POCONO MANOR, Pa. – The 2023 Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association Convention was held Dec. 3-6 at the Kalahari Resort Poconos in Pocono Manor, Pa., with the theme, “Diamonds are Forever,” referring to PCOA’s 60thanniversary. The annual event, which is the highlight of the year for the association, was packed with informational workshops, inspirational speakers, and opportunities to network for the 80 campgrounds in attendance. Members celebrated successes, shared ideas, and recharged for the next camping season. Everyone agreed it was one of the best ever.
Guest speakers were Representative Doyle Heffley from the PA 122nd Legislative District, Senator Rosemary Brown from PA Senate District 40, Pastor Deb Staniszewski from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in East Stroudsburg, and Nathan Reigner, Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation
Rep. Heffley and Sen. Brown spoke at Monday’s annual meeting on legislative issues in the state and working together to promote Pennsylvania. A camper himself, Rep. Heffley shared stories of his family’s RVing adventures.
At Tuesday’s lunch Pastor Staniszewski spoke and gave a blessing, and Nathan Reigner talked about the importance of outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania and how it affects many other areas of the economy.
The educational workshops presented were:
- Automated Processes that Control Labor Expenses and Enhance the Guest Experience by Rachel Godbout
- Guest Services and the ADA by Kelly Jones
- What Digital Marketing Is and How it Applies to Campgrounds by Josh Richardson
- A Beginner’s Guide to Social Video by Kevin Furst
- Guests Gone Wild: Mitigating Risks and Handling Long-Term Guests by Christine Taylor
- KOA Marketing Report SWOT Analysis by Nichole Poisson
- Cybersecurity and Your Small Business by Ted Natartil
- Making an Experience for Your Guests by Kate Gagnon
- Taking the Overwhelm Out of Social Media by Jacob Hagofsky
- Electrical 101 For Campgrounds by Mike Sokol
- Why Cyber Insurance is Essential for Safeguarding Your Campground by Bethann Savage
- Maximize Site Traffic with Your PACamping.com Profile by Bryan Hickman and Curtis Buck
- Advanced Electrical Concepts for Campgrounds by Mike Sokol
- Three Witches Put Magic into Your Activity Program and Teach You Some New Tricks Panel: Eileen Vaughan, Judy Laporta, Debby Yeager
- Marketing Expertise by Mark Koep
In product showcases on Tuesday, Good Sam and Anderson’s Brochure Distribution highlighted their services.
12 Round Tables
Round table topics that were offered and their moderators were:
- PCOA Website – Jed Wood
- Innovative Profit Centers – Melinda Koehler
- Electrical Maintenance – Charlie Vakiener
- Plumbing Maintenance – James Kesterke
- Automation in the Campground Industry – Randy Quinby
- Emergency Preparedness – Karl Schmidt
Invasive Species and how they Impact your Operations – Linda Schmidt
- Splash Pads-Things to Consider Before Purchasing – Christine Letch
- Pros and Cons of Year-Round Operations – Tyler Grim
- Twenty Groups – Ryan McFarland
- Visitor Policies – Melinda Koehler
- RV and Sport Show Participation – Andrew Confer
Trade Show – The show consisted of 89 booths. There was great variety of vendors: cabin builders, apparel, advertising, entertainers, food distributors, software providers, mattress and furniture sales, security, online reservation systems, cabins, water treatment solutions, and souvenirs, plus many more. They reported excellent sales. Some said it was their best show ever.
Auction -The Pennsylvania Auction raises funds for educational endeavors, including the National School of RV Park and Campground Management. Thanks to the generosity of the vendors and campground owners, a total of $14,380 was raised for the Association and the Education Foundation. A big thank you to Corey Grim and Melinda Koehler for all the work they put into coordinating this event. The auctioneer was Coccodrilli Jr. of Legacy Auction & Realty, who did a great job.
Scholarship Winners Announced – During the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, the winners of the 2023 Scholarships were announced. Winner of the $1,000 college scholarship was Riley Wurz of Mountain Vista Campground. Winning $500 for college courses were Brynna Tushar, Austin Campground, Adriana Sheaffer, Pinch Pond Family Campground and Naythan Wood, Blue Rocks Family Campground.
