Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Geocaching While Camping & RVing

Geocaching is the equivalent of a high tech scavenger hunt!  There are over 2 million geocaches world wide!  So there is bound to be some great caches near you – no matter where you’re camping!  And, you can do it any time of the day, any day of the week, and as little or much as you choose, making it convenient, family fun with no fees!    
Who plants or hides the caches?  The caches are created and placed in the hiding spot and then listed on by fellow geocachers.  You simply look up caches in the area where you’re camping and then go find them!  Then, share your experience on the same site!  Who knows, you may even decide to create geocaches in cool places near where you live or camp often!  And that is how this craze got started!    

Caches come in all kinds of different sizes, shapes, and difficulty!  They often contain a log or paper to sign, or you can swap trinkets if you choose.  As trinkets, people use personalized guitar picks, pencils, toys, polished stones, etc.  Each cache is a reflection of the person who hid the cache.  In many cases, the trip leads the geocacher to new and unusual places they may never have seen had they not been geocaching!
What equipment is required to go geocaching?  All you need is a hand held GPS or smart phone – and to download the geocaching app.  Create a free geocaching account and you’re ready to go!  Search for geocaches in the area where you’re camping, choose the geocache you want to go find, and then navigate your way to the find the geocach!  It’s that easy!
It’s very important to be respectful of the geocache requests posted on the app.  If they request you park in a certain area and walk, please do.  Many times, geocaches are on private property.  Damage to the property will inhibit others from being able to experience the cache.  Just as with national parks, the best policy is to take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints.  You should be able to take all the time you’d like – and take lots of great memories with you!  Don’t forget to get photos!     

Geocaches aren’t always easy to find – which is part of the fun!  So it’s okay to take the time to celebrate your find when you make your discovery!  Don’t forget to sign the logbook, swap trinkets if you choose, and put the geocache back where you found it.  Then, post your find on the app.  Allow the kids to take photos or selfies of themselves with the geocache and share it on their social media pages for their friends to see.  It’s that simple and it’s that much fun!  This is a great family activity!  It’s fun, great exercise, and gets the whole family outdoors discovering and enjoying the great outdoors!

Make sure you are properly attired for your geocaching adventure.  Make sure you have  jackets, rain gear, and proper footwear for different types of weather and conditions for the area you’re camping, hiking, or exploring.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re a few miles from the state hwy or town that there aren’t snakes, bear or other animals that you could encounter, or other hazards such as bees, bugs, or poison ivy.  That is, it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit in your nearby car, at the very least.     

Some areas have “geotrails”.  A geotrail is an area or route through an area which offers multiple geocaches tied together by a common theme.  You collect up the cache items by travelling through all those areas and visiting the caches, and then achieve a coin or some other symbol when you’ve collected them all.  In our area, you can find information about the Allegheny Geo Trail at  We hope that you’ll spend time exploring Crawford County as part of the Allegheny Geo Trail – the largest geo trail of its kind in Pennsylvania!  You can find more information and get geo coins at the at the Crawford County Visitor’s Bureau.   

One interesting geocache in our area can be found here at:  It seems that just a few miles from the campground, in the Brawley Cemetery, is the burial site of Joel Jones, Revolutionary Soldier and drummer boy for George Washington.

As you can see, you may find interesting and little-known historical sites, explore areas and sights off the beaten path not normally experienced, or earn coins for a geo-trail, all while having a blast exploring the beautiful surroundings of Northwestern Pennsylvania! 

So, why not add this fun family activity to your family’s adventures on your next camping or RVing trip?  It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s free!  What’s not to love! 

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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thank you for kamping with us in 2016!

2016 has been a great summer! We met new campers and were visited by old friends, making 2016 another banner camping season!  Thank you for choosing Meadville KOA!   

We are so excited to have had Meadville KOA featured on Crawford County Outdoors!  If you missed seeing that video, please check it out at:!  We appreciate them coming to see us, and trying to capture the essence of what Meadville KOA is really all about!

