BILLINGS, MT (May 14, 2012) - Kampgrounds of America's popular Come Kamp &Care With Us Weekend May 11-12 hosted nearly 10 percent more campers this year than in 2011.
"A combination of great weather, stabilizing fuel prices and fun event planning by our campground owners really brought out the campers," said Mike Gast, Vice President of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. "Of course, it's the official kickoff to KOA's 50th birthday, so that didn't hurt, either."
Participating KOAs throughout North America logged nearly 42,000 camper nights between last Wednesday and Sunday, a double-digit increase from Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend 2011.
Nearly 400 of the 480 KOA campgrounds in North America participated in the 9th annual event, where campers received a free night of camping last Saturday if they stayed as paying guests on Friday.
According to Tim Chilson, Owner of Meadville KOA, “We raised $120 thanks to the generosity of our campers last weekend, but we’ll continue to raise funds all summer long.” Meadville KOA Campground hosted a coloring contest, where the entrance fee went to the Care Camps, “robbed the kiddie train” (exchanged coins the children had for candy), and held BINGO games and 50/50 drawings where the proceeds went to care camps as well. “We’ll have the collection jar out all summer,” Chilson said, “And we’ll continue to run 50/50 raffles all summer to benefit Care Camps. It’s a great way to send children with cancer to camp and allow them to enjoy the healing nature of camping. It’s a great cause and a great way to give back to our local communities.”
The annual event also serves as the largest single fundraiser for KOA Care Camps for children with cancer, the official charity of KOA and the KOA Owner's Association. KOA Care Camps is a network of 44 specialized summer camps that provide a free summer camp experience for children with cancer and their siblings.
Donations are still being counted from this year's fundraising efforts, but last year, KOA campers helped raise more than $500,000 to benefit the charity.
"Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend isn't just the official start of the summer camping season," said Gast, "It's also a pretty good indicator of how things might look for the rest of the summer."
Advanced reservations for the summer months at KOA are running ahead of last year. The increase in KOA's inventory of Deluxe Cabins, which feature full bathrooms and kitchens, is also fueling increased camping by bringing in new campers who value the comforts Deluxe Cabins offer.
"The public's desire to reconnect to the outdoors is certainly increasing," Gast said. "Camping is the perfect, affordable answer."