b'he continued, The grounds are immaculate, nity in the Southeast, with themed events tak-Parks like Saw Mill Resort offer traditional campground and Pats guests treat the campground like ing place every weekend of the year, a largeamenities, while also hosting a full activity calendar.its their own home. Its also starting to be- heated outdoor clothing-optional pool, fourcome extremely popular right now and even bars, a restaurant and a nightclub. Locatedgetting hard to get a site when reservations between Tampa and Orlando, its goal is toopen in early March. Its an hour and 15- draw city people to aminute drive for us and I get so excited to get countrysetting,ac-there because I know its going to be a great cording to the generalweekend. manager, Justin Pam-Paul Narsavage, a computer programmer plin.from Bethlehem, Pa., leases a permanent site The resort is ownedat The Woods and has been camping there by an HOA of approxi-since Pat opened it 17 years ago. Hes sur- mately 100 sharehold-rounded his fifth-wheel with a deck and a ers who purchased theshed and keeps his equipment there all year. Justin Pamplin parkin2011.PamplinI originally went there as a great social came on board a year later. Today, there areoutlet, he said. Because its LGBTQ, it al- 122 resident sites, 68 RV rental sites, 49 tentlows me to be myself and not feel uncomfort- sites and 32 cabins on the 120-acre property.able. I always liked going camping, so I was Seventy percent of the shareholders live inreally intrigued when I found out about it and the park year-round, and many of the RV sitescould go up there every weekend.Its basi- are occupied all winter by Florida snowbirds.cally a summer home where I dont have to Justin Pamplin, 39, sees his biggest chal-worry about being gay, being out and I dont lenge as attracting a younger generation ofhave to hide anything. Its great to be me. guests. Unfortunately, gays are aging out ofOn the shore of Lake Limestone in central camping. So, weve become more than just aTexas, Rainbow Ranch Campgroundis more campground. We offer high energy entertain-family oriented than The Woods. Originally ment, more like a cruise ship. We take a lot ofdeveloped in 1997 as a tent camp for lesbians, pride in our entertainment value and ourit over the years to include men and families. great amenities. Were always reinvestingBrad Camp had been regularly visiting the more money into the park, and weve just re-park for about four years when he realized modeled our nightclub. The park also spon-the owner was going to sell the 150-acre sors womens weekends four times per year.property. He and his husband owned a real Sawmill charges an annual membershipestate management company in Dallas, spe- fee of $35, and most of the member fees arecializing in commercial leasing. They decided renewals. They require that all members bethey didnt want to lose the option of visiting 21 years of age. No children are allowed.Rainbow Ranch so weighed the options and Both Sawmill and The Woods saw up-in 2004 decided to buy it. swings in visitors in 2020 due to the COVIDThe park is open all year and is equally pandemic.Many New York City people whodistant from Dallas, HoustonandAustin,attractingguests primarily from Texas,OklahomaandLouisiana.Eighty of the 150 RV sitesareleasedonamonthlybasis, and there are alsoeightcabins,afour-bed-room house and tent sitesavailable for rent. Its thelargest gay campground inTexas and enjoys 100% oc-cupancy on holiday week-ends.Unlike The Woods, Rain-bow Ranch attracts womencampers as well as men about a 50-50 split. But likeTheWoods,Bradrecog-nizesthatitstheparkseventsthatattractcus-tomers.Straightcamp-groundscanpullfromatravelingaudience.Wedont. They dont have to beas event oriented as we are.We need to draw our cus-tomers to our events, hesaid. Were working withonly one tenth of the popu-lation.Accordingly, the park of- LGBTQ-focused parks offer a place for the LGBTQ crowd to feelfersbothmensand comfortable while enjoying camping. womensweekends,poolparties and themed weekends such as Drag normally go to Fire Island during the summerBingo,Luaus,MardiGrasandChili couldnt go this year because things wereCookoff/Ho Down Weekends. They celebrate shut down there, said Gremling. They foundmany holidays such as Easter, Memorial Day, us online, and they came. Likewise, PamplinLabor Day, Halloween, New Years and Fourth believes Sawmill attracted many new guestsof July, complete with a fireworks show. during the past year because the precautionsMany of the weekend events include families they had put in place they were perceived aswithchildren;somedonot.Someare a safer option. Ironically, Narsavage ob-womens weekends, while some are exclu- served, some New York people came andsively for men. If we have events planned stayed in cabins last year and it really ex-which are not oriented towards kids, we let panded their view of what a campground is.people know ahead of time, said Brad. We We got an influx of people who dont normallytry to be all inclusive. camp, and they didnt feel like they wereSawmill RV Resortin Dade City, Fla., bills roughing it. It will be interesting to see whatitself as the premier gay and lesbian commu- happens this year.WCM28 -March 2021 Woodalls Campground Management'