We had some great fun this last season, and hope we got a chance to catch you and your family having fun!  You can check out some of those camping memories at:

As we’re planning our events and activities for the 2017 season, we want you to know that it is our plan to continue to make improvements to our events, facilities, amenities, and customer service 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.

Sadly, we fell just a few points short of achieving our Founder’s award for 2016.  So we’d like to ask you, especially if you’re a regular who camps with us multiple times a summer and loves our campground, to please remember to complete and submit your Camping Customer Survey to KOA each time you camp with us!  All you have to do is provide us an email address to do that.  KOA will automatically send you the survey, which has just two questions, and only takes a couple minutes of your time.  Your ratings and comments count and are important to us!  And, we thank you for your support and making Meadville KOA an award-winning KOA Campground!      

Your ratings in 2016 helped us to achieve the KOA President’s Award this year!  We thank you, our campers, for taking the time to tell us what we need to hear!  We sincerely thank you!  We’ll proudly accept that award at the 2016 KOA Convention this fall in Chattanooga, TN. 

We have some great fun in store for next season which you can find on our website at  We hope that when you’re spending time with friends and family over the holidays, that you’ll include some great fun family camping at Meadville KOA in your schedule for 2017!  We hope you’ll check out and join us for some new fun events like our “Free the Butterflies” KOA Care Camp Fundraiser for 2017 and some old favorites!  Don’t forget to book early to ensure you get your favorite campsite!   

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the winter RV Shows and then again next spring!  We hope you’ll stop by the booth to see us and say hello!  The RV Shows are a great opportunity to get out this winter, and start thinking about the summer season and camping!  
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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Electric Breaker at Your Campsite Keeps Tripping!

When we hear a camper say, “Your electric breaker is bad, because all I’m running is my water heater and air conditioner and it keeps tripping!” we know we have to share more info with them!

Brace yourselves, because here comes the truth you may not want to hear!  Are you ready?  Just because the RV manufacturer put all of those electric appliances in your RV does not mean you can run it all at the same time!  There, we said it.  Yes, we know, it hurts a little, but it is the truth.  And you need to understand what exactly that means for you, as an RVer.

If your new travel trailer is wired for 30 amps (110 volts), your RV can sit on a 30 amp campsite.  That’s great, you think, because the 50/30 amp sites cost more at the campground!  So, it saves me money!  True story!  It certainly does.  And the RV dealer sales person may have even told you, “This baby has a propane/electric water heater, so you can heat your water on electric and save even more money, by having to purchase less propane.”  However, that is not necessarily true.
Here’s why!  A 30 amp campsite only provides 30 amps of electricity or slightly less, depending upon the safety margin and age and condition of the breaker itself, it could provide slightly less – like 26-27 amps.

So, like the case of the camper above says, “I was only running my water heater and air conditioner.”  That is never true.  More experienced RVers know that you are running your air conditioner (15-17 amps), water heater (12.5 amps), refrigerator (5.7 amps), and electric converter (2-3 amps)!  You were trying to pull almost 35.2 amps on a 30 amp breaker.  (Light bulb comes on!)  The new RV thinks, “Oh wow, now I see the issue! So, I guess I can’t do that?”.  Yes, that’s right.  You have to shut something off.  You can shut the refrigerator over to gas, and that might bring you below the threshold for the breaker to not kick, but that is, until you turn on a light, the TV, or the wife tries to make coffee, dry her hair, or attempts to thaw the chicken in the microwave, in which case, you’re outside resetting the breaker again! 

In addition, if your RV comes with an outside kitchen with a refrigerator, it too is running and eating up another 5.7 amps or so of power.  And so on it goes!  That 12.5 amps the water heater is using is the easiest way to drop that amperage draw back down below a safe area that won’t trip your breaker.  It gives you the room and flexibility to dry your hair, run the microwave, or have lights on.

This has been a recurring theme this summer as more people are buying these travel trailers that are wired for 30 amps – and trying to operate a 42-45 amps of electrical appliances draw off a 30 amp breaker because they are running their propane/electric water heaters on electric.  And apparently, some RV dealers are telling people to do that – as a sales pitch that it’ll save them money.

