Campgrounds see demand up amid pandemic

By The Associated Press

PERU — Some Indiana campgrounds have been packed this summer with campers seeking a taste of the great outdoors following months of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, managers say.

John Cardwell, who owns the Hidden Creek Campground near the northern Indiana city of Peru, said that within a few weeks of opening the members-only campground all camping sites had been booked for the season.

“People don’t want to stay in hotels and fly on airplanes, but they still want to get out and do something with the family,” he told the Kokomo Tribune. “They feel like they can do that in a safer way at a campsite.”

The pandemic has brought his business' highest demand yet, Cardwell said. And that uptick in demand is across the board at campgrounds around the area as people seek safe ways for outdoor activities.

State recreational areas are also seeing high demand.

Theresa Rody, interpretive manager at Mississinewa Lake, said the nearly 500 overnight camping sites at the lake have been booked almost every weekend this year. She said that during most seasons camping areas are entirely booked only a few times a year. Rody estimates that up to 40% of the people booking this year are first-time campers.

“I think people are hesitant of traveling to other states where you don’t know what’s going to be open or what you’re allowed to do, so this is a way to stay close to home and enjoy time with the family,” Rody said.

If people don’t get a campsite at the lake, they look to Honey Bear Hollow Family Campground in northwest Peru, said owner Bob Billetz, who added that he's also seen a booking boom.

“I think people are discovering we have these gems right here in our state, and they’ll want to spend more time enjoying them,” Rody said.

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