With recent spikes in Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the United States, a real monkey wrench has been thrown into what was supposed to be a phased, well-planned rollout regarding dining, travelling, and as it pertains to this blog, camping.
Many scheduled openings have turned into hasty retreats as the number of confirmed cases has risen. Therefore, it’s vital during the summer months keep a myriad of factors in mind, before, during and after venturing out to camp.
- Make reservations – The days of pulling into a random KOA when you are tired of driving are over. This is where planning, checking and re-checking to make sure that the campground you will be visiting on your way to another destination is open and ready to accommodate you. Check websites and make phone calls to make sure that everything is status quo. It also doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, especially if you are making multiple stops.
- Know that the best-laid plans can swiftly go awry – Here’s an example – On June 23, according to the Associated Press, after a limited opening in June, Yosemite National Park closed its parks for the entire month of July after a spike in infections in the state of California.
- Measure the potential consequences of travel – There are several municipalities that are strongly suggesting, or mandating a 14-day quarantine for people who have visited beaches or tourist attractions that have been identified as places where the virus is spreading rapidly. Recently, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, eastern Virginia and West Virginia officials have acknowledged that a large number of people have contracted the virus after visits to South Carolina beaches, in particular, Myrtle Beach. Palmetto State health officials advised that anyone who has been to the beach recently get tested for the virus.
- Make sure what “open” means in terms of camping – Many state or federal campgrounds are defining the number of services that will be provided during the Covid era. Take, for example, 11 Oregon state parks are technically open, but with the following restrictions: camping spots are reservation-only, yurts and cabins remain closed, and many of the usual gathering spots are shuttered, including playgrounds, group campsites, restrooms, beaches and picnic shelters.
- Make sure you are comfortable with your camping situation – no matter how many measures a campground or state park has purported to have put into place to ensure social distancing, you may find that upon arrival, not it’s not all being enforced. Several areas have advised people to “turn around if crowded” in public areas.
- Follow the rules – A Google search of the state-by-state rules for camping will reveal an incredible array of different regulations. In Ohio, non-campers are banned from visiting campsites, and the number of campers on one site is limited to 10 people. Campers must sign an agreement that they will follow guest safety rules, and if they don’t, they will be asked to leave without a refund. There will also be different regulations regarding public and private campgrounds throughout the United States.
- Make sure everyone in your party is aware of your policies when it comes to interacting with others – Camping inherently is a social activity, but in the Covid era, the rules have changed. Your idea of safe social distancing will likely be different than that of your neighbors. Making sure everyone in your party agrees about acceptable behavior will make the experience much more pleasant for everyone.
- Make and enforce sanitation rules within the campsite area, especially if you are camping with those outside your family – establish protocols for cleaning shared appliances, showers and bathrooms and make sure they are being followed.
- Monitor your health – no matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that you or your camping party has been exposed to the coronavirus. Be ultra-vigilant, especially in the two weeks after you return from a camping expedition.
- Be prepared for the worst – If you discover that you have been exposed to, or contracted the virus, communicate with those with whom you were travelling, report exposure to the proper authorities, and seek appropriate treatment, based on your health status.
- Learn from your experience – think about the elements of the trip were successful and those that weren’t. Solicit feedback from your camping buddies about how you can ensure a safe and rewarding experience for future expeditions