Friday, June 1, 2012
Campgrounds and RV Resorts celebrate National Great Outdoors Month & the Summer Camping Season with family fun activities
No longer limiting themselves to canoe and kayak rentals, many lakefront campgrounds now have inflatable floating trampolines as well as floating and land-based water slides. Others offer guided nature walks, horseback riding, ropes courses and ziplines ranging from 300 to 800 feet.
Activities range from zany cardboard boat races to family Olympics games, scavenger hunts to outdoor cooking competitions.
June is national Great Outdoors Month and campgrounds affiliated with GoCampingAmerica.com are celebrating the occasion and the arrival of the summer camping season with fun family activities.
“You can use our campgrounds as base camps for day trips for exploring nearby attractions or you can stay at the campground and enjoy the activities they have on-site,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts GoCampingAmerica.com.
The travel planning website lists more than 3,000 privately owned and operated campgrounds across the U.S., many of which have tie-dye T-shirt activities and arts and crafts classes and special weekend themed events, including family Olympic games and other competitive events. A growing number of campgrounds also offer horseback riding, ropes courses and ziplines.
And if you haven’t visited a campground before and don’t have camping equipment, don’t worry. Many of the campgrounds affiliated with GoCampingAmerica.com offer rental accommodations ranging from safari tents to yurts and tipis and fully furnished park model cabins. Many also have onsite stores.
“Campgrounds are making it easier and easier for people to give camping a try at whatever level of comfort best suits their family’s needs,” Bambei said.
Here is a sampling of the growing diversity activities and accommodations that are available at campgrounds in (and around) the Great Lakes region:
Austin Lake Park & Campground, Toronto, Ohio: Summer activities at this Appalachian foothills campground include a children’s pirate coin treasure hunt on June 30th and a golf cart and bicycle parade on July 7th. Two psychics will also provide readings on the weekend of July 14th. www.austinlakepark.com
Beaver Lake Campground in Custer, S.D.: This 81-site campground, located roughly 20 to 25 minutes from Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park, offers a 360-foot-long water slide as well as cabin and teepee rentals. The park also offers more than 40 bicycles for guest use. www.beaverlakecampground.net
Benner’s Meadow Run Camping & Cabins, Farmington, Penn.: Summer activities include a wine lover’s weekend with Christian Klay Winery on the weekend of July 13th and 14th; a rain gutter regatta on the weekend of July 20th and 21st; and a bean bag pitching tournament on the weekend of Aug. 17th and 18th. For a complete summer activity schedule, visit www.bennersmeadowrun.com
Lazy River at Granville, Granville, Ohio: Attractions at this campground include a 300-foot long zipline and frequent visits by “the bug lady,” a woman who regularly comes to the campground to show children her suitcase full of insects and take them on tours of the campground in search of insects. This summer activities also include a performance by ventriloquist Mark Wade on July 1st and a “Games from around the world” weekend on July 27th to 29th with Origami and an international campsite decorating contest. New rental accommodations at this park include a “Hot Rod Hut,” a 500-square foot facility with a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities for up to six people. “The Hot Rod Hut is designed for car racing enthusiasts,” explains park co-owner Mark Kasper. “It includes a man-door and a garage door so you can pull your car in and sleep with it. It also has a poker table. And for weekends, it is an ideal place for the groomsmen to hang out.” www.lazyriveratgranville.com
Lena KOA, Lena, Ill.: Summer activities at this park include the 3rd annual “Mystery Whodunit Dinner Party” on the weekend of Aug. 24th to 26th as well as a mystery scavenger hunt for the kids. The park also features ice cream socials and group campfires with singalongs and live entertainment. www.koa.com
Merry Mac’s Campground in Merrimac, Wis.: This park’s summer activities include an “Under the Sea Beach Party” June 22nd to 24th with sand castle building, a beach blanket party and limbo contest while a “Death by Chocolate” weekend is scheduled for July 27th to 29th with chocolate mud wrestling, chocolate food specials and human sundaes. Cardboard boat races are scheduled on the weekend of Aug. 3rd to 5th while a parkwide “water wars” event is planned for July 20th to 22nd in which guests don super soakers, water guns and water balloons and have a soaking good time with campground staff. www.merrymacscampground.com