Okay, so how about if I move to a 50/30 amp campsite.  Can I do that?  Yes, you can do that, if one is available, but that won’t help the situation.  Your RV is only wired to use 30 amps!  You cannot plug into a 50 amp hookup with an adaptor and draw more than your 30 amps, anyway!  The only way to prevent breakers from tripping is to manage you amperage usage.

And of course you're welcome to read what others have written on the topic:

Below, we’ve attached an info sheet that will show you the approximate use of different appliances.  You are free to go through your RV and calculate your own appliances!  The sheet will show you how!  Hopefully, it’ll be of some use to you in calculating your approximate electrical usage, and save you some time and aggravation!  So if you’d like a hard copy to keep, please email us, and we’ll be glad to email you a copy.  We sincerely hope it helps you! 

Before You Blow Your Breaker!
Take a minute and see how many amps you could be using in your RVs 30 or 50 amp electrical system. It is surprising how fast the amps add up which causes your breaker or the RV park's breaker to "trip". Knowing the amps of all the electrical appliances in your RV can help you manage electrical use and prevent the inconvenience of "My electricity went out!". This list is the typical appliance used and the average amps required to operate them:
Air Conditioner
15-17 amps
5.7 amps
Electric Water Heater
12.5 amps
Microwave Oven
12.8 amps
Electric Coffee Pot
9 amps
10 amps
Hair Dryer
10 amps
2 amps
Dirt Devil Hand Vacuum
2 amps
Electrical Power Converter
2-3 amps
Electric Fry Pan
10 amps
10 amps
Food Processor
6 amps
Crock Pot
1.5 amps
Heating Pad
0.5 amps
1,100 Watt Heater
10 amps
In the morning - if you start your air conditioner and the hot water heater is on, then you start your coffee pot, make some toast, watch some TV - you are pulling 50 amps when all appliances are operating at maximum. If you also cook something in the microwave at the same time - LOOK OUT! Most RVs have a switch so you can run only the microwave or the water heater at one time - HOWEVER, NOT ALL RVS HAVE THIS FEATURE.
Most electrical products show how many watts or amps it takes to operate the appliance printed on the product itself or on the instructions. If it shows the watts - divide the watts by 120 (volts) and that gives you the amps. To get the watts - multiply the amps by 120 (volts).
It is worth your time to take an inventory on the "amps" each of your electrical appliances uses, then you can manage your total usage at one time and this greatly reduces the "My electricity went out!" anxiety.
Reprinted with Permission from Frank & Willy Surrell of the New Orleans/Hammond KOA.
We wish you safe and happy kamping where ever 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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Featured Campers from Fulton, NY

We want to introduce you to a camping family that stayed with us in July of this summer.  They are Dennis & Pat MacVittie from Fulton, NY!

They camped with us on their way home from purchasing their Oliver Travel Trailer that was built in Hohenwald, TN.  Their new Oliver travel trailer was the 153rd one built on the line.  One of the first things that caught my eye was that they were pulling it with a diesel powered Jeep!  

Their new Oliver travel trailer wasn’t their first experience at RVing.  They started camping when they retired in 2009 with an “A Liner” trailer.  Dennis retired from the Army.  Pat is a retired middle school Consumer Science Teacher.  Dennis is a marathon runner, so they put over 40,000 miles on it from Nova Scotia to all over Western US attending marathon races. 

They saw Oliver Travel trailers were featured in the April issue of the Trailer Life Magazine.  They were intrigued by the article and decided to go to Tennessee and tour the factory.  They liked what they saw and placed their order while they were there. 

Their travel trailer took eight weeks to build.  They went back to Tennessee to pick it up and did a short “shakedown cruise”.  A shakedown 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! 

They were on their way back home to Fulton, NY when they decided to stop for the night at Meadville KOA!  We’re so glad they did.  Not only did we get to meet a really nice camping couple, but it allowed me an up close and personal glimpse at an Oliver travel trailer.  The Oliver travel trailers are pretty neat looking and compact.  Inside, their streamlined design is sleek and elegant.  The fiberglass exterior’s rounded design is sure to be arrow dynamic.

