Attendees to OCOA’s conference enjoyed a hayride as part of the activities they took part in.

The Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) held its annual Fall Conference and Campground Tour from Oct. 26-27 based out of the Cherry Valley Hotel in Newark, Ohio.

Approximately 86 attendees representing 34 campgrounds were in attendance. The event was sponsored by Henley Graphic Communications and Seppmann Enterprises. Lunch was provided by Berkshire Lake Campground.

The event kicked off with several speakers sharing facts and information related to camping and travel.

Melinda Huntley, executive director of the Ohio Travel Association, led a group discussion on “Creating Memorable Outdoor Experiences.” The group discussed traveler expectations and ways to make every visit to a campground memorable. Attendees participated in hands-on exercises to help come up with ideas campgrounds could implement right away.

Lisa Courtney, director of sales and support for Leisure Systems Inc., the franchisor of more than 70 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts in North America, discussed “Staffing Success.” She explored various tactics to gain and retain staff in this challenging environment.

Matthew MacClaren, director of TourismOhio, discussed the “Ohio. Find It Here” brand and the “challenges and opportunities in the post-pandemic world.” He touched on the return of leisure travel and trends in consumer behavior that have developed since the pandemic. He also discussed how TourismOhio is marketing to take advantage of the new trends and how Ohio’s private campgrounds can participate.

OCOA President Jeff Hoffman, from the Sandusky/Bayshore KOA, presided over the OCOA General Membership Meeting. The financial report was given, and the 2021-2022 operating budget was approved. OCOA board members gave their reports and took questions and OCOA lobbyist Amanda Sines gave a legislative update. There was quite a bit of excitement surrounding OCOA’s legislation — House Bill 229 — which would protect Ohio campgrounds from frivolous lawsuits. The bill specifically would ensure campground operators are immune from liability if an injury or harm occurs from “risk inherent to camping.” Those risks are specified in the legislation to include such things as features of natural works, uneven terrain, campfires and more. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and will now be considered by the Senate.

The Board of Trustees Election results were reviewed and the following began their newly elected/re-elected roles on the board on May 1, 2021: Nick Kaufmann, Jellystone Park at Dogwood Valley (vice president of government relations);  Erika Sheets, Lazy River at Granville (vice president of public relations); Mistina Koppes, Maple Lakes Campground (secretary); Heidi Lockwood, Crystal Rock Campground (NW trustee); Sally Durnwald, Tall Timbers Campground (NW trustee); Charles Knight, Camp Sandusky (NW alternate); Corey Smeltzer, Sauder Village Campground (NW alternate); Jim McGeorge, Big Arb’s Campground (NE trustee); Barb McClintock, Wally Word Riverside Resort (NE trustee); Jamie Herron, Wood’s Tall Timber Resort (NE alternate); Stephanie Wycoff, Cross Creek Camping Resort (central trustee); Sarah Anglin, Lebanon Cincinnati KOA (SW trustee); and Darren Rambo, Tomorrow’s Stars RV Resort (SW alternate).

David Clounie, Akron/Canton Jellystone, who was elected as NE district trustee has since resigned and was replaced by Alex Burkett, also from the Akron/Canton Jellystone.

Attendees also held a lively informal group discussion where various topics were discussed including dog parks; pool, waterpark and game-room investment; camper committees; RV sharing; health insurance; Wi-Fi in rural areas; guest reviews; RV shows and electrical box maintenance.

During the second day of the conference, attendees boarded buses and set off on a Campground Tour of the following campgrounds of Central Ohio: Rustic Knolls Campsites and Cabins, Mt. Vernon; Mt. Gilead KOA, Mt Gilead; Berkshire Lake Campground, Galena; and Lazy River at Granville, Granville. The host campgrounds provided snacks, drinks, lunch and dessert along the way, and allowed attendees to walk their beautiful grounds to view amenities and facilities.

Attendees received a behind-the-scenes tour of each campground as host parks opened their campstores, cabins, reception halls, showers/restrooms and more.

Kristy Smith, executive director of the OCOA, wanted to thank the host campgrounds for hosting the conference and gave a special thanks to Erika Sheets, of Lazy River at Granville, for planning the event.