The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) held its 60th Annual Convention and Trade Show from December 3-6 at the Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor. With the theme “Diamonds are Forever,” this year’s event focuses on the lasting value and innovation in outdoor hospitality.
The agenda kicked off on Sunday, December 3 with ServSafe food safety training, a PCOA board meeting, and an opening reception. Monday featured pesticide training and licensing exams, a first-timer session, a young professionals meeting, as well as an evening dinner and auction, where $14,380 was raised for the PCOA Educational Foundation
Over 15 educational workshops were offered Tuesday and Wednesday, covering crucial topics like digital marketing, social media, cybersecurity, guest experience, campground operations, and more. The workshops aimed to provide actionable insights to help campground owners tackle current challenges and opportunities.
Other highlights include an HR crackerbarrel at Tuesday’s lunch led by speaker Kelly Jones. Wednesday morning featured breakfast with regional meetings. The agenda shows a mix of education, business meetings, networking, and social events throughout the 4-day convention, catering specifically to campground owners and operators.
The bustling trade show allowed vendors and service providers to showcase new products and services tailored specifically to campground owners and managers. There were also special presentations from Anderson’s Brochure Distribution and Good Sam.
The annual membership meeting held Tuesday recognized contributions of several dedicated PCOA members and features discussions about membership growth, directory ad sales, and new employment resources on the PCOA website.
Christine Taylor from the Towne Law Firm was recognized for attending and singing the Star Spangled Banner. PCOA also recognized Don Bennet for his years of dedication to the industry and to the association. Yesterday, PCOA also honored Stephanie Vargas as she steps away from the board after years of service and dedication to the association, Dave Mull for his years of service on the board and the York RV Show, and Valerie Medina Stahl as she steps off the board.
The last recognition went to Eileen Vaughan for her years of service to the industry and time spent on the ARVC board and more.
A major announcement at the annual meeting was the PCOA Board’s decision to disassociate from the national association, OHI (formerly ARVC), at the end of 2024. This move signals a refocusing of efforts specifically on supporting and advocating for Pennsylvania campground owners, rather than continued participation in a national-level association.
This strategic decision complements PCOA’s unveiling of new vision and mission statements that emphasize educating, uniting, advocating for, and supporting PA campground owners and the local camping industry. The statements reflect a hyper-focus on meeting the needs of Pennsylvania campground operators.
An energetic after-party with live music, cornhole, giveaways, and camaraderie on Tuesday night reinforced the spirit of community that is at the core of the PCOA organization. Attendees enjoyed connecting with fellow outdoor hospitality professionals in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
With its sharpened strategic direction, expanded educational offerings, and passionate advocacy, PCOA aims to shape the future of camping in Pennsylvania. As the outdoor hospitality industry evolves in the coming years, campground owners can look to the PCOA as a trusted, in-state resource for insight, tools, and community support.
This year’s convention sets an optimistic tone for innovation and growth in 2023, 2024, and beyond. The educational sessions equip owners to adapt their businesses, while PCOA’s community and advocacy efforts will help ensure the viability of the PA campground industry going forward.
For campground managers, owners, and industry professionals, staying actively engaged with the PCOA will be key to evolving successfully amid industry changes. With major shifts like the OHI disassociation, the PCOA is signaling a laser focus on Pennsylvania-specific needs.
The array of networking events, from meet-and-greets to parties, allows owners to connect personally with fellow operators and vendors. These relationships help build the campground community that will pay dividends for business and the industry as a whole.
The trade show serves as a prime opportunity to learn about emerging technologies, products, and services to enhance campgrounds. Operators can discover trending amenities and activities to satisfy and excite today’s camping guests and families.
As the demand for camping and outdoor hospitality grows nationwide, a tailored approach is necessary to address unique needs within Pennsylvania. With its local community and a finger on the pulse of trends, PCOA looks to be that driving force going forward.