The seemed happy with their decision thus far, and were sure excited to allow me to see in it and get a glimpse of this new innovative design RV.     

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at one of our camping families this summer, and their new Oliver travel trailer.  We hope you’ll check out Oliver trailers at

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.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Camping With Pets

When you take your dog camping, you are an ambassador for every other pet owner in America.  So, please, please, please, read and follow the pet rules at the campground or RV Park!  And please encourage other pet owners to do the same!  

Due to increased liability and the number of pets camping and RVing, campground and RV park owners are forced to continue to modify and expand pet restrictions.  Many campgrounds are limiting breeds of dogs (due to their aggressive nature and breeding).  Some limit pets in number or by size, and some are now charging extra fees for pets because of the increased risk, materials, and manpower to clean up behind pets.
Worse yet are people who try to pass their pets off as service animals in stores, restaurants, or pet-free cabins and other rentals.  First, and foremost, that is illegal.  Secondly, they are placing others with severe allergies at risk.  And third they are driving up the costs of camping for others 

Here are some standard Pet Policies that should always be followed:
If your pet is over protective, or has aggressive tendencies towards other pets or people, leave them home.  A campground or RV park is no place for an aggressive pet.  Do yourself and your liability carrier a favor, and leave them with a friend or relative or kennel them.  It’s not fair to your unsocialized pet to place them in that situation, nor is it fair to those camping around you and their pets. 
Carry your pet's shot records: This is important, not only for your pet, but for others as well. Some campgrounds require it. Even if they don't require it, it's still a good practice.   
Bring along pet supplies, meds, & first aid supplies! You never know when your pet may get injured or need treated for ticks or fleas. To keep your family & pets safe, you should check them for ticks & fleas each and every time they are outdoors. And, you should treat them regularly to protect them and your family from Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease can be contracted by your pet in your own back yard.  You should practice prevention every time your pet goes out doors!   
Pets should be leashed 100% of the time.  We’ve had pet owners ask us why they can’t use invisible fences when camping.  The answer is simply this, it doesn’t keep other pets out and it doesn’t necessarily keep your pet in.  Other pets can cross that fence with no deterrence, and once your pet crosses that fence, you have lost control of your pet.  Pets are territorial by nature.  They will defend their territory and owners whether they need defended or not.  Without a physical leash or tether, if your pet is involved in a dog fight, you then have no means by which to remove your pet from that fight, protect them from harm, or from harming another family’s pet without placing yourself at risk. 
Barking needs minimized!  Other campers don’t go camping to hear dogs bark.  They go to hear crickets chirping, the birds’ singing, and the babbling brook at the campground.  This is probably a campground owners #1 complaint received.    
As a side note, there are barking collars and other techniques for training pets not to bark.  It’s not being mean to them, it teaches them good doggie manners.  And as a pet owner, you have a responsibility to your pet, other campers, and the campground owners, to teach them good doggie manners while camping! 
Campers should never leave their pet tethered outside at your campsite and unattended! Whether you'll be gone 5 minutes or 5 hours, this is a no-no!  Your neighbors don't want to listen to the barking while your family enjoys the pool or worse yet the local amusement park or county fair for 10 hours!  It isn’t fair to your camping neighbors and it certainly isn’t fair to your pet.  Many campers crate their pet inside the unit, and no one suffers.  So, be kind to your pet and your neighbors, and if you’re going to be absent for long periods of time, kennel your pet for the day. 
Doggie doo-doo needs picked up 100% of the time!  Always pick up your dog's waste.  Dog owners will tell you that they have been in hundreds of campgrounds and seen so many people claim, in public, that they always pick up their dog's waste; only to see them, in private, leave it on the ground and hope no-one noticed.  Look, it is not a pleasant job, but neither is changing your child's diapers and you still do that faithfully. 
Now, let’s move on to what to use to pick up after our four-legged, furry family members.  At Meadville KOA, we hand out a snack for pets with a reminder of our pet rules and they can use the bag we supply the snack in as a doo-do pick up bag.  We use cheap (no name) sandwich baggies.  They hold the snack and provide a good pick-up baggie at a reasonable price.  So, they are much cheaper than specialty doggie bags and they do the trick! 
Here are some great suggestions from our campers who are pet owners:
·         Cheap bags at the Dollar Store. The white ones are too thin and they come 100 to a box. The blue ones come 50 to a box. They are the ones to use. They are cheap enough that you can have a box in the RV, jeep, back pack and the fanny pack. And if I see someone who is walking a dog and in need of a bag I am happy to hand one over!
·         Doggie bags at Meadville KOA!  They sell doggie pick-up bags at the camp store, and the carry case that attaches to the leash!  You will never be without a baggie again if you simply buy the carrier & a package of refill bags!  They are a great value!
·         I've found an even better bag--and it's free! Our home delivered newspapers come in a tough double layer plastic bag. It's just the right size to put over your hand, pick up the waste, turn the bag inside out and tie it in a knot. I save all the newspaper bags and find all kinds of uses for them.
The best way to keep campgrounds pet-friendly is to follow the pet policies at the campground you’re camping at, and by encouraging others to do the same!  We wish you happy camping with your four legged furry friend, and don’t forget to take your doggie bags with you!
By Robyn Chilson
Tim & Robyn Chilson, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.  You can contact Robyn at 814-789-3251.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

