Sunday, July 1, 2018

Why Visitor Fees Area Necessary

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.  Campgrounds 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.  Multiply 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 number of visitors 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.  But even if you’re in the campground on a week day evening, and your friends drop over to sit by the fire, you’re still utilizing the campground facilities. No one visits for more than hour without using the restrooms.  If your visitor was injured, they’d want their injuries covered, wouldn’t they?  The campground restrooms costs of soap, water, paper towels, lights, water usage, and sewer usage all cost money.  They aren’t free, so why should your visitor’s usage be free. 
 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 (like 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 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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Wish Upon A Butterfly Weekend at Meadville KOA

In 1984 the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) Owners Association created KOA Care Camps to provide opportunities for kids with cancer to attend oncology camps, where they can escape from their pain and suffering, receive their treatments, and have lots of fun while being with other kids just like them.  

Since inception, KOA Care Camps has raised more than $13,000,000 so kids can attend camp free of charge with no additional cost to their already financially burdened families. 
As the number of kids diagnosed with cancer continues to grow so does the demand for funding. In 2017 KOA provided financial support to 129 oncology camps disbursing more than $1.3 million in operating and capital grants.

KOA Care camps are funded through KOA.  KOA pays for 100% of the administration costs of this charity, so that 100% of every donation goes straight to helping send sick child to camp. 
To support this effort Meadville KOA is hosting it’s “Wish Upon A Butterfly” weekend on August 4th. 

We purchase butterflies from a local butterfly farm, and you buy the butterfly, and when you do, 100% of the purchase of the butterfly goes to KOA Care Camps. 
So, when you attend this fun event and buy a butterfly for $11.00.  All $11.00 goes to help send critically ill children to enjoy the healing nature of camp!

This is a great event that your whole family will love!  Have you or your children or grandchildren ever seen and held a real, live, monarch butterfly before?  They will have the opportunity to just that at this one of a kind, event!  Secondly, you’re helping to replenish the monarch butterfly populations!  The populations of these beautiful creatures has greatly diminished due to the loss of milkweed (their primary food) and use of weed killers and pesticides.  Third, you’re helping to send critically ill children to enjoy the healing nature of camp!  How can you not feel great about being part of all that?    

So, this event is August 4th, why are we telling you about it in June?  We have to order the butterflies by June 29.  If you’re planning to attend this great weekend, please be sure to sign up for your butterflies if you want to participate in the Saturday afternoon butterfly release. 
As always, we thank you for your generous donations, and we thank you for helping us to support care camps!   

By Robyn Chilson

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May is Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle & Camping Month!

May is Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle & Camping Month!

Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania, has designated May as Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Month.  The month is designed to introduce non-campers to camping in the great outdoors of Pennsylvania.  For the past nineteen years the Governor of Pennsylvania has proclaimed May as Recreation Vehicle and Camping Month.   

Pennsylvania has so much to offer tourists with its unique sites, history, and culture. It is also the third leading manufacturer of RVs in the nation and hosts the industries largest trade and retail show in the country at the Hershey Park Entertainment & Resorts Complex ®. The Governor encourages all citizens to pursue their passions and escape with their families on the road across the farthest reaches of our state.

Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) produces a free printed and online PA Camping directory.  You can request a printed one by calling 888-660-7262 or visit the PCOA online directory at 

Many first-time Pennsylvania campers will find discounts at PA campgrounds during the Month.  If you don’t own an RV, you can still enjoy camping at many campgrounds that offer camping cabins or rental units, which are also listed online at  Cabins can range from primitive camping cabins with just beds to full service deluxe lodging with kitchens and bathrooms.  There are also a host of campgrounds which offer yurts, teepees, covered wagons, tree houses, and many more unique lodging opportunities for a a fun get away with your kids! 

Meadville KOA Campground is offering one night of camping for $20, when campers buy one night of camping at the regular spring time rate on May 11th & 12th.  You can read more about it at  Or call us at 814-789-3251 to make your reservations today!  (Sorry, but this discount offer does not apply to our cabin rentals). 

Many campgrounds across Pennsylvania also offer seasonal and extended stay camping.  Seasonal or extended stay RVing simply means that you can park you RV at their park for a month, several months, or for the entire camping season!  This makes a great way to spend more time with your family enjoying your RV and less time doing all the work of RVing.   

If you are interested in owning your own RV, you can visit any one of the Western PA RV Dealers!  You can find them at:  Or, if you want an RV dealer in another part of PA, you can find one at:  PA Recreation Vehicle & Camping Association RV Dealerships.  You can request a free Explore PA Membership Directory by calling 1-888-303-2887 or, you can find them online at:  What will you discover in your new RV? 

