Ohio State Park Camping Up 15.8% This Summer
The stalled economy might not leave room for a weeklong Caribbean cruise, but a growing number of Ohioans have sought more cost-effective vacations in the great outdoors, according to the Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle Gazette.
“We have seen a wonderful increase in camping this year. Our figures are up over 15%,” said Jean Backs, public information section manager for Ohio State Parks.
Ohio State Parks data from mid-July show camping has increased by 15.8% from 2008, and getaway rentals — ranging from platform tents to camper cabins — also are up by 4.7%.
Nationally, campground reservations through ReserveAmerica.com, which books campsites in most national parks, were up 8% from this past year in the first six months of 2009, USA TODAY reported.
Backs credited the summer’s fair weather for part of the increase, but lower gas prices and the economy also factor in, she said, as more people look to save by sticking close to home — a trend known as “staycationing.”
“We find (staycationing) to be a trend that’s definitely going on this year — people are staying closer to home,” Backs said.
On a humid July Saturday that gravitated between thunderstorms and sunshine, Melanie and Randy Kelley, of Newark, Ohio, read newspapers in folding chairs around a campfire at the Lazy River at Granville campground as their two daughters, each with a friend, toasted marshmallows for a mid-morning snack.
The family tries to take their RV to an area campground at least once per month, Randy said, and consider their trips a way to do something special without breaking the bank.
“It gets you away from everyday normal routine, even if it’s just a weekend,” Melanie said.
“It’s cheaper this way. And easier,” he said. “You go to the beach, you’ve got to eat out every day.”
Mark Kasper, owner of Lazy River at Granville, said the campground has seen a steady volume of traffic this year.
There are a number of reasons camping is considered more economical than other vacations, Backs said, among them money saved on site rental versus the cost of a hotel stay and packing groceries instead of eating out.
But there’s also something to be said for the distinctive culture of camping that tends to win people over, recession or not, said Fred and Carolyn Woods, of Kirkersville.
The couple parked their camper at Lazy River at Granville to enjoy a weekend away with their son and two grandchildren. They go camping every summer, usually to a destination within a few hours of home.
“It’s not cheap, but it’s a lot less expensive than going somewhere and staying in a motel,” Carolyn said.
Beyond the money-saving, the family enjoys the camping experience, they said — from relaxing by the campfire at night to getting to know campsite “neighbors.”