169 Million Unused Vacation Days

Recent reports suggest that unused vacation days are at a 40 year high.  The study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, found that American workers earned just under 21 paid-time-off days in 2013 (excluding sick days,) but used only 16.  While some employees can bank or roll over their vacation days into the next year, an average of 1.6 days were completely forfeited, according to their survey.  In total, that is somewhere around 169 million days forfeited, and amounts to a whopping $52.4 billion in lost benefits.

And yet, further studies showed that people who used their vacation days seemed to be more productive when at work, and another independent study showed that they also received better performance reviews!

Well, if you’re a Stephen Covey fan or a graduate of his self-help “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” you already know that people who “sharpen the saw” are better workers than those who don’t!  And you may already know, spending time with the family makes deposits in those emotional bank accounts and fosters family unity.  Both of which are the hallmark of family unity, marital success, and having healthy, happy, and successful children.

So why am I telling you this?  Because visiting your local campground can help you accomplish all those goals.  It can provide your family with time together, give you the time away from work stresses you need, and do it without breaking the bank or stressing for hours on the road! 

Here’s how:

You don’t have to be a camper to go camping!  Today’s campgrounds offer cabins with restrooms, kitchens, air conditioning, heat, and more.  You can go camping without sleeping on the ground, or in a dirty run-down, smelly fishing camp.  They call it Glamping (glamor camping), but what it is all about is introducing non-campers to camping and the outdoors!  And it costs about the same as a hotel, and doesn’t require you owning an RV (recreational vehicle)!

Stay in a more rustic cabin!  You don't have to stay in the most expensive or fancy cabin!  Stay in one with less frills, and you get the same experience for less.  You still get to enjoy all the activities and events.    

You can stay closer to home!  Simply book a cabin for a long weekend, stay Thursday night through Sunday night, and go home Monday.  Use 2 days of vacation and get a 4 day break!  Now that’s a sweet deal!  And you used a whole lot less time to get there (more fun and less time locked in the car with the kids), and less money in gas and less wear and tear on the driver!  It’s much more restful and relaxing!    

Camp during the week or in the off-season.  Many campgrounds offer discounted camping Sunday – Thursday and in the off-season (before Memorial Day Weekend and after Labor Day) because they are less busy, have smaller staffs, and fewer events.  So why not capitalize on that and camp during the off season or during the weekdays when you’ll spend less and have a less crowded pool to enjoy?  That way, you’re spreading your vacation out across several months, and you’re not competing with those other vacationing campers for facilities nor co-workers for peak season time off.   

