Phones were ringing off the hook last week at the Holly Lake Camp Sites near Long Neck, Del.
That’s just one small indicator that the state’s RV camping market is on the rebound after being hit hard by high gas prices the last few years, which kept many campers off the road, according to delmarvatoday.com.
Southern Delaware’s many public and private campgrounds are reporting a strong season, despite the economic downturn.
“The summer’s going to look good,” said Kenny Hopkins, Holly Lake’s manager.
At capacity, some parks, such as Treasure Beach on Little Assawoman Bay, are larger than many small towns, with several thousand people staying there during the height of the summer season. It has a small-town atmosphere, says manager Regina Trollinger: “We watch the kids grow up.”
Campers spruce up their RVs — some of which stay on site year-round — with fresh coats of paint, landscaping and patio chairs, creating homes away from home. Each park has a different appeal: Treasure Beach emphasizes aquatic activities, while Holly Lake is in a wooded area with hiking trails.
But the community feeling is just one of the draws for RVers who stay for all or part of the season. It’s cheaper to stay in a camper than in a hotel or other accommodation, Trollinger said.
“It’s their beach house, and less expensive than a condo at the ocean,” Trollinger noted.
That sentiment is echoed by Elaine Gallo, manager of the Tall Pines Campground a few minutes west of Lewes.
She said high gas prices the last few years convinced more people to sign up for the full summer season, rather than travel around the country and stay at many different places. All but a handful of her 431 seasonal sites are booked.
“We were a little concerned with the economy, but we’ve been surprisingly happy that it’s really doing well,” Gallo said.
Delaware’s public campgrounds are reporting similar surges. At the most popular state-run campground, Delaware Seashore State Park, all 45 hookup sites are reserved through Labor Day, said Andy Meanor, state parks operations manager.