Happy campers in Pennsylvania
Camping is to summer like apple is to pie. They fit perfectly together, and more folks are starting to realize it — especially over the past two summers.
“While hotels have experienced a drop in attendance, we’ve experienced unbelievable growth,” said Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association, Jason Vaughan, who represents a community of 235 privately-owned campgrounds across the state.
“In many ways, it’s more affordable, campers can bring and use their own personal equipment, and they get to enjoy an open space with limitless outdoor recreation nearby, such as fishing, hiking, golfing, zoos, etc. Especially since the pandemic, we are very much a growing industry.”
Interest in camping has proven strong with Generation Z, especially where WiFi options are available so people can continue to work remotely while connecting with the outdoors. In fact, 4.7 million people nationwide went “glamping” last year, renting out everything from yurts and treehouses to covered wagons for a high-end camping experience.
However, traditional tent camping and RV overnighting remain high on the list for vacationers, many of whom have seldom camped before or will be trying camping for the very first time in their lives. Fortunately, the camping community is helpful in general.
“Our campground owners have become somewhat like hotel concierges, offering advice on how to camp, where to camp, and where to visit,” Vaughan explained. “They’ve been teaching people how to back in a trailer and hookup water and electric, helping them start fires and how to set up tents. It’s been a learning experience, but we’re already seeing a good retention rate from last year to this year.”
Some tips for a smooth camping experience would be to book well in advance of your anticipated stay, as popular dates, especially holidays and weekends fill up quickly. Mid-week tends to have more openings, and most campgrounds offer maps that show the layout of the available sites. Registering early can secure your preferred location.
It can be helpful to become familiar with your equipment prior to arrival. That might mean setting up a tent in your garage, starting a campfire in backyard fire ring or driving a new camper to a vacant parking lot to practice backing into tight spaces. The more you do in advance to learn these skills, the easier it will be to set up efficiently upon arrival.
Think about food plans ahead of time. Pre-cook or package meals in a way that they will be simple to store, prepare and eat in a camp setting. Consider bringing along a folding prep table to use as a workstation and bring plenty of supplies for clean up detail. Have a plan for safely storing food and trash so that wildlife will not get into it overnight.
Keep a close eye on the weather prior to your stay. Don’t set up tents in a low spot, or you’ll likely be wet by morning if it rains. Beware of dead overhanging branches that could fall in high winds. If you do get precipitation, be prepared to set up your tent or pop-up camper to dry it out again when you get home, so it doesn’t get moldy during long-term storage.
Pack comfortable chairs for sitting around the campfire, often the centerpiece of the camping experience, and plan ahead with tools for roasting marshmallows. Bring along a length of paracord to string up a wash line to dry any clothes or dishtowels that might get wet during your stay.
Pack various layers of clothes to match the daytime and nighttime temperatures. A small axe can be very useful for hammering in tent stakes and splitting firewood into easy to light strips of kindling, and don’t forget your sunscreen and insect repellant.
Camping can be an extremely enjoyable pastime, but it helps to be prepared. The more you go, the more you’ll learn. Just like the more you bake, the better your apple pies will be. And so goes camping with summer.
To find a campground near you, please visit www.pacamping.com