Choose a campground with amenities and activities for the kids!  The kids are less likely to beg to go to the mall or a movie if there is a ball game, fishing tournament, or other activity at the campground they don’t want to miss.  So, make sure that you involve the kids in the campground selection and that within that selection is wide assortment of activities and amenities for everyone in the family.  The busier the campground keeps the kids, the happier everyone will be!  Generally speaking, campgrounds with a good activity program generally advertise the specifics of the program.  A little research in that department pays big dividends when it comes to both the bottom line and the quality of the get-away for your family!     

Make more trips and stay shorter periods.  Instead of making 1, 7 day vacation trip why not make 2, three – 4 day trips?  You’ll get more “mini vacations” or “stay-cations” as we call them!  That gives you more breaks from work, and you’ll use more vacation days, but aren’t missing a whole week at a time.  It’ll keep you better connected with what’s happening at work, but still allows for that time off we all need.

Enjoy A Campfire Together!  Skip the dinner out and the movies or mall trip. Stay at the cabin or campsite and enjoy a campfire.  Dinner?  Chips, dips, veggies, hotdogs, buns, and the fixin’s.  Kids love roasting a hotdog over an open fire.  And don’t forget desert!  You have to let ‘em roast marshmallows and make a s’more!  Don’t forget the campfire popping corn or peanuts to shell and eat!  You can tell scary stories, strum the guitar and sing campfire songs, study the constellations, or collect fireflies!  There are a host of ideas and fun to be had at a campground this summer.  You save the cost of the dinner & movies, the gas to get you there and back, and the kids are thrilled with a new outdoor experience!  

Why not start planning your mini vacations today?  Don’t let another 25-27% of your vacation go unused this year.  You need to sharpen the saw, the family needs time away, and you need to spend time together!  Start right now while there’s still enough summer left to do it!  But don’t stop at Labor Day Weekend!  Keep right on going and take your kids to fun-filled autumn events too!     

Don’t forget, you can do most of these things at any one of the many Kampgrounds of America Campgrounds!  You don’t have to go a long way to get away and enjoy a low cost but high adventure camping experience!  Use those vacations days and enjoy time with your family, and moreover, make memories that will last a lifetime!    

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

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Why Are Visitor Fees Charged At Private 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.
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.

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.
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

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May is National Lyme Disease Prevention Month

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is a campaign which promotes preventative measures which can be taken against Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is an acute inflammatory disease caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease is spread through the bite of ticks which carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.
In the United States there are two main species of tick which carry and spread Lyme disease. The deer tick or black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the north central and eastern parts of the United States.
The western black legged tick (Ixodes pacifus) spreads Lyme disease on the west (Pacific) coast. Both species of ticks are found in wooded areas. The life cycle of the Ixodes tick is complex.
There are two types of symptoms of Lyme Disease: first and late symptoms. First symptoms are usually flu-like and include fatigue, tiredness, joint and muscle pain, and also a characteristic rash. Late symptoms can take much longer to develop: weeks, months or even years. Late symptoms may include fatigue, mental health issues, the condition arthritis and chronic encephalomyeltits.
Chronic encephalomyeltits is a progressive condition (symptoms become worse or more widespread), and include back pain, bladder problems, vertigo and weakness in the legs. Late Lyme disease can also cause brain, joint, and heart infection.
The Need For This Awareness Month:
In the United States over the last few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of reported cases of Lyme disease. Lyme Disease Awareness Month educates both the young and old about Lyme Disease and how they can take steps to prevent it.
As both types of ticks which carry the Lyme disease virus live in wooded areas, people who visit these areas are encouraged to wear protective clothing around the ankles.
White or light clothing is recommended as it is easier to spot any ticks. Shirts and T-shirts should be tucked into your pants (trousers), and socks pulled up over the bottom of the pants. Using an insect repellent can also help prevent the ticks from getting on to you. Pets should also be checked. Before returning inside it is recommended to do a tick check first.
Tick Removal Lowers The Risk Of Lyme Disease:
Carrying a tick removal kit is advised as they can be used to effectively remove ticks from body reducing the risk of disease transmission. Often the disease is transmitted when a tick is not removed properly.  We carry these in the camp store.
The body breaks away with the head still buried in the skin; this causes the tick to regurgitate its contents into the person’s body.
'Do It Yourself' tick kits should include an insect repellant, a tick removal, an antiseptic and small vial. 
Using the removal tool, remove the tick with the tool, hooking the tick as close to the skin as possible. A gentle twisting action is recommended by the Lyme Disease Foundation to remove the tick, and all the tick’s mouth pieces as thoroughly as possible. By placing the tick in a vial with a blade of grass, the tick can be kept alive for testing.  Take it and seek immediate medical attention.  In tick prone areas, emergency room or urgent care centers may prescribe a 10 day dose of antibiotics as a preventive medicine without testing the tick. 
Remember, ticks can happen anywhere in the US.  You can get a tick from any outdoor activity like hunting, hiking, gardening, mowing, etc.  What you may not know is that you can also get Lyme disease from your pet, Christmas tree, picking strawberries. 
Make sure you know how to protect yourself and your family.  Buy and routinely wear tick repellent.  Practice good hygiene practices and bath or shower thoroughly after being outside, and checking yourself and family members for ticks.        

