By Andrea McHugh, Broadry
Three years ago, the U.S. Senate officially designated June as Great Outdoors Month. Today, we celebrate all of the exceptional benefits of basking in the fresh air, hitting the trails, embarking on adventures including mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, exploring the country’s natural wonders including the majestic National Parks, and perhaps best of all outdoor exploits: camping.
Though camping is an age-old activity, it picked up steam in America during the early part of the 20th century. The Boy Scouts of America was established in 1910 closely followed by the first Girl Scout troop emerging less than two years later. These two leading youth organizations propelled the popularity of camping, which only grew when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service in 1916 (Yellowstone became the first national park 44 years earlier followed by others, but the act centralized management of the country’s federal parklands, ensuring their protection indefinitely).
More recently, family camping has become more popular than ever. Statistics have shown the increase in the number of campers and camp reservations has been exponential, with the pandemic only boosting those figures as many travelers traded hotel rooms for tents and RVs over the past two years.
There are also the many proven health benefits of camping. Immersing yourself in the great outdoors allows you to digitally detox, reconnect with nature, spend undistracted time with family and friends to build more meaningful bonds, create memories, develop new skills and of course, increase one’s physical fitness.
We’ve rounded up a half dozen spectacular campgrounds for families from coast to coast:
Grey’s Point Camp, Topping, VA
Nestled on the banks of Virginia’s beautiful Rappahannock River, the eastern USA’s longest free-flowing river, Grey’s Point Camp is a family favorite due in large part to its sprawling water park featuring two groovy enclosed water slides and a splash pad, a charming train that travels throughout the property and a well maintained, modern playground.
Families can also safely enjoy paddle boats or a riveting game of corn hole. With manicured grounds, scenic paths and multiple picnic pavilions, Grey’s Point invites you to enjoy the fresh air all day long. For boaters, ample slips await and are easy to book in advance. Dine on the dockside deck or dance the night away on live music nights.
Discover why Topping is considered the home of the Virginia Oyster Resurgence with a visit to the Rappahannock Oyster Company, an oyster nursery where you can learn about local aquaculture – and if you dare, savor one (or a dozen) of these little briny bivalves with a dash of lemon juice or mignonette.
Drummer Boy Camping Resort, Gettysburg, PA
History is all around at this comfortable camping resort surrounded by 95 acres of peaceful woodlands where more than 150 years ago, the nation saw one of its goriest battles which would prove to be a turning point in the Civil War. Although Drummer Boy Camping Resort features more than 400 sites available for seasonal and vacation rentals in addition to cabins, and cottages, the resort feels intimate, easily navigable and welcoming.
The grotto-esque swimming pool is a welcome respite in summer heat and for the kids, a water slide that winds under the treetops awaits. There is no shortage of activity-packed themed weekends, from the Fourth of July Jam to Harry Potter Weekend to Wild Wild West Weekend, there’s something for everyone.
Easily explore downtown Gettysburg and take a battlefield tour or ghost walk to get a better sense of this historic, charming quintessentially American town.
Fremont Jellystone Park, Fremont, WI
“Hey Boo Boo, let’s go get us a pic-a-nic basket!” Welcome to Yogi Bear’s famous destination. Fremont Jellystone Park is a family favorite with miniature golf course, water slide, a jump pad inflatable, game room, gem mining, arts and crafts center, horseshoes, a playground, and a sports area with basketball, bocci ball, shuffleboard and a volleyball court.
Choose from a variety of cabins and cottages for rent, all featuring covered porches, camp style beds, TV, electricity, a/c, picnic tables and a fire ring – so bring your own ingredients for s’mores!
Fremont Jellystone Park is located on the stunning shores of Partridge Lake which adjoins the famous Wolf River, one of the two National Scenic Rivers in Wisconsin and best known for its extraordinary fishing. It’s why Fremont is known as the “White Bass Capital of the World.” Fremont Jellystone Park has its own bait and tackle shop on site so you can easily fish on shore or rent a paddle boat, canoe or kayak. Families might also venture out on the water on a rented pontoon or jon boat.
And yes, Yogi Bear can easily be found on site. Hide your pic-a-nic baskets!
O’Connell’s Yogi Bear Park, Amboy, IL
Just 90 miles west of Chicago and 80 miles east of the Quad Cities, O’Connell’s Yogi Bear Park RV Resort continues to draw families to Illinois’s Sauk Valley on the Rock River for its relaxing outdoors and ample activities. Three pools, two water slides, sing-a-long hayrides, candy bar bingo, arts and crafts, weekly dances, a children’s program, ceramics, nightly outdoor movies, and sports including soccer and volleyball – there’s something for everybody.
Families can enjoy some friendly competition on the miniature golf course or rent paddle boats for a gentle cruise on Yogi Bear Lake. Bring your camera to snap pics of the kids with Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, and Cindy Bear, who roam around different areas of the park, then rest, relax, and recharge in your RV or cozy rental cottage.
Mt. Hood Village, Welches, OR
Known throughout the industry as the premier RV park in the Northwest, Mt. Hood Village is an outdoor lover’s dream. In addition to more than 300 wooded RV sites, the resort offers a variety of guest accommodations including standard cabins and contemporary, minimally modern tiny houses ranging from 178 square feet (sleeps three) to 332 square feet (sleeps seven). There are also yurts for rent, including one designed to accommodate two and another that sleeps five.
Tucked into the forest under the gaze of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, families can embrace their inner adventurist at Mt. Hood National Forest. Try rock climbing, mountain biking, or fishing; mellow out with a game of golf, explore lakes and streams, choose from more than 700 groomed hiking trails or get your thrills on at the Mt. Hood Skibowl, the Pacific Northwest’s only half-mile dual Alpine slide where you’ll drop 350 feet as you wind your way down the mountainside track.
Tahoe Valley Campground, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Sunny shores and snowy summits: welcome to exquisite Tahoe Valley Campground in South Lake Tahoe, California. Whether you prefer the luxuries of an RV, a rustic cottage nestled among the tall pines, or a cozy cottage with breathtaking snowy mountain vistas, this bucolic resort is ideal for a multi-generational family retreat, a girlfriends’ getaway, or romantic rendezvous for two.
From pickleball to picnicking, this pet friendly campground (check out the dog park!) has no shortage of fun happenings. Volleyball, basketball, tetherball, tennis, ping pong and fishing are just some of the recreational offerings, and this time of year, the swimming pool is a refreshing escape. Pancake breakfasts and ice cream socials are also a great way for families to meet and have fun, or you can pick out your favorite songs for a rousing round of karaoke.
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