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Cooler, Wet Weather Slows Start Of ’18 Season

May 16, 2018 by   - () Leave a Comment

Some campgrounds have had to combat heavy snow and cooler temperatures this spring. Photo courtesy of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest.

Campground association directors have told Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) that RV park and campground owners in northern states have had to deal with unseasonably cool temperatures and in some areas late spring snowfall, which has slowed the start of the 2018 camping season.

According to the National Weather Service, several areas in Wisconsin broke April snowfall records, with Green Bay seeing 24.2 inches in mid-April.

In Pennsylvania, Beverly Gruber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA), told WCM that it slowed down the process of preparing campgrounds for the camping season.

“We’re about a month behind what we have been before,” she explained. “It’s just been a slow start. I had one campground owner tell me that he’s getting tired of turning his water on and off because it freezes, and he said he has little fountains all over his campground.”

Lori Severson, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO), said that Wisconsin campgrounds have had a much cooler spring, delaying the start of the camping season.

“The campers have certainly been ready, but I don’t know that the campground owners have been, because obviously this has really shoved our spring season into June, so everybody is really scurrying to get ready and get everything opened up,” she noted.

Bev Gruber

In Ohio, Kristy Smith, executive director of the Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) said that she doesn’t know of any owners delaying the opening of their parks, but that the cool, wet weather has definitely played a part in preparing campgrounds for what is slated to be a very busy season.

“We had a really cold and wet spring leading up to the opening of the season,” she mentioned. “The winter kind of lingered for far too long here.”

In Maine, the wet, cooler weather hasn’t impacted things too much as campgrounds typically open later than others in North America anyways, according to Kathy Dryer, executive director of the Maine Campground Owners Association (MCOA).

“The seasonal campers are coming in and getting things cleaned up, and then owners will open the doors basically to everybody,” she explained.

Still, even with the wet, cooler spring, association directors say that owners are expecting a big year coming off a solid 2017 campaign.

In New York, Don Bennett, executive director of the Campground Owners of New York (CONY), said that it really has been the tail of two cities.

“We’ve been fighting the weather and colder than normal temperatures,” he explained. “So, that’s the bad news that a lot of people know. But the second tale is, I have to be honest, everybody I’ve talked to, the advance reservations are through the roof.

Don Bennett

“And then the other thing that I’m hearing more and more is a shortage of the seasonal sites,” Bennett continued. “There’s more guests that are coming into the market, that are looking to purchase or have purchased RVs in the past couple of years, that have kind of decided that they’re maybe not the best at traveling with them or towing them, and they’ve found a park or an area that they’d like to be in and spend more time with their family in. So, the seasonal camping demand has just been very strong as well.”

Gruber explained that in Pennsylvania campground owners saw the best occupancy rates in more than 30 years in 2017 and that she expects the good times to continue in 2018.

“So, a little slow to start, but hopefully they keep their campgrounds packed throughout the summer,” she said.

Severson mentioned that even though the camping season has been delayed a bit in Wisconsin, campers are eager to get outside.

“The 2018 season is supposed to be pretty busy and I know my campground (Champions Riverside Resort in Galesville, Wisc.) was plum full last weekend,” she noted.

In Virginia, the weather has been cool and wet, but Emily Peck, executive director of the Virginia Campground Association (VCA) with her husband Brandon, said that numbers have been steady at the park her parents operate, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Gloucester Point in Hayes, Va.

“We expect another strong camping season in Virginia,” she explained. “We might have had some more reservations come through if it had been warmer, but we’re still getting reservations. It might be because the north was so cold they are still coming down a little bit south.”

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