Visiting KOA last month since our last time five years ago felt like returning home. On a Friday afternoon, my family and I wound our way south down Interstate 5 from our home in northern California through the green rolling hills — the gateway of KOA Ventura Ranch — a beautiful, welcoming sight!
Some of you may recall, the RV experiences we had back in 2012 changed our minds about how and who could RV. Growing up, I recall how much my aunt Sherry and uncle Herman loved to take their bus-sized vehicle on the road, careful to stop at places with options to camp and go fishing. My other Aunt Dee Dee and uncle Al loved to pile the youth of the church into her cabover RV and stage “staycations” at local parks and playgrounds where we would play until exhaustion, return to the RV for food and refreshments, then head right back out again.
Today’s RV experience looks both the same, and different — and I am fortunate to have the chance now as the mother of three older children to explore more RV options than ever before that make it easy for anyone to enjoy the outdoors and create lasting family memories.
For the uninitiated, KOA’s are private parks that remain a nationwide answer for camping accommodations for all types of campers. You can bring a tent to pitch, bring your own RV, or stay in a ‘park model’ as we did again at Ventura Ranch. Park models look remarkably like a sturdy cabin, with all the amenities you could ever want to experience the camping lifestyle. A real bed; electricity, temperature control, bathroom, and full kitchen for making your own meals are a great sell to folks who swear they would never camp. In case you were wondering, park models actually get to be classified as RVs because they have wheels underneath that make them wholly portable!
But I have to admit that some of the most fun of RVing is connecting with other families. RV parks always feel like a pop-up community where people look out for one another and are quick to say “hello!” We met some amazing people upon arriving Friday evening over a delicious welcoming meal. I found we all had in common a shared a passion for the outdoors and family, and ended our evening enjoying time around the fire talking and making s’mores.
After a wonderful night of rest in a comfy bed, it was a delight to wake up to the comical sound of the resident male peacocks in full breeding plumage, strutting and squawking to impress!
After breakfast, my teens participated in rocket building and T-shirt tie-dyeing then looked forward to the afternoon activities that included a re-do of the jumping pillow, climbing wall, and zip line from when they were younger. I enjoyed discovering the many improvements and additions to the property that now includes a beautiful, resort-style swimming area perfect for those hot summer months. In the evening, we campers enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner by that pool, followed by night hiking in search of the legendary ‘Big Foot’ led by KOA staff under the glow of our flashlights and the stars.
One of the biggest highlights of my trip was rest! As an active working mom, who spends a fair amount of time on the road, there are too few moments to retreat from packed daily schedules and routines, and quite frankly, sometimes ‘roughing it’ camping with kids can feel like more work than fun. So KOA is a great place where you can find a good balance between pre-planned activities led by staff, and relaxation you can do at your own pace!
As we prepared to leave Sunday morning (with more jaunty peacocks serenading our cabin), we were grateful to the Go RVing and KOA team who threw down on a delicious hot breakfast of biblical piles of bacon and waffles and shared hugs goodbye with new friends.
Until we will meet again KOA!
Thanks to Ventura Ranch KOA, and Go RVing for hosting another delightful and memorable weekend my family will treasure always!
To learn more about KOA’s around the country visit their website! To plan an adventure of your own, visit Go RVing for info on how to get started, how to choose the RV that’s right for you, where to go and so much more!
Photos by Jeff Crider & Rue Mapp