Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thank you!

It’s been a great summer!  The spring weather was too wet, but the summer and autumn redeemed itself with some great weather for camping!  We can’t ask for much more than that, can we? 

We met campers new to Meadville KOA and some new to camping!  We also saw many of our regular campers who’ve camped with us for years!  Some have even camped with us for generations.    
We just wanted to take this time to tell you how much we appreciate having your family camp with us!  We try to run a family campground with fun activities, and clean facilities for your family’s enjoyment.  We take that responsibility seriously, and hope that it shows in the facilities, our cleanliness standards, and the type of entertainment we provide your families. 

We’ve enjoyed watching children grow up over the years, and seen many of them turn into fine young adults.  What a great investment you’re making by camping with your kids.  And we are eager to meet, and get to know new families who are just beginning their journey into the camping and RV lifestyle.  We too hope that they’ll spend many years camping with us! 

As we’re beginning our task of planning our events and activities for the 2016 season, we want you to know that it is our plan to continue to make improvements to our events, facilities, and amenities at Meadville KOA Campground. 

We hope that you will bear with us while strive to make those changes, and that you will continue to provide us your input and assistance in making the changes that you, the camping consumer want.  We hope you’ll continue to do that through our KOA Guest Surveys.

Your ratings in 2015, helped us to achieve us both the KOA President’s and Founder’s Awards again this year!  We thank you, our campers, for taking the time to tell us what we need to hear!  We sincerely thank you!    

We’re already looking forward to seeing you next spring or this winter at the RV Shows!  Stop by the booth to see us and say hello!  We have some great fun in store for next season.

Until we see you again, we always wish you safe and happy kamping, where ever your travels take you!

See you soon!

Tim & Robyn Chilson, Owners

Tim & Robyn Chilson are both CPO, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.  Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Camping

The events and activities are winding down at Meadville KOA (Kampgrounds of America) by the time the month of October arrives but there are still some great camping weekends remaining this camping season and some of them include big savings so don't winterize that RV just yet!

Many RVers use October as a perfect time to travel and enjoy the fall foliage. "With gas prices lowered, fall festivals, and fall foliage at its’ prime, it's a perfect time to get outside, enjoy the beautiful autumn weather remaining, and do some camping," Meadville KOA Campground Owner Tim Chilson added. "We have some great price discounts and special offers, which makes it even more affordable for people to get out and enjoy fall festivals like the Franklin Applefest on Oct. 2-4, and the Pioneer Steam Show in Saegertown and Conneaut Lake Area Pumpkinfest on Oct. 9-11.”

This coming Weekend is Applefest and campers can use their returning camper discounts to save 15% on their second stay or 20% on their 3rd or more stays with us this summer.  They can stay here and enjoy our activities or they can visit the Applefest in Franklin. But that’s not all!  They can leave their RV here all week at no charge as long as they are camping here the next weekend. 
October 9-11 is Customer Appreciation Weekend.  Campers can use the discounts mentioned above, or they can take advantage of the BOGO offer.  Any camper who brings a new camping family (who has never camped here before that weekend), both families receive Saturday night camping for free when they purchase their campsite Friday night! 

“Where else do you get that,” Chilson asked.  He went on to add, “That is a great way to introduce your friends to Meadville KOA and it doubles your fun for that weekend, and it does it at half the price!”

October 16-18 is the final weekend for the 2015 season at Meadville.  All campsites are discounted $10 per night!

“You almost can’t afford to not camp these last few weekends!“  Chilson went on to add, “Our prices with the discount are below State Park’s rates and you get free Wi-Fi, Cable TV, and catch and release fishing, not to mention our events and activities for the next two weekends and you’re a close drive to the local festivals and activities!"

If you’re into haunted attractions, they run now through the end of October.  There are also autumn driving tours in the area that maximize your fall foliage viewing as well.  They are provided on the Crawford County Visitor’s Bureau website.  There are Fall Foliage Train Rides at the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, and not only can you enjoy those wonderful autumn festivals, haunted attractions, and the fall foliage, but the cool evenings provide wonderful opportunities to enjoy an autumn evening campfire and some warmed apple cider and s'mores! 

“October is also a great month to visit campgrounds if you’re looking for a seasonal camping site,” according to Chilson.  “Campers can look at the availability and pick a site for the following season.  And because our sites include free onsite winter storage with their deposit, they can leave the RV in onsite storage here for the winter, come open up in the spring, and start camping!  They save money by not having to pay for storage, and the convenience is great, and it allows our seasonal campers to maximize the use of their RV for the whole 2015 summer season!”