Camping & RVing are a great way to get your family outside to appreciate nature and to provide your family an affordable vacation.  Pennsylvania RV dealers offer a wide range of RV’s to meet your family’s camping and RVing needs!

Campgrounds offer a wide range of activities, events, and entertainment.  Your family can enjoy a wagon ride, a campfire, go fishing, and have the ability to explore the surrounding area, attend local events, fairs, festivals, and much more!

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

Meadville KOA Campground is Celebrates 40 Years of Serving Camping Families!

Meadville KOA Campground is turning 40 this year!  It’s expected to be another busy summer camping season for this hidden treasure in NW PA.  The campground has a history of serving camping families and also has a rich area heritage that pre-dates it as a campground. 

The McClemens family, who originally purchased the land from the Holland Land Company in 1893, built a homestead and barn here in 1914, in an area known at that time, as McClemen’s flats. 

In 1945, the Roae family purchased the property and turned the farm into an auction barn and built ponds for a fish hatchery where they raised and sold flathead minnows for fishing in Pymatuning Lake.  In 1978, they turned the auction barn and farm into Brookdale 1914 Campground, taking the name directly from the date on the old red barn and the brook that runs through the center of the property. 

According to the current owners, Tim and Robyn Chilson, people still come in and talk about the big barn with roller skating in the top of it at the campground.  The barn served as the main building complex for the campground until it burned down in 1984.  The campers helped rebuild the main building, which serves the local community and campers with a convenience store.  The main building also houses a rec. hall, game room, restrooms, showers, and laundry facility for the camper’s use. 

In 1983, the campground had only 60 campsites.  The Smorey family added another 100 plus sites to the campground prior to the Chilson family purchasing it in October of 1999. 
The Chilsons have continued to expand the campground, adding ten additional 50 amp sites, 2 deluxe cabins, a camping cabin, a mini golf course, a jumping pillow, new playgrounds, and sewer service to all seasonal campsites and 23 additional overnight campsites, Wi-Fi, and cable TV to all full-hookup overnight and seasonal campsites! 

In 2010, the Chilsons franchised with Kampgrounds of America, and joined North America’s largest and best known camping organization.  KOA boasts almost 500 campgrounds across the United States and Canada.  According to owner Tim Chilson, the campground infrastructure improvements are to continually improve the campground and to meet the ever-changing needs of the RVer.  “As the technology changes and RVing changes, we have to expand our infrastructure not only to continue to meet our customers expectations, but to exceed them. We also need to maintain KOA quality standards which stays at the forefront of those RVer demands.” 

Meadville KOA is rated in the top of campgrounds nationally.  In addition, camper reviews have helped us achieve the KOA Founder’s and President’s Awards again for 2017-2018.  “We’re already booking this year for many of our summer and holiday weekends.  We have campers who stay with us every season who have their sites already reserved, and the phone is still ringing,” Chilson said.  

In addition, Chilson added that their seasonal camper numbers are up, but they still have some availability for the 2018 camping season.  “Seasonal campers,” Chilson explained, “are people who park their RV at the campground for the entire summer.  As such, they can drive more economical vehicles to the campground instead of towing, and save money on fuel, and all the work of short term camping.  They get the maximum use of their RV for minimal costs and less work.”

Meadville KOA is hosting a 40th Birthday Weekend on June 10 to celebrate the campground’s 40th year of operation! We’re inviting campers who’ve camped with us over the years to come and visit for the afternoon and take a stroll down memory lane with us!  There will be photos from seasons gone by, cake, ice cream and some social time with our campers.  They can visit with old friends and maybe make some new friends!  “We’re not just celebrating our 40th anniversary one weekend,” Chilson said, “We’ll be celebrating it all summer long!” 

The Chilson family hopes the business will continue to grow by introducing more people to the fun and family oriented events and activities they provide at the campground.  “We continue do a host of fun events and activities every summer,” Chilson said.  

Chilson added, “As an example, our campers continue to support us by inviting their friends to come try Meadville KOA.  Friends and family are still our biggest source of new camper referrals, and has been for the 18 years we’ve owned the park.  This year, on Oct 14 & 15, we have a customer appreciation weekend and BOGO.  When an existing camper brings a new camping family with them, each family gets one night free when they buy a night.  It’s a great way to introduce their friends to Meadville KOA and it’s a great way for us to thank them for doing that.” 

