Nothing can stop them, the die-hard campers, who, despite bad weather, the failing economy or high fuel prices, keep traveling to Branson, Mo.
“The economy hasn’t stopped us from camping,” said Ronnie Dunigan, of Tulsa, Okla. “We don’t come quite as often as we did before, but now we stay longer. It’s just not feasible to come to Branson to camp for only three or four days, because of the price of gas.”
This time around, Dunigan is setting up for a month-long stay, according to the Branson Daily News. “My RV gets about six miles to the gallon, so when we travel, we try to get our money’s worth,” he said. “We have been (camping) for 58 years and we don’t plan on stopping because of a little bad weather or gas prices.”
Campground owners agree there has been some decline, but reservations haven’t stopped and November is looking up.
“Business declined for a little bit, but it came back when the gas prices went down,” said George Shivers, who owns Oak Grove Campground in Branson.
“Our spring was above last year, but this year was unusually slow. Even so, we are ahead for September and October.”
Other campground owners say this year has been slower than usual.
“We had a slow summer,” said Rhonda Stout, owner of Lakeview Campground. “We have picked back up, and now since the gas prices are lower, we have more reservations for November than we expected. My husband and I have owned this campground for six years and 2006 was our lowest year – because the gas and the weather makes all the difference.”
To some, camping is a form of escape from daily life. For others, camping is a way of life and an opportunity to see the world and work along the way.
“I come to camp in Branson because I love it here and I work while I’m here,” said Edwin Lewis, of Greenville, Texas. “The economy hasn’t stopped me yet. But, if it gets worse, I will be forced to reconsider.”
Bud Driskell, of Kansas City, Kan., sees camping as the least expensive way to travel.
“Camping is cheap,” he said. “I came to Branson and this time I only had to fill up once. I can camp cheaper than I can travel any other way.”
There are also campers who travel to Branson because of the benefits for senior citizens.
“Branson goes all out for its seniors,” said Ava Cox, of Crestview, Fla. “We’ll keep coming to Branson to camp until the money runs out.”