The last two summers have been “difficult”, but the KOA Gravenhurst campground is marking a major milestone: 50 years in operation.
The campground has stayed in the family since it opened. President Paul Cook explained that “the campground was built by my in-laws, Frank and Ann McLaughlin. Frank was selling KOA franchises and decided to build his own. We bought the business at the end of 1990 when they wanted to retire.”
The campground sits on 68 acres and has approximately 150 sites and 10 cabins, however not all are in use currently due to Covid-19 limitations. There are two playgrounds, a par 3 golf course and two pools (which are not open at the moment).
“The past two summers have been difficult, we decided last year not to open for tenting and we did not open our cabins or the washroom/shower building,” said Cook. However, “this summer we have opened limited toilets and showers to try to maintain spacing.”
While they have been able to re-open more amenities this year, staffing shortages persist. “We have recently opened our cabins, but we have not got the pools open yet,” said Cook. “This is partly a staffing issue. We have had a hard time finding summer staff and last summer and this summer we are employing about half of the usual number.”
Despite present concerns, he said there have been happy memories created at the campground over the last five decades. “We have had campers married in the barn, as well as hosting several wedding receptions, motorcycle rallies as well as many family reunions. We had four generations of one family that camped with us until the great-grandparents sold their trailer,” Cook said.
Also memorable was a storm that blew through in 1995, said Cook. “The only site that was not occupied had a massive pine tree go right down the middle of it. We were without power for 4 days.”
In a typical year the campground has something to offer all four seasons. Cross country skiing trails are a major draw in the winter and their stocked trout pond is always popular in the summer months, the campground even boasts its own small golf course.
Cook said that due to Covid-19 “we have not planned any celebrations,” and hope a normal season is on the horizon.
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