Reopening Campgrounds

12:01 am. Friday. June 12th. COVID-19 is inherently risky at 11:59 pm on Thursday, June 11th. But, only a few minutes later, the risk of the virus magically goes down as Ontario enters stage 2 of reopening.

At this point, I really do not know what to think about our response to COVID-19. Was it a massive over-reaction by government? Fear stoked to an extreme by reckless media? An incredible collective effort to flatten the curve and hopefully prevent needless death and suffering?

Doesn’t matter.

We did our part and we will continue to do our part. COVID-19 remains a stranger and a fiend. A stranger in that not a single person in my sphere of contact has been infected by COVID-19. A fiend in that COVID-19 has had a remarkable and direct impact on daily life.

Life is slowly beginning to return to what was once considered normal. You know, like getting a haircut or going out to the mall.

The government of Ontario made this announcement last week:

Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

Private campgrounds can now open to guests. Full-timers have been permitted since the early days of the lockdown, then seasonal guests and now the week-enders and vacationers.

But what will it look like when things reopen at private campgrounds?

Still not quite sure. But here is what our park is telling their guests:

The directives provided by the Simcoe County Muskoka Health Department and the Township of Springwater include closing all common areas including restrooms, pools, playground, benches, and recreation buildings, jumping pillow, mining centre and other recreational amenities. All tent sites and basic camping cabins are currently closed; the store/office building is closed to customer access and will allow for curbside check-in and purchases. Laundry facilities will be open with limited hours and availability as only one family can access it at a time.

The full set of safety guidelines for our park:

1. All common areas will be closed including restrooms, pools, playgrounds, benches, and recreation buildings, jumping pillow, mining centre and other recreational amenities etc., with proper signage to ensure compliance.

2. Prepaid or curbside check in with full payments will be offered to eliminate the need to come into the office to register;
– An office staff member will call you the morning of your arrival if you would like to pre-register.
– If we are unable to connect over the phone before you arrive, curbside check in will be available. Please stay in your vehicle until the registration window is clear.
– Payment of registration fees can be handled electronically either prior to arrival or during registration.
– Visa, MasterCard are preferred method of payments. Debit is not available at this time.

3. The store/office building will be open for curbside access;
– Registration window is available for your convenience. There will be allowances for social distancing.
– This is also where store purchases and BUSTERS orders will be placed.

4. Access to the campground will be limited to registered guests only.
– NO VISITORS are allowed in the campground at this time. Prohibit outside visitors from coming on the property.

5. Restricted or limited access to Laundry room facilities;
– Initially, one family at a time will be permitted on a scheduled basis. This will allow for proper cleaning.
– If laundry time is needed a signup sheet with be available at the office.

6. Garbage pick-up will be done at 12pm daily.
– All garbage and recycling must be bagged and left at the end of the site for pick up. No loose items or bins.
– Please do not leave garbage out prior to, or beyond the noon pick up time.

7. Drop station for no-contact deliveries i.e. groceries, will be provided;
– Contactless deliveries – Deck/storage box for express package delivery and delivered groceries will be provided and placed near the office entrance.

8. Posted signs urging campers to practice social distancing while on property;

9. Limited hosted entertainment and recreational activities;
– Activity packages will be available upon arrival.
– The use of basketball nets, horseshoe pits as well as volleyball nets will be available with use of your own equipment.
– The duck hunt will go on!

10. Follow any and all mandates and guidelines;

11. Enjoy the great outdoors but please be responsible!

Our park is really two parks. A family campground at one end separated by roughly 1 kilometre to an adult park at the other end. That separation makes a huge difference in terms of the experience. The adult park is quiet and calm. The family campground, as you might expect, is very active and perhaps a tad louder, especially on week-ends. The sites in the adult park are well spaced. The sites in the family campground are tight.

I’m not sure how social distancing will be enforced up in the family campground. The experience will be dramatically different for those guests, especially for their children.

I expect the park WiFi to become totally saturated if the family campground opens up to full capacity. With all of the common areas closed and with all of the restrictions on social distancing, people will likely spend a lot more time online. Anyone trying to use the park WiFi during the peak will likely need to say good-bye to the Internet.

Reservations for the family campground start next Wednesday.

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