Meadville KOA invites current and past campers to join them for this great celebration!  The cake and ice cream will be Saturday afternoon at 2:00!  We hope you’ll stop in, bring your old photos, and visit with old friends and maybe make some new friends.

Tim & Robyn Chilson CPOs, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground.  Robyn can be reached at

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

KOA’s Big Discount Weekends!

February is a great time of year to begin booking your summer campouts.  Everyone loves a discount, and that is why you need to know about the KOA Value Kard Rewards Membership, and these special discount weekends offered at KOA Campgrounds.  They can provide big savings for your family!

You do not have to be a KOA Value Kard Member to camp at a KOA campground.  All campers are welcome at KOA campgrounds.  If you do become a KOA Value Kard Rewards Member, it pays you back with big savings!  The more you camp at KOA Campgrounds, the more points you accumulate, and the more discounts or free camping you’ll receive. 

First, for a yearly membership of just $30.00, you save 10% on every stay at any of the almost 500 KOA Campgrounds across the US and Canada.  Secondly, you receive points for each stay, card renewal, special offers, and more.  The points you receive with each campout, can later be redeemed for more discounts or free camping.  And, as long as you maintain your membership they even carry over from year to year.  Third, being a KOA member entitles you to these special discount weekends listed below, and the Hot Deals advertised on the KOA website for each individual KOA Campground.  You can get more information about KOA’s Value Kard Rewards Program at  If you have any questions about the program that we can answer for you, please feel free to call us, and we’ll help you!

Each year, KOA offers these special weekends.  If you take advantage of just the VKR weekend, where you receive one night free when you purchase one, it will more than pay for your $30 membership fee, and you’re saving additional money every time you camp!   

May 11 & 12 is Care Camps Big Weekend!  All paying guests renting a campsite Friday May 11, receives Saturday May 12 for just $20.00!  We dedicate this weekend to raising money for Care Camps across the United States to help send sick children to enjoy the healing nature of camp.  In 2017, thanks to the generosity of our wonderful campers and suppliers, KOA raised over $1,000,000 for this effort.  In addition, KOA covers all the administrative costs for the charity.  That means, that every dollar of every donation our campers make, goes directly to sending a critically ill child to camp!  This weekend can save your family on camping! We hope you’ll donate to help us send a child to camp!  Your family saves big on your weekend of camping, and you’ll walk away feeling great about helping a sick child enjoy just being a kid at camp!  It truly redefines who they are, and as always, we thank you for your generosity.     

On Father’s Day Weekend, June 15 & 16, kids camp free for all Value Kard Reward Members at all participating KOA Campgrounds!  If you have a large family or want to take the grandchildren or bring extra kids camping for Father’s Day, this is the perfect weekend for you to come camp!  The participating campgrounds will have fun family events and activities planned to celebrate Father’s Day!  Come join us at Meadville KOA! 

Each year in September, KOA hosts a national Value Kard Reward Members Appreciation (VKR) Weekend!  KOA wants to make sure you know how much we appreciate all of our great KOA Value Kard Reward Members!  All KOA Value Kard Members receive Saturday night at no charge when they purchase Friday night at all participating KOA Campgrounds.  This year, the national Value Card Weekend is September 14 & 15 at all participating KOA Campgrounds.  Come join us for this great weekend of fall camping that more than pays for your KOA membership and gets you points!   

No matter how you add it up, if you take advantage of just the Care Camps Big Weekend, or just the Value Kard Rewards Membership Appreciation Weekend, you’ll have more than paid for the cost of the KOA Value Rewards Kard Membership fee and already started saving money and collecting points.  You can get more information about KOA’s national events and which campgrounds are participating at           

We hope that your summer camping plans include us at Meadville KOA Camp-ground! We invite you to join us for Care Camp Weekends and to not only get a great discount for your family, but to help us change the lives of critically ill children. We thank you, as always, for your generosity.  

We look forward to seeing you this summer!  Until we do, we always wish you safe and fun camping, wherever your travels take you!     

By Robyn Chilson

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

Monday, January 1, 2018

It’s 2018 RV Show Season!

It’s Time to Attend the 2018 RV Shows!

RV Shows are a great place to begin your search for local reputable RV dealers.  Local RV Shows are generally scheduled for January and February in the Northwestern PA and Eastern Ohio when dealerships are slowest. 

RV Shows provide you the opportunity to see newest models and talk to dealerships that you may not have heard of, and reduce your expenses and time by not having to drive to many different dealerships. 

