‘Camping Lite’ Snags New Breed
Jennifer McKeon of West Bridgewater, Mass., loves the idea of taking her family tent camping. Except for one thing: She hates camping. She hates the bugs. The dirt. Sleeping in a tent. Waking up in a tent.
Roasting marshmallows? Now that she can appreciate. So McKeon, according to the Boston Globe, found a way to enjoy the experience of tent camping without actually camping. She spent last week with her husband and two kids in a luxury yurt at Normandy Farms Campground near Foxborough, Mass., where amenities include a concierge, a fitness center, four swimming pools and a stocked fishing pond. The yurt – a round tent-like structure akin to those used by Mongolian nomads – is equipped with a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. It also has a kitchen, bathroom, deck and a fire pit for those marshmallows. A weekly rental costs $1,450.
"It's kind of a compromise," says McKeon, who owns a home improvement business with her husband, Joe. "You can go out side and have a fire at night, and it does feel like camping."
There was a time when camping was synonymous with getting away from it all, and there are still purists who believe this – survivalists, wilderness hikers, canoers who paddle to deserted islands, craving quiet, solitude, and no BlackBerry service. But at a time when eco-escapes are big and gas prices are restricting travel, a lot of New Englanders are getting creative about their vacations, and some are thinking seriously for the first time about camping. With certain reservations.
"They want a sense of maybe being in the outdoors but not necessarily lying on the ground and dealing with all the critters and cooking over an open fire," says Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Luckily, a new sub-industry – call it Camping Lite – has emerged over the past five years to accommodate them, becoming more and more luxurious each year.
For example, Normandy Farms opened in 1971 as a typical campground but has been adding a new convenience each year. This summer, it was the gated one-acre dog park with a dog water fountain, dog-washing station and dog agility equipment. Last year, it was the concierge and the portable log cabin playhouses. The year before that, they installed a big, spurting fountain in the fishing pond. Next year: two more yurts.