Meadville KOA Campground is located on Route 27 and hosts 160 camp sites, 4 cabins (which includes two, lake-front deluxe lodges).  Our Seasonal Campers get the benefit of us mowing and trimming their campsites, seven fishing ponds for catch and release fishing (no license required), a swimming pool, a creek for wading, a hiking trail, volleyball, basketball, soccer & ball field, horseshoe pits, themed weekend events with planned activities, a reduced rate on the rental amenities, and much more!

By Robyn Chilson
Tim & Robyn Chilson are both CPOs, and they have owned and operated Meadville KOA for 15 years. Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Seasonal Camping?

As summer gives way to autumn, most campers’ thoughts turn to thoughts of school starting, autumn campfires, and Halloween Weekends.  While you're enjoying those camping weekends, maybe it's time to think about next summer, and begin planning your family’s camping vacation time!       

Here are some reasons why we think Meadville KOA might be the right choice for your family! 

The Price is right!  When you compare our unlimited seasonal camping rates to overnight camping, the discount you get by being a seasonal camper is huge!  Most campgrounds provide similar services and activities, but ask about extras!  Some campgrounds provide all inclusive seasonal rates like we do, and some do not.  Make sure you know exactly what your expenses will be before you sign that Seasonal Camping Agreement!   When you do the math, you’ll find that the price is right!

What’s included in the Seasonal Rate?

  • We do the mowing!  That is a premium service.  Meadville KOA Campground is the only campground in NW PA that offers that at no additional charge.  What that means is no mower to buy, transport or store.  No gas to buy and transport, and no work!  You can spend more time having fun and less time working!  Even more importantly, it makes our park quiet.  There aren’t mowers running on Saturdays when you’re trying to relax and enjoy sleeping in. 
  • Unlimited camping for 2 adults and 2 children, or a 3rd adult.  Most campgrounds charge extra for extra adults. 
  • Seasonal Campsites have water, sewer, refuse, and the electric is metered.  The water, sewer, and garbage services are included in your seasonal rate.  The electric (and we offer 30 and 50 amp) are metered, which means you only pay for what you use. 
  • Wi-Fi and cable TV are included!  We provide Wi-Fi to all of our Seasonal campsites, and each campsite has 48 channels of Cable TV.  Channels include Disney, ESPN, Movie Channels, 5 local channels, The Weather Channel, and more!  They make camping on rainy weekends easier with, or without the kids or grand kids!
  • Themed event weekend’s planned activities are included!  We even include children’s crafts and meals for the people listed on your seasonal camping agreement!  Where else do you get that?
  • We have a reduced, pre-paid visitor’s program, and a reduced pre-paid extra camper program for your extended family members.  It’s affordable and allows your extended family to come enjoy the campground!
  • We have a reduced cost fun band for the rental amenities!  It’s affordable and will keep your tweens and teens busy!
  • The rate includes your on site winter storage of your RV!  (With your deposit and signed camping agreement for the following season.)
  • We have an interest-free payment plan with a $75 Rebate if you pay in full by January 1!  That helps make it fit your family budget!
Right now is the perfect time to select a site!  Like most campgrounds, we have a few openings for next season this time of year.  So it’s the perfect time to shop for a campsite!  Don’t forget that we have a winter payment plan and we even include on site winter storage in the fees!  If you normally pay for a storage facility, that’ll save you even more money!   

Save more by getting an early bird discount!  You can save even more money by paying for your campsite early.  We provide that $75 rebate off the $2250 if you’re paid in full by Jan 1!    

Meet new people!  Seasonal campers are like a small community.  They become friends, hang out, play cards or yard games, have group campfires, their children become friends, play together, and much more!  Many volunteer to help with activities and events and bring lots of fun to their camping environment in a family-friendly way!  What a great way to meet new people and make new friends!  We hope you’ll consider joining our KOA family!      

We’re a family campground!  We run a campground that caters to families of all ages.  There aren’t golf carts racing around, there are quiet hours, etc.  We are all about family fun!  We want your family to create a lifetime of memories from camping here!  That is our goal!  And we have 3rd and now 4th generations of campers camping here at Meadville KOA! 

We save you work!  Recreating is never work free.  But, you can save all the work of hooking up, unhooking, setting, up, tearing down, and towing expenses by camping seasonally.  You get a vacation home away from home, for about the price of one vacation! Now that’s a savings and it makes vacationing every weekend all season long even easier!  Vacation right into autumn and enjoy the fall foliage and autumn events and activities, and who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire?

Make the right choice!  Seasonal camping maximizes your summer vacation time and use of your RV while minimizing your expenses!  It can provide your family a summer full of fun, family oriented camping experiences for about the same price as one vacation!  Make sure you take a little time to consider that idea, and how it can help your family get the biggest bang for your buck next summer!  Then, we hope you’ll start looking at local campgrounds and thinking about becoming a seasonal camper!  It’s not too late to move onto a site this fall!  Campground owners are looking forward to talking with you and showing you all the fun events and activities we’re already planning for next summer! 

By Robyn Chilson

Tim & Robyn Chilson are both CPO, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.  Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meet This Featured Meadville KOA Kamping Family!

We want to introduce you to a camping family that stayed with us back in June of this summer.  They are Al & Janice Geniviva, and their daughter, Juliet!

They are from Gibsonia, PA and camped with us on their “shake-down cruise”.  A shake down cruise is a camping trip taken by purchasers of a new RV to make sure they’ve “worked all the bugs out” before a big trip!  Nothing ruins a vacation any faster than vehicle or RV trouble while traveling.  So most prudent new owners do a trial run to help prevent such catastrophes! 

You see they purchased their new 18’ Bambi Airstream Trailer in Greensburg, PA from Airsteam of Western PA (pictured in photo)!  Known for their quality and value, Airstream trailers generally have few, if any bugs to work out.  But it’s always better to be safe, than sorry.  After all, we all know that “stuff happens”!  And according to these folks they believe in that old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  

They are planning a week-long vacation in late July to Belfast Maine!  They wanted to make sure they were good to go before taking off on a long distance trip like that.  We could tell from our brief conversation that they were very much looking forward to this trip, and wanted everything to go well.

When asked why they purchased an Airstream, they answered that they tow it with a small truck, and wanted something that was light weight, high quality, and would hold its value.  Airstream trailers certainly have a reputation for meeting their criteria.  But moreover, they just love the Airstream and what it had to offer them. 

New, first time campers or campers with new RVs aren’t anything new to Meadville KOA.  We escort every RV camper to their campsite and help get them parked.  It's part of our customer service and hospitality services. It gives us a chance to help teach people some basics about backing an RV up, or positioning their RV on a campsite.  Our staff often shows campers how to hook up utilities, level, dump tanks, etc.  Of course the best time to do a shake down cruise or first time outing is in the spring or early summer when campgrounds are less busy.  But even on busy weekends, our staff tries to take the time to answer questions, and help new RVers learn the ropes.  We’re honored to have so many customers come camp with us to try out their new RV and ask questions.  It’s just another part of paying it forward and helping our campers. 

We hope that you’ll come see what’s behind the yellow sign at Meadville KOA this summer, bring the family and spend your vacation enjoying a campground where modern convenience meets nature! 

Until we see you, we wish you safe and happy kamping, where ever your travels take you!    

By Robyn Chilson

Tim & Robyn Chilson, CPOs, who own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA. Robyn can be reached at 814-789-3251.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Staying Safe While Camping

