The 2019 Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) Spring Conference and Trade Show held in early March at the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport in Columbus, Ohio, broke attendance records with more than 110 campground owners, representing over 50 campgrounds in attendance, according to Kristy Smith, OCOA’s executive director. 

“We had several conference sponsors and because of their generosity, we were able to keep attendance costs low while providing quality speakers and sessions,” she noted. “A huge thanks to our sponsors, which included the following: Gold Sponsors – Henley Graphic Communications and TengoInternet; Silver Sponsors – Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance, Skyline Champion, and Athens Park Model RVs; and Bronze Sponsors – Jamestown Advanced Products and Staylist. We also thank our casino night sponsors – Wilcor, Strait Web Solutions, Rinehart Insurance, and Staylist.”

The event kicked off with a pre-conference Wastewater Training Course led by Sterling Wastewater. The day-long course offered 8 hours of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved contact hours for continuing education of wastewater systems.

Attendees heard from keynote speaker Matthew MacLaren, director of TourismOhio. MacLaren discussed opportunities for campgrounds to participate in the “Ohio. Find It Here.” brand initiative to grow revenue at their parks. He also shared an update on the Spring/Summer 2019 marketing plan that will focus on encouraging more overnight visits to Ohio.

During “Coffee and Conversation,” which split attendees into groups that encouraged small group discussions on industry hot topics, attendees shared thoughts and ideas and learned from their fellow campground owners during the roundtable discussions on relevant industry topics.

A National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) update fwas hosted by Paul Bambei, president and CEO of ARVC, who provided information on all the latest ARVC projects. 

During the conference the OCOA General Membership Meeting was held and financial reports were given and the 2019-2020 operating budget was approved. OCOA E-board members gave their reports and took questions. OCOA lobbyist Amanda Sines also gave a legislative update.

The Board of Trustees elections were held and the following were elected:

— Vice President of Government Affairs – Charles Knight, Camp Sandusky

— Vice President of Public Relations – Greg Emmert, Homerville Kampgrounds of America (KOA)

— Secretary – Erika Sheets, Lazy River at Granville

— Northwest Trustees: Elaine Harris, Twin Lakes Park and Sally Durnwald, Tall Timbers Campground; Alternates: Jeff Hoffman, Sandusky KOA and Bob Provonsha, Family Camping Center/Chet’s Place

— Northeast Trustee: Ray Pierce, Pier Lon Park and Jim McGeorge, Big Arbs; Alternates: David Clounie, Akron/Canton Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort and Barb McClintock, Wally World

— Central Trustee: Nick Kaufman, Dogwood Valley Jellystone Park and Alternate: Sandy Casey, Lancaster Campground

— Southwest Trustee: David Stevens, Enon Beach and Alternate: Sarah Anglin, Lebanon Cincinnati KOA.

The conference also included multiple eduational sessions that highlighted topics including Bed Bugs, marketing, recreational programming and more. 

During the conference’s trade show more than 42 vendors displayed their wares. 

On the conference’s final night a Casino Night and Auction was held were more than $9,000 was raised for OCOA. 

The conference closed with a “Farewell Fiesta” where attendees had lunch and threw out burning questions and hot topics for discussion with the group.