This article was reprinted from Lyme Disease Foundation Page.  You can get more information at: 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

There Is More To Comparing Seasonal Campsites Than Rates!

There is more to comparing Seasonal Camping at campgrounds than just rates.  To decide where you want to camp Seasonally, you’ll want to compare the type of campground, location, camping rates, ratings, things to do in the surrounding area, events, activities, and amenities the campground provides, and more.  We’ll look at each of these items individually, highlight the differences, and look at why they’re important to consider when choosing the right campground for your family. 

What is Seasonal Camping?  Just about any RV can be used for seasonal camping.  RVs are any recreational vehicle used for camping recreation.  They can be a park model, motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, camper van, truck camper, or ear drop, or tent trailer (popup).Seasonal camping is best described as parking your RV at one campground for the entire summer (or year), versus traveling.  Why would people want to do that? Travelling, while fun, is a lot of work.  You have to pack the RV, tow it to the campground, unhook and set up, camp, tear down, hook up, tow it home, and then unpack it. 

Parking your RV for the summer provides you almost a vacation home-like get away!  You set it up in a park, and then go to camp when your schedules permit.  It saves a lot of time, work, and wear and tear on you the camper, and on your tow vehicle.  You can also drive a more economical fuel vehicle back and forth to camp, thus saving money on fuel.  And of course, Seasonal Campers pay a flat fee for the whole summer.  They get a greatly discounted rate over the weekend rate.  In other words, it allows you to maximize the use of your RV, while minimizing your work load and costs.  Basically, it provides you the equivalent of a summer get-away or vacation home.   

Campgrounds differ greatly in the kinds of campers they serve.  Campgrounds can be primarily travel parks where travelers stop in, stay a day or two, and then continue their travels towards their destination.  They are usually located near a major highway (or intersecting highways).  There are also tourism/recreation destination parks that cater to people in the area for another reason, usually for a large amusement park, or a high tourism or recreation area (near a beach, lake, state or national park, etc.).  Then there are destination campgrounds, where people camp to attend the events, activities, and utilize the amenities that are specific to that particular campground. 

Because campgrounds serve different types of campers, as you might expect, they also vary in what they have to offer in the areas of facilities, activities, events, and amenities.  Some are family campgrounds, some cater more to partying, and some are adult only (retirement age) parks.  These are not hard and fast rules, either, of course. 

Our KOA is primarily a destination family campground, but we receive travelers too, and we have lots of couples without children who camp with us.  At KOA, they are branded as Holiday Parks. 
Many times, our campers attend local fairs, concerts, amusement parks, and more.  So while a campground may consider themselves primarily in one of these categories, they certainly can fall into all of these categories.

