Editor’s Note: Following are some highlights from the first 50 years of operation of what has become known as Kampgrounds of America Inc.
1962: Dave Drum and three partners develop and open The Billings Campground
1963: John Wallace’s camper survey reveals nationwide demand for RV camps
1963: Drum, Wallace and Bob Boorman develop Kampgrounds of America concept
1963: KOA logo, patent registration, franchise agreement and A-frame are initiated
1964: First KOA franchise sold by Dale McCart and opens in Cody, Wyo.
1964: Don Hammond’s franchise sales force fans out over western U.S.
1964: First KOA franchise convention held in Billings
1965: Owners association formed and led by Miles City KOA’s Russ Porten
1965: KOA begins to sell franchises east of the Mississippi River
1966: Drum hires Darrell Booth as general manager of KOA system
1966: First KOA national convention held in Denver
1967: KOA’s first full-color Kampground Directory is distributed
1969: KOA stock is traded on NASDAQ; stock offering is successful
1970: KOA directs stock sale proceeds to company expansion
1970: First KOA opens in Canada; three other Canadian parks open that year.
1970: KOA subsidiary breaks ground for new Amerigo RV manufacturing plant in Bristol, Ind.
1971: 156 new KOAs are opened this year, bringing total system to 500 campgrounds. In addition, 76 others were under construction at year-end and KOA franchises are granted in 300 other locations
1972: Company starts “KOA University” to train KOA campground owners
1972: KOA’s first Campground in Mexico opens in Tepic
1972: 194 KOAs attend 10-year anniversary convention in New Orleans
1972: KOA introduces first cabins
1974: Energy crisis forces KOA to suspend cabin business and liquidate RV manufacturing operations
1975: Dave Drum sells his KOA shares
1977: KOA buys Sir Speedy printing service out of bankruptcy
1979: Art Peterson named president, succeeding Darrell Booth, who is battling cancer
1980: Peterson begins to champion cabin concept
1992: KOA signs master licensing agreement for KOAs in Japan
1996: KOA debuts first “family adventure camp” near Butte, Mont.
1996: KOA resumes KOA franchising in Mexico
1998: KOA opens RV & Boat Storage business
2000: Jim Rogers returns to KOA as CEO
2000: KOA launches KampSight, a computerized campground operating system
2004: KOA launches first Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend
2007: ARVC and KOA hold joint convention in Phoenix
2008: KOA takes part in RV industry trade mission to China
2008: KOA and Big4 Holiday Parks of Australia sign master licensing agreement
2008: KOA launches Value Kard Rewards Program
2008: KampSight becomes standard equipment at all KOAs
2008: Thor Industries joins KOA in joint marketing agreement
2009: KOA named one of top 50 franchises in the U.S. by Franchise Business Review
2009: KOA names its first Workampers of the Year
2010: KOA becomes a sponsor of the 2010 U.S. Olympic bobsled and skeleton teams
2010: Pat Hittmeier named president of KOA
2010: KOA launches online camper feedback survey
2011: Harris Poll finds that 25 percentof Americans have stayed at a KOA
2011: KOA kicks off yearlong golden anniversary celebration at convention; Richard Cutler named first recipient of Darrell Booth Lifetime Achievement Award
2012: KOA celebrates its 50th anniversary