Hot summer days are filling up beaches, parks, pools and campgrounds across St. Lawrence County in northern New York state.
Friends Jessica L. Young and Shannon M. Prevost, both from Ottawa, Ontario, brought their children to camp at Coles Creek State Park, Waddington, where they enjoyed swimming in the St. Lawrence River, the Watertown Daily Times reported.
“It’s cheaper camping down here than it is in Ontario,” Prevost said. “The weather is beautiful, so I can’t complain.”
Plenty of others had the same idea. Prevost and Young picked Coles Creek in part because it was one of the only campgrounds in the area with any vacancies.
“We’ve had a good season so far, right from the start,” said Loretta E. Castagnier, bookkeeper at Coles Creek.
The park has been booked nearly to capacity since it opened May 11. Despite the staff buying extra ice and ice cream to meet increased demand, supplies still are running low.
“We just can’t keep up with it,” Castagnier said.
The increased number of campers continues a trend from last season, said Michael J. O’Neil, director of Lisbon Campground. Despite a rainy summer in 2011, the campground had above-average occupancy. This year, the numbers are even higher.
“We were up last year, but we’re up a little bit from last year,” O’Neil said.
Normally, 90 percent of campsites are filled during the summer, he said. This year, the camp has spent most weeks near maximum capacity.
More guests mean more revenue, but they also bring extra challenges. Burnt grass might make mowing unnecessary, O’Neil said, but bathrooms have to be cleaned every hour.
Lisbon Campground has had to hire more people, especially lifeguards, to meet increased needs. The campground employs about 50 people, most of whom work part time.
Campers using plenty of air-conditioning has not been a problem, O’Neil said, because the campground upgraded its power grid last year.
The campground will break ground on new sites in September to have them ready for next season.
Coles Creek State Park employs about 20 people. “We’re pretty efficient here; we’ve got some good help,” Castagnier said.
Beaches and pools are prime destinations for those looking to beat the heat.
At Lisbon Campground, up to five lifeguards are on duty at a time during busy periods. The beach’s closing time has been extended to 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
“Our beach has been crowded, but it hasn’t been overcrowded,” O’Neil said.
The week of Independence Day is one of the busiest for campgrounds, but other busy periods, such as Labor Day and homecoming, are still to come.