What to expect when you stay at a Campground during Covid.

This is the summer of the Great Outdoors. To explore the world around you. Whether it\’s visiting a National Park or just trying to get away to camp. There are so many options. Since I work at a campground I\’d like to share some of the challenges camps face welcoming the public during these unprecedented times.

I\’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work in the Great Outdoors this summer. I am one of the management staff at a camp location in Southern New York. It\’s a unique challenge to help run a camp in the middle of a pandemic. Here are some of the things to expect when visiting a family campground this summer.

1. Masks are required in any indoor public space, or within 6 feet of someone you are having a conversation with.


Just like anywhere else you are in the US if you enter a public building, such as a restaurant, you are required to wear a mask. The same is true when you come to camp. However, it doesn\’t matter how many signs you post, people still want to walk around unfettered by that piece of cloth which can protect you. In order for us to be open, it\’s important that all of our guests not only adhere to wearing masks in indoor spaces but also if they come within 6 feet of another guest they are not traveling with.

2. Read the signs. Read all signs!


Just because you\’re in the great outdoors does not mean there are no rules or notices to follow. Too often guests do not read signs and ignore the rules. If a sign says that you have to wear your life vest in the water, wear a life vest. If a sign says the dining hall is only open during certain hours do not try to enter the dining hall when it is closed. I don\’t know why so many of our guests ignore signs we have put in place for their safety. It\’s as if the rules don\’t apply to them. I hate to break it to them but it does.

I was in Yellowstone a couple of years ago and at one of the hot springs there is a sign that clearly reads, \”DO NOT WALK ANYWHERE EXCEPT ON THE PATH PROVIDED\”.  However, there was a group of tourists who decided, that sign didn\’t apply to them and began to walk on the fragile ecosystems off the path. Luckily there was a park ranger nearby to correct them but that isn\’t always the case. In that instant, the fragile landscape could have broken under the tourist\’s feet and plunged them into boiling springs. They didn\’t care, the sign didn\’t apply to them, except it did.

3. Rules are in place for a reason

At our camp facility, we have a strict 3 pm check-in policy. That means that we cannot allow any guests to use our camp facilities until after 3 pm when they have check-in for their reservation. This is so that we not only have time to clean the camp for our incoming visitors but also to be able to manage our guests who are checking out to have the opportunity to stay and use the facilities until our new guests arrive. This minimizes the overpopulation of our camp which is a requirement during COVID.

4. No smoking is allowed


It doesn\’t matter if you\’re vaping, smoking cigarettes, or anything in between it\’s a flat out no in our camp and any of our buildings. Not only is it a fire hazard inside our cabins but it\’s also a fire hazard outdoors, especially since we\’ve been having a dry summer.

Smoking is impressionable and a majority of our campers are families with children. We want to minimize their exposure to any type of harmful fumes as well as keep the camp clean. How would you like it if I lit up in your house and then discarded the butt on your floor? No one wants to camp where there are tons of butts littering the ground.

5. Life vests are there for your safety, wear them!


We have kayaks and canoes available for our guests to use while they are staying with us, as long as they sign up for a time to use them. Boating is fun but can also be dangerous and I\’ve seen too many guests go out in a canoe or kayak without wearing a life vest. I understand they are not the most comfortable thing to wear but it\’s better to be safe than at the bottom of a lake.

6. Respect the wildlife


At our camp, we have a lot of wildlife visitors. We get everything from bears to rattlesnakes. The forests and parks are their natural habitat, we are the visitors not them. So if you see wildlife of any kind keep a safe distance. Do not poke or prod them. Don\’t crowd around them. Would you like someone gawking at you and poking you while you\’re just out for a walk? Observe them temporarily and move on. And please do not ask the staff to move them out of the way. We are in their house, they are not in ours.

7. Respect the outdoors, put trash where it\’s meant to go.

DO NOT LITTER! I don\’t care where you\’re from. We get a lot of visitors from New York City because of our camp\’s proximity. For some reason, people think they can leave their garbage everywhere. If they don\’t see a garbage can they think, that\’s ok, I\’ll just leave it here on this path, polluting the environment, attracting more wildlife… do you see where I\’m going with this? If you don\’t see a receptacle for garbage ask someone where you can put it. And why do people think that \”Recycling bottles and cans only\” actually means all types of garbage? It doesn\’t! Read the signs people. Do you just leave garbage everywhere in your house? Don\’t do it outdoors either.

8. Enjoy the sounds of nature and being outdoors


You came camping for a reason. To get outside. To enjoy the great outdoors. So why are you upset when you can\’t blast your music and connect to wifi? And why are you put off when it\’s suggested that you take one of the many trail hikes when the beach is full? You\’re meant to be relaxing and enjoying nature not annoyed because you can\’t connect to wifi. Wifi is not available to our guests and there is little cell service so make sure you\’re comfortable with disconnecting from technology for a couple of days.

8. Have Fun.

I know a lot of this post is devoted to what you shouldn\’t do when you come camping but you should take advantage of what the outdoors has to offer. Gorgeous hikes, amazing discoveries, chance views of wildlife, reconnecting with your friends and family without technology, and taking a break from the craziness that is our lives.

Next time you go camping make sure to unplug and detach. Breathe the fresh air. Try doing nothing. The Italians have a term for it which is \”fare niente,\” to do nothing it\’s an art. Try it. You\’ll find that when you return to your life you\’re relaxed, recharged, and ready for anything that is thrown at you.

Until next time.


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