The summer of 2020 can be defined by many terms, and the camping boom is one of them.
Outdoor activities like hiking, biking and kayaking increased in popularity after quarantine kept people inside for months. The state and national park campgrounds that officially opened were booked to capacity early in the season.
With many people hesitant to travel by plane or stay in hotels, they turned to a new hobby with a sense of adventure. Some first-time campers tried tent camping, but a record number of people purchased an RV. It was seen as a safer alternative to travel.
Most of the customers were first-time owners of RVs. Recent sales in early 2021 are showing that the trend will continue this summer.
We decided to sell our camper at the end of the summer after our last trip of the season. I was unprepared for the questions posed by people who were interested in buying the camper.
One person asked, “How do you make reservations?” While another flat out asked for a vague descriptive narrative, “Tell me more about camping.”
I thought we were merely selling a camper. Instead, we were introducing strangers to a new hobby.
I am very curious if the “newbies” will stick with it or if there will be a surplus of campers for sale this summer. I really hope they found joy in the experience and will continue to delight in being closer to nature.
The roles were flipped, and we became the consumers when we purchased a used bunkhouse trailer, an upgrade by four feet in length and two additional beds.
At one point in our marriage, we vehemently declared we would always be tent campers. We would choose simplicity and never purchase a camper.
After our fourth child, we realized how much easier it was to pack and set up a camper. Occasionally, we still like to go back to our roots and tent camp or sleep in a shelter.
Finally, with our new camper, we had enough beds for everyone. Logically, I invited the cousins along.
Our annual Easter dinner with extended family was canceled for the second year, but we still wanted to be together. We turned to my family’s tradition of heading to Salt Fork State Park for the weekend.
I thought we would reenact all the same traditions I had done with my own family, except staying at the campground instead of a cabin. The surprising thing was that we found new and different ways to enjoy the park.
An archery range is located near the entrance to the campground. It features 12 stations along a trail within the woods. My archers enjoyed their time perfecting their skills along the trail shoot.
My niece lives in Columbus and has taken up a new hobby of indoor bouldering. She was thrilled when we heard there were boulders along Pine Crest Loop Trail. For the first time, she could actually try bouldering in nature.
The boulders sit along the shoreline with gorgeous views of the lake. While massive in size, they have grooves and numerous holes within their rocky surface that made climbing possible.
We actually spent most of our time in the campground. The most memorable parts of our trip were simple pleasures that could be found in any state or national park campground.
We laughed and relaxed around the campfire. We stood in awe as millions of stars came out after the gorgeous sunset. Cousins shared beds and giggled together late into the night. Birdsongs filled the air in the early morning.
We hiked nature trails and pointed out the earliest spring wildflowers. Bald eagles soared high above us and deer swiftly darted out of our way.
I can understand camping’s recent surge in popularity. The secret is out. Families do not have to fly across the country to experience the best vacation.
Our region has diverse options for camping and exploring. One tank trips into paradise can happen any weekend.
An anonymous quote captures the essence of camping: “There’s no WiFi in the mountains, but you’ll find no better connection.”
Whether it’s a connection with family or nature that is being sought, both can be found camping.
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