and small kitchen facilities, but most do not contain private bathrooms. However, KOA provides centrally-located public facilities for its guests. KOA recreational sites offer RV owners with a choice of "pull-in" or "back-up" site. Some sites supply hook-ups. RV owners may reserve "full" hook-up sites, including water, electricity and sewer lines, or they may reserve sites with just water and electricity hook-ups. The most expensive recreational vehicle sites offer full hook-ups, and allow vehicle owners to pull into the site (pull-in site). All sites offer free cable hook-ups and free Wi-Fi Internet access. Most KOAs offer "dumping" stations with a central sewer line. KOAs also offer their guests with a central propane fuel tank, and guests may purchase propane gas by the gallon. Tent sites, kabin sites and RV sites usually offer a picnic table and fire ring.

Features

All KOA locations offer at least one full bathroom facility, which includes toilets, sinks and showers. Some even offer multiple facilities, both accessible indoors and outdoors. Most KOA locations have outdoor swimming pools, but they're usually not supervised by on-duty lifeguards. Larger KOA sites, however, such as sites near beaches, employ lifeguards during the summer months. Coin-operated laundromats are available on each KOA site catering to long-term vacationers or those with small children. Each KOA offers a convenience store where guests may purchase staple camping food items, such as eggs, milk and bread, and of course, marshmallows and chocolate to make s'mores. Many KOA locations offer planned activities for children, including movie showings, scavenger hunts and a wide variety of craft lessons. In the last few years, some KOA campgrounds have begun offering RV rentals in addition to cabin rentals.

Geography

Popular KOA campgrounds are located on the East Coast. Catering to "leaf-peepers," New England's KOA locations remain almost fully booked during the peak leaf month of October. Most New England KOA sites offer wagon hayrides for families and pumpkin carving contests for children. The Bar Harbor KOA is conveniently located on the Atlantic Coast and offers shoreline sites. Located only miles from the entrance to the Acadia National Park, it is one of the most popular summer KOA locations. Whale-watchers and lobster connoisseurs flock to Bar Harbor's KOA.

Expert Insight

KOA offers a "kamping rewards" membership card for a small fee (usually less than $25). This card is renewed annually, and entitles each member to accrue camping rewards that are redeemable for future campground savings. Members may receive a free KOA directory listing KOA campgrounds by state. Some KOA locations offer discounts for active and retired military families and discounts for long-term stays. Most KOA campgrounds allow pets, usually charging a small fee. Visitors may obtain a pass for entry by paying a small admission fee.

About the Author

Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Photo Credits

  • camping-car 34 image by Jacques Ribieff from Fotolia.com