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Summer camping season uncertain

Jack Danchak - Columnist
Posted 6/25/20

Donald G. Bennett Jr., president and CEO of the Campground Owners of New York State, Inc. said, “There are currently many campgrounds that are open. Some are open only to long-term guests and many …

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Summer camping season uncertain

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Donald G. Bennett Jr., president and CEO of the Campground Owners of New York State, Inc. said, “There are currently many campgrounds that are open. Some are open only to long-term guests and many are open to self-contained units only. Tent camping is a little more difficult, as many counties have not allowed this as yet.”

Bennett went on to say, “Private campgrounds often host full-time RV's, who spend an entire season at the facility. They are also utilized by workers who travel, including those in the medical profession. Private campgrounds are considered an essential business under the governor's Order 202.6, falling under the title of ‘Hotels and other Accommodations.' So we are really able to have campgrounds open.”

The question just isn't if and when campgrounds will open; it's what a facility needs to do to insure the safety of both visitors and staff.

Bennett said, “We feel that campgrounds can definitely be opened and be operated safely. With an RV, your bathroom and kitchen amenities are private and are part of your RV. The cleaning and sanitizing that is now standard helps assure campers that it is safe and the campground understands what it is supposed to be doing to provide a safe environment.”

Bennett added, “The campground industry is generally very safe due to the oversight by their local permit issuing official. The state health department and the CDC have all provided cleaning standards for common areas (if they are open) such as restrooms, laundry facilities and camp stores.

So the campgrounds when following guidance for cleaning and operations from their local health department and the Governor's Executive Orders, can be safe not only for campers and guests, but for employees and staff to also be able to do their jobs safely.”

Similar challenges will affect New York's state-owned camping facilities, many of which do not provide electrical and water hookups in the same manner as private facilities. They see a mix of RV and tent campers who often share bathroom and shower facilities as well as other amenities such as pavilions, beaches and boat launches. There has also been a state hiring freeze, which could affect seasonal park and campground staff if it is not lifted.

Like everything else related to the Coronavirus crisis, things and rules continually change and campers are reminded to stay informed.

Bennett concluded by saying, “The camping public needs to know that it is not business as usual at campgrounds right now. Many of the amenities are not able to be utilized. Camping trips currently need to be planned a little more in advance. One should definitely make sure you call the campground and make your reservation. Don't just show up. Plan ahead so you won't be disappointed.”

Jack Danchak is the President of the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County.

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