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Connecticut

Campers at Hidden Acres Campground in Preston, Conn.

Connecticut campgrounds operated under a lot of pandemic restrictions last summer, but that didn’t stop them from being busy — and demand is looking just as high this summer, if not higher, according to The Day.

“The family took over the campground 20 years ago, and it was our busiest season ever,” said Katie Hornat, manager of Laurel Lock Campground in Oakdale. “We had campsites filled during the week, we had all our seasonal sites booked, it was crazy. Everyone was so happy to be here, being outdoors.”

The campground also got a lot of business from people trying to go to state parks only to find them closed.

Last April, Hornat said Laurel Lock wouldn’t be hosting Friday night horseshoes, Saturday night cornhole, hayrides or potlucks during the 2020 season.

But she said last week that Laurel Lock is “resuming a relatively normal event schedule,” including concerts throughout the summer, horseshoe tournaments, hayrides, a magician, a “campsite crawl,” a 55th-anniversary party for the campground and an end-of-season potluck dinner.

Hornat said all the seasonal sites are booked again this year, and there’s a waiting list for next year. She is not seeing as many weekday bookings as last year, but most weekends are booked up.

At Hidden Acres Campground in Preston, owner Bill Migliaccio said that oddly enough, there’s a change from the pandemic he likes: Hidden Acres reduced the number of guests campers can bring, which “makes for a quieter campground.”

But he said last summer was stressful, as some people thought COVID-19 restrictions were too strict and others found them too lenient.

He thinks business is up this summer, though he noted business has gradually been climbing over the years anyway.

As for activities, Migliaccio said “it looks like it’s going to be business as usual this year,” with DJs hired for outdoor music, hayrides and the craft shop open.

At Mystic Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Holiday, General Manager Allison Lago said the site had to operate at 50% capacity last year and sold out several weekends throughout the summer. She saw a lot of local people camping, “instead of maybe taking that big trip out west,” and a lot of first-time campers.

Saskia Boogman, a spokesperson for Kampgrounds of America Inc., said in a statement that the proportion of first-time campers in 2020 was five times greater than in 2019, though registrations across the KOA system were down 1.4% from the year before. For this year, the May KOA Monthly Research Report showed that 72% of campers plan to camp in their own state.

Lago said Mystic KOA is already ahead this year from the same time last year; the deluxe cabins are already booked on weekends through the end of August, which doesn’t usually happen until the beginning of summer. The campground is open at 100% capacity this year.

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