The largest attendance in its history and the biggest expo on record are two of the goals for the annual Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Inc. convention scheduled for Nov. 15-18 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

The convention takes on added significance this time around as it formally marks the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the theme of which is “Celebrate 50 Years of Fun.”

“We expect our largest convention yet,” said Jenny McCullough, director of training and events. “We’re expecting about 600 attendees this year. So far, we’re on track for a great convention. We have more people signed up now than we ever had at this point.”

Along with a multitude of industry-leading learning opportunities and fun, the convention will feature the KOA Expo, including more than 130 vendors offering special products to attending KOA owners and managers, as well as the annual KOA Care Camps Charity Auction to benefit these special summer camps for children with cancer.

A good attendance would be consistent with KOA pronouncements that the camping business has been strong this season across much of the U.S. and Canada.

KOA Holdings owner Oscar Tang (left) and Jim Rogers, KOA CEO.

Among the speakers addressing the convention are futurist Jim Carroll, an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity who will speak on Friday, Nov. 16.

Jim Carroll, convention keynote speaker

Saturday’s speakers include Jim Rogers, KOA CEO, who will give his annual “Fireside Chat,” and, in an unusual twist, Oscar Tang, owner of KOA Holdings, corporate parent of KOA. Tang last addressed the KOA franchisees at KOA’s 40th anniversary convention in 2002.

Following their speeches, the two-day Expo opens up to franchisees.

KOA headquarters’ staff will handle most of the seminars at the convention, about 15 of which will be conducted on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor will announce the winner of the Keystone RV contest held during the year across the U.S. and Canada. It was one of several contests KOA conducted this year in conjunction with the anniversary celebration.

KOA will present a number of franchise awards during the convention, the most coveted being the Franchisee of the Year award that will be announced during a Friday luncheon.

KOA is anticipating a side benefit from being in Orlando immediately following the conclusion of the International Amusement Park Association (IAPA) convention in the Orange County Convention Center about 10 miles from the Gaylord Palms. In fact, McCullough expected some vendors to go directly from IAPA to the KOA convention.

This year’s convention will feature many of the traditional vendors, including Speed Queen, Chadwick Manufacturing Inc. and Midwest Electric, each of whom has exhibited at every KOA Expo since the beginning.

Some new exhibitors include Spirit Cultural Exchange, The K9000 Dog Wash Company, AAA – The Auto Club Group, Tie-Not Inc., Blubandoo Cooling Headwear & Accessories and Atlantic Service & Supply.

The deadline for vendors to register for the convention is Sept. 30. To be guaranteed a mention in the convention program, the deadline to register is Sept. 24. Vendors interested in attending the Expo may call (800) 548-7104 and ask for Kelly Morse.

KOA will post on YouTube a daily review of the previous day’s events and a preview of the upcoming day’s events. These videos also will be posted on the Woodall’s website at www.woodallscm.com.

Tentative Schedule for KOA’s 50th Anniversary Convention in Florida

Thursday, Nov. 15

8 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Convention Registration

7 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Owners Association Board Meeting

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Kamp Green Community Partnership Event

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: First Timers Orientation

7 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Welcome Celebration at Universal Orlando

Friday, Nov. 16

7 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Convention Registration

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Owners Association Auction Drop-off

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kids Kamp

8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.: Welcome: Jim Carroll Keynote Address

9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Town Hall Meeting

10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Workshops

12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Partners, Rising Star and Franchisee of the Year Awards Lunch

1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Workshops

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Owners Association Area Meetings

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Owners Association Care Camp Board Meeting

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Owners Association Disaster Relief Board Meeting


Saturday, Nov. 17

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Kids Kamp

9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Owners Association Auction Drop-off

8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Presidents and Founders Awards

9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Workshops

11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Workshops

12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Special Lunch Presentation

2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.: Workshops

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Chairman’s Fireside Chat

4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.: Owners Association Annual Meeting

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: KOA Expo Opening Celebration

Sunday, Nov. 18

(No Kids Kamp today)

7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast With Exhibitors

9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Company Owned Properties Meeting

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Lunch with Exhibitors

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Owners Association New/Old Board meeting

6 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Final Night Celebration and Owners Association Care Camps Auction