Check out for RV and tent sites: 1:00 pm
Check out for cabins: 11:00 am
Early check ins or late check outs may be available. Please contact the office prior to arrival.
Sunday - Thursday: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Come join us on our journey rebuilding this Diamond in the RoughTo say that John and Sally Kelsey have experience bringing old campgrounds back to life is a bit of an understatement.“My wife's family owned a campground in Connecticut,” says John. “We took it over and rebuilt it, then turned it back over to them. We decided to move on and buy one of our own.”In 2002, the Kelseys purchased the Windy Acres in Westhampton, Massachusetts. Built in 1970, it originally had only a handful of campsites, but was eventually expanded by prior owners. After John and Sally purchased it, they added two swimming pools, upgraded the electric and enhanced a variety of amenities. In 2009 they converted that campground, becoming part of the KOA family. It wasn't long before they started looking for their next investment.“For the last few years we've been looking for another campground off and on,” John says. “The opportunity to purchase this campground came up and we jumped at it when we saw it listed on a broker website. It had been mismanaged for a long time and was only open for a few weeks last year. We saw the potential, so we bought it.”Back into the system.According to John, the Adirondack 1000 Islands Campground had been built as a KOA, but had fallen out of the system in 2004. When they closed on the purchase earlier this year, they knew immediately they wanted to make it a KOA campground again. The name change to Natural Bridge/Watertown KOA followed.“We know the value of the KOA brand,” he says. “If something is happening in the camping industry, KOA knows about it. It's good to be able to tap into that knowledge. Between the KampSight program and KOA.com, there's no better place to spend 10 percent of your revenue. A lot of private campground owners don't realize that, but it's a fact.”Although in need of a little TLC, it's not hard to see why the Kelseys were drawn to the Natural Bridge/Watertown KOA. It is located in a heavily wooded area with mature trees and is near boating and fishing areas, an ATV trail system and a number of antique and gift shops, making it perfect for campers with a variety of interests. The sites are large, and there are a variety of accommodation options, including RV sites with full and partial hookups, Camping Cabins and tent sites. It also offers an indoor swimming pool, allowing use in the shoulder seasons as well as the main season.“We want to bring this campground back to its former glory,” John says. “We know it will take some time and we've already run into a few challenges. For instance, we wanted to paint the bathrooms, but it's been so warm the walls are sweating—painting is a nightmare. We'll just have to take it one step at a time.”A family business.John and Sally's son Brian will be managing the Natural Bridge/Watertown KOA. Although new to campground management on a full-time basis, Brian understands what's required better than most. The Kelseys six children have grown up working on campgrounds.“There's no better way to raise kids in my opinion,” John says. “There are a lot of social benefits—they meet new people every week. They spend a lot of time outdoors and get to learn a little bit of everything. All of my kids learned to drive with the honey wagon.”He also says he and his wife are confident in Brian's abilities.“He was an auto mechanic before, and wanted a career change,” says John. “He was nervous at first, because he'll be doing everything at this one. Now that he's been down there for a while, he's starting to see that he can do it. We have no doubt he'll do great.”While Brian lives on and runs the New York campground, the Kelseys other children remain busy as well. One son just graduated from college in May and is going to work for JW Marriott, while another recently completed high school. Their oldest daughter is studying to be a registered nurse, while another is in a culinary arts high school. The couple also has a four-year-old.“We definitely stay busy with six kids,” John laughs. “Plus we now have three businesses. We have the campground in Massachusetts, the new one in New York and I own a copier repair company in Connecticut. I work there three days a week. Fortunately, travel between the campgrounds only takes about four hours each way, and I'll only need to be in New York every other weekend or so.”