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when camping.  Don’t be lulled into thinking that just because you’re in a tent, cabin, or are RV camping in a private campground or RV park a few miles out of town that you’re safe, and that the laws of your nature don’t apply to you!
Camping history is full of stories about bears getting into bird feeders, coolers, and tents.  These encounters are generally a young bear, newly kicked out of the den because mom now has a new cub, and who now has to fend for himself.  They quickly learn to associate campers with an easy meal.  The teenage equivalent of a McDonald’s drive-thru.
The food source can be campers who leave food on their campsite picnic table that can be right up under the awning of the RV, unburned food scraps in a fire pit, or forgetting to put the cooler away, a bag of garbage they failed to take to the dumpster before nightfall, bird feeders they have out, and even grease from a BBQ grill or dumped from a fryer.
These simple things can attract bears.  And the last thing you want is you, your children, spouse, or pets having a face to face meeting with a bruin.  While attacks by black bears are rare, they can happen and it’s important to remember that you’re in their territory.  They were here, in the woodlots of Pennsylvania, long before RVs and campers were. 
As their guest, we need to make sure we’re doing our part to not cause them the heartache of being trapped out and relocated.  It isn’t fair to the animals.      
So please follow these simple safety tips when you are camping to ensure your safety.
  1. Never, ever allow your children to take food in their tents.  If the children are sleeping in a tent, they need to eat at the picnic table, or in the RV.  Never, ever, never take food in the tent. 
  2. Never leave food out on your picnic table, especially overnight.  Put the cooler in the RV or trunk.  You become a McD’s dive thru, remember?  It’ll entice them to come right into your campsite for that easy meal.
  3. Never place food scraps in the campfire.  All food scraps need to go into the garbage bag and to the dumpster every evening.  Cooking oil from fryers needs to cool, and then go back in the bottles it came out of and placed in the dumpster.  Never dump oil in the campground.  
  4. Take the garbage to the dumpster each night before retiring.  Never leave garbage out overnight.  A bag of garbage will attract, skunks, raccoons, bears, opossums, dogs, etc. that can quickly turn a fun, family outing into a bad experience.  Not only will they make a mess, but they’ll be back, and they become ever more aggressive to get their meal.  That can place your family at risk of being bitten by a raccoon, skunk, bear, dog, etc.
  5. Never try to feed or entice bears or other critters.  While they may be cute to see at a distance, they aren’t cute if they bite you and you have to go through a series of very painful rabies shots. 
  6. If you see fresh bear skat while hiking, make sure you talk to your friends loudly or if you’re alone talk to the bears loudly or sing a song loudly, keep your head up, and be on the lookout for the bear.  If you encounter a bear, give it lots of room, and keep your distance.  Never run from one. Back away from the situation if you can.  And try to keep yourself positioned so you’re never between a sow and her cub.  That can be very dangerous.
  7. Don’t forget that you need to know how to identify snakes too.  You could encounter them while hiking, camping, fishing, etc.  Make sure, like bears, you watch where you’re walking, and know your venomous snakes from non-venomous snakes.  Never play with snakes.  Even a non-poisonous snake bite can be nasty and require medical attention.
  8. Make sure you know your surroundings and keep your pets leashed.  Small animals like cats and dogs can and do become prey for coyotes.    
  9. And last, but certainly not least, know your plants.  Teach your children the old adage “leaves of three, leave it be”.  Watch for and stay out of poison ivy, poison sumac, and other plants that can cause very uncomfortable skin rashes.       
The best way to have a safe and fun camping adventure it to remember that the outdoors can have hazards that can be difficult to navigate if you forget that you’re a guest in the great outdoors!  So have fun, but be smart and stay safe!

By Robyn Chilson

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Are Visitor Fees Charged At Campgrounds & RV Parks?

No matter which campground that campers choose to stay at, if they have friends or family living in or near that area, chances are, they’ll want to visit them.  When guests arrive at the campground, they are often charged a visitation fee, and many are surprised by that.  Below, we’ve listed some reasons why visitor fees are necessary.   

The campground’s facilities can only handle so many people at a time.  It isn’t that campground owners don’t want visitors.  On the contrary, we love you to invite people to come visit.  We love to have people see and enjoy our parks.  We take great pride in them.  However, additional people place an extra burden on the facilities.  There are the obvious additional expenses of toilet tissue, paper towels, cleaning supplies, attendant’s labor, garbage bags, and more.  The prices of these supplies have sky rocketed with increased petroleum prices.  We have to recoup those costs. 

Popular, private campgrounds receive hundreds of visitors a month, which can translate into thousands of visitors a season, which translates into huge extra expenses for the campground.  The less obvious long-term expense is that expanding facilities is a huge investment these days and in order to maintain the facilities a campground has, they have to stay within the capacity boundaries for which their water and sewage systems were designed and for which they are permitted.  Water system quality, pool samples, and sewage testing are required by the state to the tune of thousands of dollars a season.  All for good reason, as they are designed to keep the public’s drinking water, swimming facilities, and ground water safe.  However, when extra burdens are cast upon those facilities, the costs to maintain and operate them increase as well.  If the testing of those systems is that expensive, imagine the increased operating expenses for them as well.

State and local laws, set occupancy, and facilities are only permitted for so many people accordingly.  Design load and licensing of campgrounds or the facilities is similar to the ‘seating capacity’ license you see in food services, however recognize that because a campground does not have tables and chairs that limit occupancy, it must be done in another fashion.  The state issues sewer treatment permits based on the total number of campsites and number of people per campsite, times the average water usage per campsite.  That is why the number of people per campsite and the total number of campsites is limited.  When the campground is full, an extra 8 people is another campsite.  Multiple that by several campsites, and the idea of overflowing sewer systems should come to mind.

