For the Bortle family, taking a vacation at Delta Lake State Park in the town of Western, N.Y., is tradition.
But Rome resident Amanda Bortle said they can’t help but reap the financial benefits, as well, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reported.
“We do local camping to save on gas,” she said.
Officials and campground owners point to the warm, dry summer and the ever-struggling economy for reasons why camping thrives in the area, and this year, state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Spokesman Dan Keefe said camping reservations are up 5 percent from last year.
“The economy is still tough, so people are looking for affordable options, and our state parks provide that,” Keefe said. “It’s a timeless thing to do in the summer.”
Both Delta Lake and Verona Beach State Park numbers for reserved nights were up, 574 and 126, Keefe said.
Happy camp owners
Mike Papp, chairman of Campground Owners of New York (CONY) and owner of West Canada Creek Campsites in Poland, said across the state campground attendance has increased.
Along with great weather and a goal to save money, Papp said more amenities at campgrounds have made camping more attractive.
“In the old days, if you had a swimming pool you were on top of the game,” he said. “Now it’s Wi-Fi, bounce pillows, splash parks. It’s a lot more than just camping and a pool.”
At the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) campground in Herkimer, owner Rene Scialdo Shevat said they have lodging on the property so new campers can test the waters.
“The camping experience is much more upgraded because they don’t have to worry about packing all the essentials,” she said, noting for the last 20 consecutive years attendance has been up.
Annette Decker, employee at Singing Waters Campground outside of Old Forge on Route 28, said this August has probably been one of the busiest.
“It’s more economical than going down to the shore,” she said. “We have activities that cost nothing, and that’s the big perk.”
Decker said tubing on the Moose River is free and keeps kids occupied all day.
More than one benefit
Rome resident Terri McMahon said camping is more affordable than other vacations and allows her family to connect more.
McMahon, who was visiting Delta Lake State Park on Aug. 16, said camping every summer is their main vacation.
“You can go to several different destinations for the price of going to one place,” she said. “Just this summer alone we’ve been able to go to five different spots.”
When McMahon was a kid, she didn’t camp, but now with a 15-year-old son of her own, she and her husband — who grew up camping — wanted him to have that experience.
“In my opinion, it brings a family together,” she said.
Papp confirmed that those who camped when they were younger want to share the experience later in life with their children.
“It kind of brings them back home,” he said.