For Connie Ferris, acting as DJ at Benner, Pa.’s Meadow Run Campground is part of the allure of camping, according to WESA.
The music, along with shared meals and campfires amid a string of RVs parked here for the summer, helps make the place feel like a community.
Ferris spends half the week at the Fayette County campground. In the evenings, she connects her phone to a portable speaker and takes song requests.
“Whatever anybody wants to hear,” she said, though she drew the line recently at rapper Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
Ferris keeps the music eclectic, streaming it on YouTube using her cell phone data.
“We share six gigabytes a month,” she said. “We don’t need them at home, so we have to use them here.”
She could try connecting to Wi-Fi, but there’s a good chance it won’t work.
“We offer Wi-Fi for the campers, but we don’t really even advertise that we have it because it’s so limited,” said Chris Miller, who handles IT for the campground.
While some people camp to get off the grid, others want the ability to connect to the internet for work, to stream a movie or to post a photo from their trip.
According to the most recent Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) report, Wi-Fi access is among the top five considerations when selecting a campground.
“For years, whenever anybody called about renting a site at a campground, they asked if they had a swimming pool,” said Beverly Gruber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PACO). “That isn’t true anymore. They say, ‘Well, do you have Wi-Fi?’”
She estimates 80% of Pennsylvania campgrounds offer some form of Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all campers can connect.
Marylou Rohlf, owner of Benner’s, has to break the news to prospective campers that the Wi-Fi is hit or miss, even when the place isn’t busy. While this may not deter Ferris, others have a different reaction.
“They will ask when they call, ‘How is your Internet? I have to have internet service for my job. I could stay there for a week, but if I don’t have internet I’m going to look somewhere else,’” Rohlf said.
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