Owning and operating a campground sounds like a dream job for some of us. Full-time campground living can mean ditching the city for gorgeous scenery, socializing with happy campers, gathering around crackling fires and finally perfecting that perfect s’more.
With more than 500 locations across the US and Canada, KOA owners and managers live the campground lifestyle daily. And while there’s lots of fun to be had living and working on a campground, there’s a fair share of hard work, too. So what’s the day-to-day life of a campground owner really like?
The best way to answer that burning question is to ask the experts – KOA owners. Here’s what they had to say.
So we’re curious, what sparked your interest in owning a KOA?
“We began our journey to own a campground because we wanted to be in business for ourselves and thought people coming to us for vacation would be a great way to be around happy people while making money at the same time.” aNita & Bill, Chautauqua Lake KOA Holiday
“After our daughter went to college we sold the house, bought a fifth wheel and went on the road after learning about the Work at KOA Program. We thought we’d work and live on a campground for years, but the universe had other plans. We loved campground life and started looking for a KOA to buy never dreaming we would find the perfect place so quickly. We visited, fell in love and the rest is history.”
As a campground owner, how would you describe your typical day?
“If a day is ever ‘typical,’ that’s not typical! I try to have a list of things that need to be done every day, however, if a sewer is clogged, a site has lost power, or a mess is made the priorities definitely change and change quickly. We’ve got to roll with things accordingly; but I love the uncertainly that each day brings. I also love four and half months off to work on camp projects.” David & Lori, Indianapolis KOA Holiday
“Not including walking the dog? We monitor the public areas early to assess what needs to be done each day. Then we look at reports of outgoing and incoming campers to get sites cleaned and setup for incoming guests. We plan gatherings, monitor and order stock, manage a full office and maintenance staff. There is the phone to answer, fire wood to deliver, gardening to be done and making sure guests are safe and comfortable. That’s just a quick glimpse!”
What do you like most about owning a KOA?
“We love our campers. We’re blessed to have some of the greatest families ever who camp with us season-after-season. Many camp multiple times each year and we love laughing and seeing the kids have fun. We’ve had the honor of watching families make a great investment of love in their children and produce fine, successful adults. Beyond that, we love being a KOA because they bring us a world of support other campgrounds don’t have. KOA is a benefit to our business and supports us meeting our campers’ needs.”
“Owning a campground is a life for us and we thoroughly enjoy the friendship of our campers. We aren’t in this to become rich, it’s the friends we make both on the campground and within the industry that will last a lifetime. There is a camaraderie in the KOA system we like as well. You know that you can call any campground owner and they will be there to help you out.” Garry & Vicki, Shelby / Mansfield KOA Resort
“Being a part of making memories is something special. When you get to help someone build their first ever campfire or roast their first marshmallow it makes it all worth it.”
What’s your best advice for someone interested in campground ownership?
“To be successful it takes many hours or hard work. The campers like to see the owners involved.” Garry & Vicki, Shelby / Mansfield KOA Resort
“Never stop learning. We’ve spent the last three years learning a business we thought we knew!” Chris, Bangor / Holden KOA Journey
“Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy! Also, don’t forget to stop and take a few moments each day for yourself.” aNita & Bill, Chautauqua Lake KOA Holiday
“Start by using Work at KOA and work at a couple of KOA’s for a few seasons. This will give you a good idea of the culture and work required to own a KOA campground.”
And we can’t help but wonder, what did you do before owning a KOA?
Bill: I was a farmer
aNita: I worked as a teacher, but was also a mom and a waitress
Garry: I designed waste water and water facilities as an engineer
Vicki: My previous career was as a high school band and choir director
David: I owned my own logistics company in northern Ohio
Tim: Prior to KOA I was an office manager and division accountant
Robyn: I developed circuit board photo polymer films as an engineering technician
Ken: I was employed by Walmart
Iris: I was a project manager at a check printing company
Chris: I was in advertising sales for Yellow Pages
Join our next KOA Buyer’s Workshop to Learn More
Are you thinking about buying and owning your very own campground? Sign up for our KOA Buyer’s Workshop to learn how to turn your dream into reality. Workshop presenters from across the camping industry will give you the unique opportunity to see the inner-workings of a campground. By the end of our workshop you’ll have the hands-on knowledge you need to decide id campground ownership is for you.
- The benefits of campground ownership
- Factors to consider when buying an existing campground
- Understand asking price & valuation
- Acquiring the necessary funding
- Moving from contract to closing
- Understanding the scope of campground insurance required
- A comprehensive overview of owning & operating a campground
- Understanding KOA franchising and the KOA franchising system
Our Next Buyer’s Workshop
April 1 – 2, 2023
Location: Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort – Tucson, Arizona
Cost: $300 per person or $350 per couple – Register before March 5 to save $25!
(includes all materials as well as breakfast and two lunches)
Click here to sign up or call (800) 548 – 7239 to reserve your spot.
Want to learn more about owning your very own KOA? Visit www.ownaKOA.com.
About the Author: Kampgrounds of America
Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.