By Chris Epting
With autumn comes cool, crisp weather, brilliantly-colored foliage and, of course, college football. Now just where does KOA fit into fall after a long, hot summer of road trips and family vacations? Actually, it fits in as snug as a letterman’s jacket.
Think about it. College football represents one of the truly great American pastimes. Folks travel with their schools to take part in classic college rivalries that have endured for generations.
These mass gatherings can involve hotels, certainly. But today, more than ever, many fans have come to realize that when it comes to bonding before and after a game, there’s no better (or more affordable) place to gather than a nearby KOA.
Huddled over fires, reliving the memories of great games gone by, and counting down until kickoff, KOA may be the ultimate place for a pre- or post-game tailgate.
And of course, this is KOA, so each campground will go above and beyond to add their own special little touches.
Catherine Spinnenweber at the Tallahassee E/Monticello KOA in Florida (right near FSU’s Doak Stadium) told us, “As guests arrive, we offer afternoon treats, such as brownies, cake, cookies and pie. We regularly offer a continental breakfast, but on football weekends we try to offer an expanded breakfast and returning campers look forward to Catherine’s breakfast casserole.”
She added, “It is a perfect alternative to hotels/motels because our Cabins are grouped together and give the fans an opportunity to gather for pre-game activities, like nightly bonfires. It is a very friendly atmosphere.”
Patricia Schenk and Thomas Jetzer at the South Bend/Elkhart North KOA in Indiana know a lot about college football events. “We are conveniently located just 7 miles from the Notre Dame Stadium. Our campground offers it all. Tents, cabins, deluxe cabins, small rig, big rig sites. And we get fans of both schools at our KOA at the same time. They actually often camp next to each other. They’ll drink a beer later on and share all their tailgating stories with each other around the campfire, in the snow or rain.”
They also shared the value that a KOA offers versus other options. “We are cheaper, cleaner and safer than hotels and people know what they are sleeping in. They bring their own sleeping bags or linens. Also, they can bring their own RV — which they usually use during or at the tailgating parties at the stadium anyway.”
Dick Bogumil and Laurie Acevedo at Boise/Meridian KOA also go the extra yards to make fans feel welcome. “Having a top performing KOA resort helps provide the amenities needed for groups. Our staff contributes to the football experience. Whether home team or visitor, they encourage all and enjoy the experience along with the guests. We also provide a Door-To-Turf shuttle for game goers. This lets them avoid parking problems and feel the extra service is a real favor to them.”
Much more personal than what a hotel might provide, as they explained.
“We provide a very personal experience for our guests. They are made to feel at home and can then associate with other fans. They let their colors fly and that lets everyone know they’re here to cheer on their team. Hotels/motels tend to shut in the enthusiasm… we let it out! We are the tail gating capital…. or so we think. We provide pre-game activities, root beer floats, pizza and a chance for both teams’ fans to enjoy each other.”
Verona Rojas, General Manager at the Dallas/Arlington KOA, is also wise to the ways of college football — and what it means to a KOA.
“We’re located only 6 miles from the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Each year, we host football fans as they attend the big college games. In fact, September 1st of this year, the mega match between Alabama and Michigan has filled our books with reservations with requests for sites still coming in each day. Our guests have barbecues in their own groups -— which, by the way, typically expand from family and friends to new acquaintances.”
College football, basketball, parent’s weekends, graduations, orientation days, move-in move-out days — the college environment in general provides an amazing amount of opportunities to stay at a KOA at a time of year when it might just be off your radar.
Especially during football season!
Every KOA around North America provides something special, thanks to GMs that understand the importance of the little things that make a big difference. This fall, we invite you to plan a special trip in honor of a big game or some other school-related event.
So wear your colors proudly, and know that the yellow is always there for you.
Chris Epting is a long-time lover of the road and great outdoors. He’s also a true believer in KOA, a journalist and an author of 20 travel-related books. He’s traveling the country this summer, as usual, chronicling the wild and wonderful experiences he has while staying at KOA.