Source: Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce
In a huge milestone, KOA Campgrounds Gravenhurst turned 50 years old this year. The first KOA Campground franchise to turn 50 in Canada, owner Paul Cook is thrilled about this anniversary and what it means for his business.
KOA Campgrounds is the largest system of franchised campgrounds, with over 500 that span all over the United States and Canada. The company has been around since 1962, with the first ever KOA Campground located in Montana. In the beginning, camping at a KOA campground didn’t look like it does today. It involved tents not motorhomes and trailers. Just 9 years after KOA’s inception, a campground was opened byFrank and Ann McLauglin in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Paul, who grew up in Gravenhurst, said he started working at the campground in 1980, and met Mary, who’s parents owned the KOA. Just ten years later, in 1990, after getting married, Mary and Paul took over the business and started running it themselves.
Running KOA has been a way for Paul and Mary to stay connected to the community in Muskoka, and has been impactful for them in a number of ways. Something that Paul highlights is how KOA has become a family tradition for many. Being a part of a family’s favourite part of their summer is an honor, and he mentions specifically a family who has been coming seasonally for four generations to KOA Gravenhurst. This kind of loyalty to one spot is what has given the campground its longevity.
KOA Gravenhurst offers a number of wonderful recreational activities on site that are really popular with campers. A few of them include fishing, boating, golfing, mountain biking, and cross country skiing in the winter. Additionally, being close to the bustling town of Gravenhurst, there are so many things to do in the area, such as Santa’s Village or riding on the Segwun Steamship!
Since the Gravenhurst KOA opened in the 70s, Paul says the biggest change is the size of trailers and motorhomes people camp in, and in what amenities people are looking for. He says people are even looking for WIFI at campsites now!
The team at KOA Gravenhurst are up for the challenge of accommodating larger trailers, as they plan to expand many of their campsites by merging two spots into one bigger site.
They also plan to open for Cross country skiing this year once the snow stays. While people are looking for more amenities, Paul says something that has never changed is that people want to be able to get outside and hike the trails, and be in Muskoka’s wilderness.
It’s what has kept campers coming back for more, season after season here in Gravenhurst.
Happy Anniversary KOA Gravenhurst