With state park campgrounds being closed, many Floridians have been camping at privately owned campgrounds, RV parks and resorts featured on CampFlorida.com
Twin Lakes Camp Resort in Defuniak Springs offers lots of wide open spaces, mature shade trees and two huge lakes. Its RV and tent sites are also spaced far apart from each other as well as its fully furnished glamping tents.
“People can de-stress here,” said Patrick O’Neill, who co-owns and operates the campground with his wife and five Millennial children who have helped transform the park into a glamping resort.
“Some people are coming a day or two early and staying a day or two later. It’s a very calm group of people who are camping right now. We see families cooking outside, playing catch or enjoying our lakes. One lady who stayed here recently told me, ‘I forgot all about COVID-19 since I’ve been here. This is a place to go to be normal, to experience normal life again.’”
Ever since Governor Ron DeSantis reopened Florida to leisure travel May 4, privately owned campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are seeing increasing numbers of families as well as groups of friends enjoying the great outdoors, said Bobby Cornwell, executive director and CEO of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts CampFlorida.com, the travel planning website.
Cornwell added that many privately owned parks have seen a boost in business because state park campgrounds have been closed.
Nancy Dring of Panama City took a camping trip with a group of friends two weeks ago. She and her husband and five other couples stayed at Outback Springs RV Resort in Bonifay. And even though all of them followed social distancing guidelines, they still were able to enjoy each other’s company in the campground rather than online.
“We didn’t go into each other’s motorhomes like we normally do,” said Dring, who camped in a 35-foot Tiffin motorhome. “But we still had a great time. We were in the sun and getting some fresh air. During the day, we fished at the pond. Us girls got into the pool, but we didn’t have our chairs butted up against each other. We ordered food from a restaurant and picked it up.”
At nighttime, they also enjoyed a campfire together.
Dring said her group had so much fun they hope to go camping at least once a month.
Josh Tankersley camped last weekend in a 33-foot Cruiser travel trailer with his wife, Becky and two daughters, ages 6 and 11, and their family dog at Ocean Grove Resort in St. Augustine. He said it was the first time his daughters had left their house in seven weeks.
“They were like wound up rubber bands,” he said. “It was so nice to do something different. We absolutely want to camp more.”
Tankersley said his kids are “pretty much fish” and love to swim, though they don’t have a swimming pool at home. So they enjoyed swimming at Ocean Grove Resort.
Further to the South, Jim Zito recently enjoyed a weekend camping trip with his wife and 10-year-old daughter at Indian Mound Fish Camp in Oak Hill, about 25 miles south of Daytona Beach.
“They have campsites right along the Indian River, so we were able to cast a line right from our campsite,” said Zito, who lives in Casselberry, northeast of Orlando. He said he is looking forward to taking more camping trips with his family this summer in their popup camper.
“We felt we had adequate space and that the park had adequate safety measures in place,” he said.
Cornwell said Florida’s campgrounds and RV parks are following sanitation and safety guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Outback Springs RV Resort is a case in point.
“We are practicing social distancing and undertaking additional sanitizing and cleaning, as well as contactless check in,” said park co-owner Peter Swales.
About the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
Based in Tallahassee, the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is the trade association for Florida’s privately owned RV parks and campgrounds. The association markets privately owned and operated parks through CampFlorida.com, the travel planning website. The association also publishes a free printed camping guide, which can be ordered through CampFlorida.com.