It’s one stop RV shopping.  As a customer you can see and compare prices of like models, brands, layouts, and more with one stop shopping.  There is always a huge range of quality and prices. 

Finding the Right RV

When comparing units, make sure you’re comparing the prices of like models of differing brands.  One RV may look like another one, but you need to compare the construction, included equipment, options, and features they both have to offer. See who offers the best deal but remember if the dealer isn’t reputable or isn’t equipped to work on the RV, or is located too far away to conveniently return the RV for service, your purchase may not turn out to be the best deal.  Don’t be afraid to talk with other RVers at the show. Many of these people have years of RV experience and knowledge of different products and dealerships.  Most will be honest and tell you when and where they’ve gotten the best deals & service.   

Buying an RV from a local reputable dealer insures you the best possible service, convenience, and shortest distance to travel for maintenance, repairs, & warranty work.  It is always a good idea to visit the dealership’s physical location before you buy, check out their service department, service hours, etc.  In addition, many RV dealers offer show discounts and sometimes manufacturer rebates are available.  So not only do you save money with the one stop shopping, but there are huge savings in the purchase prices!  RV shows sometimes include educational seminars, entertainment, and raffles for door prizes, free RVs, and more!  So there are a lot of potential gains to attending!  Show specials also sometimes include discounts or coupons from campgrounds.  So, your new RV sometimes comes with savings to use it, too!

Special Camping Deals

For more information about local RV Dealers who have partnered with campgrounds in Western PA who offer over $1,000.00 in free Camping with the purchase of a new RV from those dealerships in a Very Special Camper (VSC) Discount Offer, visit our website at:

Campgrounds and RV Parks Featured

RV shows aren’t just for RV dealers to showcase new and used RVs.  RV shows offer a wealth of information on the whole RVing industry.  Most campgrounds or RV resorts are slow or closed for the winter.  RV shows allow campgrounds to showcase new activities, special events, new amenities & extended stay (aka seasonal camping) availability to potential campers.  Make sure you stop by their booths and find new places to explore and exciting things to do with your family this summer!   

Other Camping Accessories 

You can also find information for aftermarket RV products, RV accessories, RVing insurance, Camping or RVing Clubs, Discount Clubs, pick up brochures, camping directories for your state and other states, or the free KOA directory for the whole USA and Canada and more!  

Tent Camping and Cabin Vacations Information

You don’t even have to own an RV to enjoy camping or go to the RV Shows!  Even if you don’t intend to buy an RV, you can learn about cabin camping or pick up information about campgrounds for tent camping! 

Many people think of a camping vacation as ‘roughing it” with a tent, on the ground, in the rain, and a less than pleasurable vacation.  This is no longer the case.  For about the price of a hotel room, most campgrounds are now offering cabin rentals.  Prices for the cabin rentals vary by campground and the amenities offered.  “Camping cabins” are generally the least expensive because they offer the fewest amenities.  They are generally one room with beds and a table.  Cottage Cabins sleep 2-4 people may offer kitchenettes, or a few more amenities. Deluxe cabins are lodges with deluxe facilities like multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, and bathrooms.  There is no requirement to own an RV to have a family fun camping vacation!  You can enjoy the luxury of RVing with a camping vacation in a cabin and not miss any of the campground recreation programs and planned activities! 

Why not pack up the family for a fun winter-day activity and attend one of the local RV shows in your area.  Invite a friend to come along, and enjoy a day of looking forward to a summer camping season filled with friends & fun at these RV Shows!

RV Show Dates and Locations

Pittsburgh RV Show January 06 - 14  At David Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA!  See their website for show hours, admission prices, parking, and discounts offered at:!  Check them out on Facebook (they raffle off free tickets)!  And follow us on Facebook at, for a chance to win free tickets too!   

Cleveland, Ohio RV Super Show, January 10 – 14, at the I-X Center, Cleveland, OH. 
Info on show hours, admission, and parking fees along with discount coupons for admission available on their website at:!

Erie RV Show Feb 10 - 13 At the Bayfront Convention Center, Erie, PA!  The show entrance is family affordable and the parking is free, but the limited floor space limits the number of dealers and RVs on display! For more info see their website online at:

We invite you to attend any and all of these RV Shows!  Stop by the KOA Kampgrounds booth and pick up some brochures, a KOA directory and a KOA bag!  Tell folks in the booth that you received your invitation to the RV Show from Meadville KOA Campground!  We hope to see you there!    

By Robyn Chilson

Robyn and her husband Tim Chilson, are CPO campground owners who own and operate Meadville KOA.  You can reach her at 814-78-3251.