CINCINNATI — For anyone looking for a safe way to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, camping certainly checks all the boxes.
“It’s fun. It’s family-friendly. You can absolutely social distance,” said Lebanon Cincinnati Northeast KOA owner Sarah Anglin. “It’s your own bed, your own linens.”
Anglin said it’s not just holiday weekends that have seen an uptick in business. Campers have been flocking to the outdoors since Ohio campgrounds were allowed to reopen in May.
“As soon as those orders were lifted, people were itching to get out and about,” she said. “They were getting those campers out of storage and camping immediately.”
The desire to get outside has driven up bookings for KOA, plus for other local sites like Winton Woods and campgrounds at Great Parks of Hamilton County. All are totally full this holiday weekend.
“There’s not a lot for people to do, and while people are working from home, they want to spend time outside and get out of their house and their neighborhoods," said Great Parks chief of guest experiences Rachel Messerschmitt. “So we have seen a very large increase.”
Although they're outdoors and naturally socially distanced, campgrounds can’t escape some COVID-19 restrictions and changes. The state of Ohio requires campgrounds to allow just one family per campsite, enforce social distancing, and use Plexiglas shields and masks when possible to help prevent the spread of germs.
The state also recommends cleaning shared spaces like bathhouses and restrooms often with EPA-approved cleaners. Campground stores where people buy essentials such as firewood and bug spray are also limiting the amount of customers inside the store at one time.
“We do have the hand sanitizer that we encourage everyone to use on the way in and the way out," Anglin said. “Obviously social distancing while you are shopping. Trying not to touch things that you’re not intending to buy.”
Messerschmitt said at Great Parks, bathhouses and restrooms are being cleaned a minimum of three times a day. Staff will clean even more frequently during the busy Fourth of July weekend.
People who don’t have a tent or camper but still want to get outside have the option to rent cabins at many state parks and campgrounds as well, provided they’re not already booked up.
“If you do choose to rent a cabin from us, we are taking every precaution to make sure it is clean and sanitized and ready for you and your family,” Anglin said.
She said some of the big gatherings that would normally take place at KOA have been scaled back because of safety concerns, but that hasn’t stopped her from connecting with the campers during Saturday happy hours and hopping on a golf cart to deliver treats to the guests.
“We’re not allowed to do the group activities like we normally would, so we’ve come up with some creative things that we can still do,” Anglin said.
See below for campground guidelines in the Tri-State: