LANCASTER COUNTY, PA (WHTM) – Camping was a popular activity last summer as COVID-19 caused people to cancel trips and seek safer outdoor activities. In warmer weather, the 2021 camping season will start soon.
A report sponsored by Kampgrounds of America found that in September 2020, both campers and non-campers said camping was the safest form of travel. The KOA report also found that a quarter of all North American campers last year were first-time campers, and 82% of those first-time campers had children in their homes.
Paul Weiss, parks and recreation administrator for the Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation, saw this trend last summer at Mill Creek Camping Area. “We saw a lot of families who wanted to camp and a lot of first-time campers,” says Weiss.
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With COVID-19 making inter-household gatherings unsafe, Mill Creek had less group camping than usual. Phil True, a funny planner at Refreshing Mountain, says the same was the case with Refreshing Mountain’s cabins.
Even so, individuals and families filled the huts and campsites where group events might otherwise have taken place. In fact, so many people wanted to spend the night in the cabins on Refreshing Mountain that True says, “We definitely turned people away who wanted to show up.”
Cabins on Refreshing Mountain (Image credit: Refreshing Mountain)
Weiss encourages campers to familiarize themselves with the campsites before arriving. Campsites offer various amenities that need to be considered in advance. Some places, like Mill Creek, are considered “primitive,” which means they have little more than fire pits and space to pitch a tent. Others, like the cabins on Refreshing Mountain, are more comfortable for creatures.
True and Weiss also suggest that individuals reserve campsites in advance. “It’s always good to make a reservation. With camping is becoming more popular [again]Many seats are full, ”says Weiss. And according to Weiss, individuals should only camp in designated camping areas to be safe and avoid intrusion.
For first-time campers, Weiss recommends practicing first with a camping experience in the backyard. This could help reveal missing equipment or potential challenges. “It’s always easy to break off a camping trip in your yard. It’s a little more difficult when you’re camping elsewhere, ”he says.
While camping, individuals should also take steps to protect the surrounding area. “I love encouraging people not to leave a mark,” says True [the campsite] better than you found “
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Some campsites offer dumpsters, while others require campers to “pack, unpack” them, which means that they must take whatever they bring with them.
Securing food and rubbish properly is another important camping tip that Weiss offers. This helps to avoid litter and it also prevents curious wildlife from getting into campers’ belongings. The National Park Service recommends storing food and other fragrant products in a durable airtight container and / or hanging them on a tree (different campsites may have different rules).
In order not to harm the environment, campers should stay on established routes. And Weiss says: “I don’t want to sound like Smokey the Bear here, I want to manage your fire.”
In addition, the CDC provides recommendations for safe camping during COVID-19. This includes bringing disinfectants and practicing social distancing around people from different households.
Now that you have some tips for safe and responsible camping, it’s time to find a campsite. Here are places to camp in Lancaster County: