The 11 Types of People You Meet at a KOA Kampground

Ahhh the KOA. America's only brand name in outdoor sleeping that still likes to spell “camping” with a K. Part national park, part trailer park, they're the residential/recreational hybrid that attract some of the more colorful characters our country has to offer.

And while you may have some vague recollections of what these bastions of Americana were from when you were a kid, perhaps it is time for a little refresher. If you're headed to one of the over 480 Kampgrounds of America, here are 11 people you’re likely to meet. And might just want to avoid.

Homesteading retired couples

Nostalgic baby boomers


The 40-year-old Eagle Scout

Sad single dads

This poor guy is overly proud of himself for "at least being a good dad," like he’s gonna somehow win the best parent award by taking miserable kids on a camping trip. Who just end up on their phones the whole time anyway. His two week court-sanctioned summer trip is a flailing attempt to out-do mom’s new husband, and most likely ends up with them leaving by Saturday afternoon and spending the rest of the vacation at Six Flags.

Leather-skinned Parrotheads

In warmer weather KOAs, these are the people selling seashells or crappy T-shirts, running dive boats, or pretty much doing anything to ensure their skin stays the color of a football. The men have long scraggly gray hair, and the ladies wear bikinis despite their breasts hanging down to their belly button. They think they’re a lot younger than they are, always drinking some shitty punch like it’s still a frat party. And are absolutely swingers.

Weirdly too-close families

National Lampoon's Vacation, if you replaced the Griswolds with the McCoyles. They’ve packed six people into a 400sqft RV, and are perfectly happy spending three weeks within arm’s reach of each other at all times. The middle kid sleeps on the dining room table and nobody’s upset about it, the showering arrangements are never really explained, and you don’t know a soul in the camp who’s ever been inside.


Easily spotted by the dudes with meticulous beards and warm-weather skull caps, and girls with famers market headbands. They wanted some kind of “ironic” Americana experience, because fuck gentrification or whatever. And will undoubtedly Instagram a picture of the bonfire with some obscure quote from Woodie Guthrie.

Koa Kampground
Koa Kampground

Bikers, but not the scary kind

Super "frugal," early retirement couples  

They’re probably not even 50, but think they’ve somehow beaten the system because they were able to retire young... to an RV. They’re typically dressed in head to toe LL Bean, purchased at Goodwill because only suckers pay full price at Outdoor World. They’ll regale you with stories about how they worked jobs, but did shit like steal ketchup packets so they could “live the lifestyle.” Never really explaining what that “lifestyle” is, but it somehow involves condiment theft. They drive a motor home that gets six miles to the gallon, are ALWAYS childless, and listen to weird Caribbean/World music. And will not hesitate to tell you they’re cultured because they saw Moab in an RV and made it all the way to Scottsdale.

A few murderers on the run

Because one of these people is DEFINITELY that. And it's probably Steve.

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer with Thrillist. Follow his summer kamping adventures on Instagram @meltrez1.