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KOA art book would make great gift for camping enthusiast

By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

KOA and the Art of Kamping, by John Brunkowski and Michael Closen, would make a great gift for any camping enthusiast, especially those who enjoy history.

The book features 106 full-color pages depicting the art of camping over the 50 years KOA has been operating campgrounds. The forward by Jim Rogers, KOA chairman, lays the foundation for the 50th anniversary commemorative book.

“Just as so many 50th wedding anniversaries are recorded, it seemed most appropriate that KOA’s most memorable moments, people, innovations trends and good times be captured in a photo album as well,” Rogers wrote. “This one-of-a-kind comprehensive book on KOA’s history, art and personality is just that type of collection.”

After reading through the book, I’d have to agree.

It begins with a year-by-year timeline of KOA’s hkistory from 1960 to 2012 showing the firm’s trnasition from paper directories and printed posters to digital media and an interactive website.

A variety of artwork is depicted in the book including bronze castings of families and Old West themes, watercolor paintings, wood carvings and even exquisite painted turkey features. The detail and resolution of the images is spectacular.

There is a section showing KOA camping directory covers from the very first one in 1964 that was printed simply as a black-and-white typeset brochure. The second concludes with the high definition digital images included in the 2011-2012 directory.

History buffs will enjoy the description of all the camping memorabilia connected to KOA over the years. There’s a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle describing travel around the country circa 1960s, as well as collectable patches of every size and color plus belt buckles and 1970s style felt pennants. Who knew there were even toy cars and yellow KOA utility vehicles that kids could buy? Or what about the KOAopoly board game? Both are depicted in the book along with a bright yellow wood and metal child’s rocking horse.

My favorite section included a whimsical review of printed postcards used by KOA campgrounds around the country to help visitors tell friends about their vacations. I remember receiving some of those postcards when I was younger when friends would stay at campground — even though they would generally arrive long after the family returned home.

The book explores the evolution of campground brochures as well as KOA staff handbooks and even the evolution of corproate advertising. It was fun to see how marketing camping experiences has changed over five decades. The ability to add color images certainly helped improve the image camping in general.

RV fans will enjoy the entire section dvoted to Airstream travel trailers and how they have been incorporated into various publications and art forms over the years. Many of the specialty art pieces depicted in the book have since become awards used by KOA to recognize top-performing campgrounds and industry partners.

Throughout it all, the book visually depticts the fun and joy of camping and family vacations. It’s clear to see that the company has worked hard to “own the K” in Kamping to make KOA stays unique and memorable. Even those people who have never stayed at a KOA will enjoy the trip back in time to witness how camping as a form of recreation has evolved.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com for $23.85 and can be viewed by clicking here.

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report.

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