Seasonal Camping Programs Vary.  Some campgrounds sell the site, and campers become part owners in the park and then they pay a maintenance fee (much like a HOV fee), for their seasonal services.  There are good points and bad points to owning a campsite.  Many times, it is very involved, and when you are ready to leave, you then have to sell your lot and RV which can take a lot of time.  Often they are run by an owners association, which may or may not have people on the board who know anything about running a camping facility.  By the time you purchase, pay for insurances and yearly fees, you could have camped seasonally for many years without all the additional liability, costs, and other issues.  And, of course, you can stop seasonal camping with the freedom to leave at the drop of a hat.   

Location, Location, Location!  When choosing a campground for Seasonal Camping, you want one with a close enough commute that you can maximize the use of your RV, but minimize your travel and time commitment.  That said, it is well worth your money and time to travel a little further to get you to that higher rated campground, that serves your camping needs better than to camp at a not as nice park.  Some parks have very small sites, and campers are too close to have a relaxing stay without feeling intruded upon.  Some don’t provide utilities and conveniences you’d want – like TV or Wi-Fi.  Some have activities for children and adults, and some do not.  So while location and close is important, meeting all your camping needs is the primary requirement!    

Are There Additional Charges for Facilities, Amenities, Activities, and Events?  Many campgrounds offer children’s crafts, events, activities, or rental amenities.  These items often have additional costs associated with them.  So the campground that charges less per season for the campsite, may sound like a better deal than a campground charging more for the campsite, until you look at all of the ancillary charges.  Some campgrounds charge for 2 adults and extra for each child, some (like us) it’s a family of 4, some limit your camping to just weekends, and some (like us) have unlimited camping.  Some charge extra fees for activities, Wi-Fi, Cable TV, or onsite winter storage, and some (like us) include everything in the seasonal campsite.  In fact, we even mow your campsite for our Seasonal Campers at no additional fee.  To the best of our knowledge, we’re the only campground in Western PA who provides that premium service without a premium price tag.  You have to ask a lot of questions when pricing Seasonal Campsites, and not just how much the site is.  

Questions You May Want To Ask:  How many people are included in the seasonal camping fee? How much is it to add additional people?  What are the charges for those?  What are their visitor’s fees?  Do they offer 50 amp electrical service?  Are their sites spacious?  What recreation do they offer?  Is there a charge for the recreation?  What activities do they offer?  IS there are charge for those?  What rental amenities do they have to keep the kids busy?  Is there a charge for those?  Do they offer Wi-Fi?  Is there a fee for it?  Do they offer cable TV?  Is there a fee for it?  Do they offer meals?  What do they cost?  Do they allow golf carts?  What are the rules?  When is quiet hours?  Are they enforced?  Do they offer onsite winter storage?  What’s the charge for that?  How does their payment plan work?  Do they charge interest?  So make sure you add all of those individual charges that aren’t included, to look at them versus a campground where they are included, to see which one is really the most affordable.  You need to know the real bottom line total before signing on the dotted line!          

Check campground ratings before you become a Seasonal Camper.  If they aren’t rated well by their overnight guests and campground directories, chances are, you aren’t going to have the family experience you seek.  Make sure that the place you choose to spend your summer serves their campers well.  When you look at campground ratings, you’ll know where you’ll want to be, and where you won’t want to be.  Just don’t underestimate their importance!
Try camping at the campground of your choice before becoming a seasonal camper.  Camping at the facility, walking the grounds, and meeting the other seasonal campers will tell you the most about the facility.  Are the other campers friendly?  Is the campground neat and well maintained?  Are the other seasonal camper’s campsites clean and well maintained?  Are quiet hour policies really enforced?  Are people drinking and driving golf carts all over?  You may not think about some of the things you’ll learn both about the campground, and the campground owners.            

As you can see, there are probably more variables involved than you originally thought.  Choosing the right campground to camp for the season is important.  Don’t short change your seasonal camping experience by picking a campground without fully investigating what it has to offer and what it’s really going to cost you to camp there.  The old saying of “the devil is in the details,” says it all.  So make sure you ask the right questions and know exactly what your camping will really cost you, before you sign a seasonal camping agreement! 

You can check out our Seasonal Camping Sites that are available for 2016 at

As always, we hope that you come see us at Meadville KOA Campground and allow us to show you what we can provide your family!    

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