In addition, the visitor rates aren’t normally set on the person who uses the facilities the least, but on the average cost of the visitors to the campground or RV park.  The campground owner assumes that your family will participate in activities and events, enjoy the entertainment provided, and or utilize the swimming pool, and other facilities and amenities.  These business owners know that their visitor rates go up dramatically on holiday and special event weekends.  The numbers of visitors increase because we have special activities and events; have better entertainers or entertainment and more things to do.

In some states, laws require that every visitor to a private outdoor hospitality property register, regardless of intent to visit residents or use the facilities. State health department require that business owners can identify all in residence and visiting in case health issues arise.  User pay fees are the fairest way to cover the costs of those inherent costs, and should a health risk arise, to identify the users at risk.

Security is always a concern.  Campgrounds, like anywhere else, can be a target for thieves, child predators, etc. So tracking who is in the park helps to reduce the chances of theft, child abductions, among others.  It provides more security for both your family and possessions.

Emergency Preparedness is essential!  What if the campground had to be evacuated in the event of a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado?  How would the campground account for who was on the premises and who might be missing?

Parking extra vehicles is another issue.  In most campgrounds, real estate is a premium.  So, too many cars per campsite quickly become a congestion and safety issue.  Most campgrounds limit the number of vehicles per campsite to one or two for safety reasons and rescue vehicle access.  Therefore, the campground needs to provide extra visitor parking areas to relieve that congestion and ensure access for emergency vehicles.  That means that there is a clerk that has to assign the visitors tags, provide access to the park, a campsite map to help the visitor to find the folks they desire to visit, and finally directions on where they are to park.  All of these materials and the employee’s time is an additional increase to the cost of operations to the business. 

Be a courteous camper!  No one wants to be camped next to a mob.  If you’re planning a family reunion, birthday party or another celebration of some sort, ask about using a pavilion or facility so as not to intrude on your camping neighbor!  

Increased visitors increase a campground’s liability insurance costs.  The rates for a campground’s liability insurance are based on the risk assessment and the number of people who occupy a campground during a season.  The higher the number of occupants in the RV Park or campground, the risk increases accordingly.  In addition, some insurance carriers argue that visitors are more likely to be injured because they are unfamiliar with their surroundings, may not be aware of all the rules or safety policies at campgrounds, and are less likely to be dressed appropriately for the camping or outdoor experience.  All of these things place the visitor at an increased risk for an injury.    

Remember that privately owned and operated campgrounds aren’t subsidized by tax dollars like federal, state, and county parks.  Even at most of those campgrounds, there is an entrance fee, and then camping fees on top of it.  They charge for visitors too.  It’s called day use fees.     

Read the back of your visitor's tag!  Many campgrounds, offer a full refund if you're only there a short time (less than an hour).  You just take the time-stamped tag back to the office and they'll refund your visitation fee if you were there in less than that amount of time.  

State Laws define unlawful trespass and theft of services.  Visitors or users of any private property that have not identified their purpose are considered trespassers, and are subject to trespass laws, and or theft of service charges. In some states, this is also called defrauding an inn keeper.  These laws help protect campgrounds from thieves, vagrants, etc.  Trying to cheat or defraud a campground owner as to how many people you have camping with you or visiting you can land you in hot water with the law.  Please don’t do that! It’s not only more honest and the right thing to do, it’s the law.  Please don’t place a campground owner in the position of having to have you arrested for unlawful trespass, defiant trespass, and/or theft of services.

Visitor’s fees, as you can see, are necessary.  There are additional costs associated with visitors.  It isn’t fair to pass those costs on to all the campers.  That is why most campgrounds charge the people receiving those services (i.e. the visitor) for the services rendered.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about a visitor’s fee, or worse yet encouraging another person to cheat or to avoid paying a visitors fee, remember that it is you, the RVer or camper, who will ultimately pay for that visit.  At the end of the business year, when the numbers come in, and that owner looks at the bottom line from that camping season, the campground owner will have to set their rates for the next season to offset their losses.  In other words, they’ll have to raise the campsite prices accordingly to pay for those extra supplies, extra tests, extra labor and extra maintenance.  So when visitors cheat, they aren’t cheating just the campground owner and breaking the law.  In the end, they are cheating the American consumer, and in this case, that is you, the camper. 

By Robyn Chilson

Tim & Robyn Chilson, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.  You can contact Robyn at 814-789-3251