Pineland Camping Park in Arkdale, Wis.: This park is home to Pinezilla, the world’s largest inflatable waterslide at 42 feet high and 175 feet long. But that’s not the only attraction. The park is constantly adding new toys, the latest of which is the “Demolition Ball,” a game in which people stand on platforms and try to keep their balance as players try to knock them off with – you guessed it – a wrecking ball. But the wrecking ball at Pineland Camping Park is a little different from what you might be thinking of. It’s made of vinyl and the entire game is played on an inflatable vinyl structure. So anyone who falls will have a soft landing. Pineland is filled with unusual games, including a giant chess set and a bazooka ball shootout game. The park also has organized family activities, themed weekends and visits by unusual entertainers. A chainsaw artist is scheduled to visit the park over Memorial Day weekend, while a psychic is scheduled to entertain guests on Aug. 25th. A caricature artist will be at the park on July 14th and will do individual and family portraits. On Aug. 18th, Pineland visits will be entertained by a reptile and exotic animal show. www.pinelandcamping.com
Redbeard’s Ranch in Lebanon, Mo.: This campground offers quiet campsites on a wooded 295-acre ranch with weekend bow hunting of whitetail deer and wild turkey. The park, which is located along the Niangua River, also offers weekend classes in fly-fishing, along with canoe, raft and kayak rentals and hayrides. Bow hunting is also available in season. The park also offers three heated Sioux Indian-style teepees, which are popular with families, as well as a fully furnished, luxury “Glamping” tent cabin. www.redbeardsranch.com
Scenic Ridge Campground in Whitewater, Wis.: This park’s summer activities include several Saturday water ski shows between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend as well as a Family Olympics on the weekend of June 22nd to 24th with a series of challenging and hilarious events including a “crazy bat race.” Labor Day weekend activities will include kids crafts, tattoos and face painting, camp car races, volleyball and horseshoe tournaments and a “blinky glow parade.” The park also puts on a lengthy haunted trail for its Halloween themed weekends in late September and early October. The trail takes about 25 minutes to complete. http://scenicrdigecampground.com
Sherwood Forest Campground & RV Park in the Wisconsin Dells, Wis.: One of the highlights of the summer at this park is Mardi Gras weekend. “People dress up as jesters, decorate their campsites and we have a parade,” said park co-owner Becky Gussell. The park also celebrates the seasons with a Christmas in July weekend on July 13th, 14th and 15th with a campsite decorating contest and a Halloween Weekend on July 27th, 28th and 29th with campsite decorating and costume contests. " www.sherwoodforestcamping.com
Stoney Creek RV Resort in Osseo, Wis.: This park’s special events include a “Clown Fest” and Carnival weekend on the weekend of July 27th to 29th, when all of the park guests are invited to dress up in clown suits. The park used to hire a company from Madison to supply about 200 clown suits. But this year, Stoney Creek is inviting its guests to make their own clown suits. The park will have craft activities for children in the morning, followed by a parade in the afternoon. The park is also organizing a carnival clown festival to take place in the afternoon with carnival games. Other themed weekends include a Christmas in July weekend July 13th to 15th, which includes campsite decorating and a visit by Santa Claus. A harvest festival with scarecrow making, bobbing for apples and cookie decorating is also being planned. www.stoneycreekrvresort.com
Vista Royalle Campground in Bancroft, Wis.: This park’s activities include a “death by chocolate” weekend on June 22nd to 24th with crafts, a chocolate eating contest and a nighttime Tootsie Roll hunt. An Easter-themed weekend with a crafts, a greased egg toss and an Easter egg hunt is planned for the weekend of July 20th to 22nd, while Halloween themed weekends with campsite decorating, trick or treating, bobbing for apples and a monster costume ball are planned for Sept. 14th to 16th and Sept. 21st to 23rd. The park is also planning a family fun weekend on Aug. 3rd to 5th with a kids’ carnival, a family movie and popcorn under the stars. The park also plans to bring in a reptile specialist who brings pythons, boa constrictors and other reptiles to share with guests. www.vistaroyalle.com