Convention Attendance – There were 80 campgrounds in attendance, a near record. 270 people were at the auction dinner, which was the highest ever. Hotel room occupancy was by far the highest. Many owners were there early to enjoy the water park and over 25 children were in attendance, which was a great addition this year for the association. There was excitement to have so many next generation campground owners at the event.
A special thank you to Randy Quinby of Twin Bridge Campground, PCOA Education Committee Chairperson.
PCOA extends a big thank you to the following generous sponsors:
- Good Sam RV Travel Guide
- Wilcor International
- Andersons Brochure Distribution
- Utility Supply Group
- Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance
- Campground Studios
- Campground Owners Expo
- Strait Web Solutions
- The Towne Law Firm
- Danielle Windus-Cook Properties, LLC
- Mini Melts of America
- AGS/TxAD Internet
- Swing Kingdom
- Camp Casual/JR Products
WINNERS – TICKET TO WIN INCENTIVE PROGRAM
- One Free Registration for the 2024 PCOA Convention – Otter Lake Campground
- $200 to be used at any trade show vendor – Forest Ridge Cabins & Camping
- Free Featured Listing on the PCOA website – Crooked Creek Campground
- Free 1/2 Piggyback Program for 2024 – Buttonwood Campground
- $250 Cash Prize – Buttonwood Campground
- Passport Drawing – $200 to be used at any trade show vendor –Holiday Pines Campground
- Free booth at the 2024 Trade Show – Anderson’s Brochure Distribution
- Quarter-page ad in one issue of the PCOA News – Marshall & Sterling
- $200 cash award – Utility Supply Group
- Innovative Customer Service – Sandy Reilly-Saras Campground. Her customer service was above and beyond when customers are in their store or checking in.
- Bev Gruber Industry Spirit Award – Melinda Koehler- Driftstone Campground for her dedication and loyalty to PCOA over the last few years. Melinda goes above and beyond when needed.
The convention was held at the Kalahari Resort Poconos. It was a first-class experience that received many accolades from all of the attendees and vendors. The resort’s water park and arcade were available to anyone who stayed at the hotel, and many took advantage of those features with their families. The management was wonderful to work with and the customer service of the staff was exceptional. Everyone liked the larger space for the trade show and all of the rooms surrounding that central location.
Annual Meeting & Election
The PCOA annual meeting was held on Tuesday evening. The following officers were elected for a two-year term:
- President – Ryan McFarland, Buttonwood Campground
- Vice President – Tyler Grim, Canyon Country Campground
- Secretary – Jed Wood, Blue Rocks Family Campground
- Treasurer – James Kesterke, Otter Lake Camp Resort
- Regions I & II Vice President – Charlie Vakiener, Rose Point Park Cabins & Camping
- Regions III & IV Vice President – Bruce Serio, Mountain Creek Campground
- Regions V & VI Vice President – Melinda Koehler, Driftstone Campground
On Wednesday at the post-convention meeting, the following members were appointed to the board in Regional Director positions:
- Region 2: Brett Holmes- Benners Meadow Run Camping & Cabins
- Region 3: Joylnn Runkle- Hemlock Campground of Potter County
- Region 5: Sonya Zacker- Clayton Park RV Escape
Given a plaque upon retirement from the board was David Mull, formerly of Shady Brook Campground, who was Region 3 Director; Stephanie Vargas from Elizabethtown/Hershey KOA, who was Regions V & VI Vice President; and Valerie Medina Stahl from Mountain Pines Campground, who was Region 2 Director. A big thank you was extended to all of these fine folks for their hard work and dedication to PCOA.
PCOA is excited to announce that the 2024 Convention and Trade show will be at DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh Cranberry on December 9-12. The association is looking forward to a new location, new ideas and a whole new refresh on their convention.
In 2025, the event will be returning to the Kalahari Resort Poconos on Dec. 8-11, 2025.