At the Battlefield KOA Campground here, you can catch up on e-mail at your campsite, take in an outdoor movie on a 9-foot inflatable movie screen, lounge by the pool, play a round of mini golf or try your hand at Extreme Hunting
, one of the arcade games in the game room. There's live music on Saturday night and pancake breakfasts on weekend mornings, and if you don't feel like cooking, you can have dinner delivered to your RV door, tent flap, or what-have-you.
Heck, you don't even have to really camp at this wooded 25-acre site, thanks to its growing inventory of air-conditioned cabins, cottages and lodges essentially, tricked-out trailers done up to look like hand-hewn log dwellings. And with modern amenities like wireless internet and movies under the stars this is luxury camping.
"So much for getting away from it all," owner John Bergeron says with a laugh.
But getting away they are. By many accounts, business is brisk this summer at campgrounds nationwide. The sinking economy may have put the brakes on taking the Grand Tour, but many Americans still want to get away. And with relatively low gas prices, more people are pulling into campgrounds.
KOA Kampgrounds of America, a network of 460 commercial campgrounds, reports a 5% increase in June occupancy. REI, an outdoor-gear chain, says sales of family tents were up 17% in June over last year. The retailer also saw double-digit increases in sales of related products, such as air mattresses and campground stoves.
People are returning to simpler lifestyles the вЂless is more' ethic, says the foundation's Christine Fanning, And everyone is searching for vacations that fit with today's economy.
As in other segments of the travel industry, campers are staying closer to home, but they're also staying away longer. At KOA campgrounds, for instance, average stays are 2.5 nights, up from 1.7 nights three years ago.
Today's campgrounds are not necessarily like the ones you might remember as a kid. Food delivery, concierge service and skate parks are among innovative additions at some private facilities. At Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, Calif., the alder-smoked salmon served at the park's restaurant has won prizes in several competitions. And many KOA's across the country have purchased large, inflatable movie screens in order to show outdoor movies for their guests bringing urban entertainment to the outdoors. Many KOA campers have mentioned enjoying films they might have seen at home, but under the stars, in a rustic environment.
At Yogi Bear's Jellystone Camp Resort & Water Playground in Wisconsin Dells, owner Brent Gasser has gradually expanded what began as a campground with basic tent sites to a "camp resort" with a four-level water playground, boat and golf cart rentals, themed weekends (think Christmas in July), and 51 rental units that go from $39 to $299 a night.
"The traditional camper has been requesting more and more accommodations that they'd find in a hotel," Gasser says. "And since we're in an area with many hotels, we have to compete."
What many campground denizens say they do
like is the camaraderie of the camp. KOA president Jim Rogers calls campgrounds "the last small town in America. They're a live community, a social beehive. You're interacting with strangers and allowing your kids to."
"A woman stepped onto our site to avoid a passing car last night and ended up staying until midnight," says Lynn Boozel, a camper at the KOA in Gettysburg. Boozel and his wife, Rhonda, of McVeytown, Pa., are wrapping up their seventh annual week-long visit here. "We came for a weekend and got hooked," Boozel says.
The couple, with their two young daughters and a granddaughter, are sleeping in a six-person tent, which puts them in the minority among the Hitchhikers, Wolf Packs and other RV models that occupy most of the sites.
Across the way, Valerie and Bill Stack of Donora, Pa., have just arrived in their Ford pickup pulling a 12,000 pound, 38-foot trailer. This is one of five trips they'll make here this summer.
"Once you're addicted to this, you can't stay home," Bill Stack says. "You come back and say, 'Boy, did I have a great time,' and they ask, 'What did you do?' and you say, 'Nothing.' "
The trailer has a gas fireplace, queen-size bed and flat-screen TV, among other amenities. They'll spend the weekend swimming in the pool and maybe play some putt-putt golf.
"But we're here for nature," Valerie Stack says. "If I lost everything tomorrow, I'd go out and buy a tent."
Source: "Campers don't have to sacrifice the creature comforts" by Jayne Clark -USA Today. Read full article at: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2009-07-09-camping-revival_N.htm