Locals utilizing campgrounds more often

As the price of gasoline surges well over the $4 per gallon mark, national headlines are dominated with the effects the hit to the wallet is having on summer travel plans. While some families will continue on with plans to travel across the country and destinations beyond, some local businesses are finding their friends and neighbors are enjoying the comfort of accommodations in their own backyard. Debbie Miller, office manager for Lazy Days Campsites, located off U.S. Route 11 in Mooers Forks, said she has seen an increase in the campgrounds business as gas prices have increased in recent years, comprised mainly of people from the surrounding area and neighboring communities. Were seeing a lot of overnight campers, people who have not been in here before, which is good, and our seasonal business has gone up, said Miller. I think the price of gas is helping the camping business because people are wanting to stay closer to home. The campground, which maintains 147 sites, has been booked solid, said Miller. She attributes that to a combination of low rates and amenities offered. We charge $17 a night or $850 for the season, so I think our prices are pretty good. Im sure that helps, said Miller. The ability to offer more than a place to sleep under the stars has also helped the campground stay competitive to the mystique of traveling to far-away destinations, said Miller. Having an on-site swimming pool, miniature golf course, game room and a lending library of books and board games provides visitors with something extra to enjoy their stay, she said. Were very family-oriented. We have lots of different ages who come here from seniors citizens right down to young families, said Miller. We try to do a little bit of everything to accommodate everybody. The same can be said for Twin Ells Campsites on LaPlante Road in West Chazy, which offers similar rates, said operations manager Jackie Wnuk. There, the 220-site campground is seeing an increase in the number of local residents who are occupying the park, taking advantage of their amenities, such as a swimming pool, recreation hall, and playground, as well. Seasonal memberships, in particular, are up, she said. We have a lot of people who live here during the summer and go to work from here, Wnuk said. People want to stay local. The price of gas is most definitely driving this. What has also helped the camping business on the local level has been the strengthening of the Canadian dollar, said Wnuk. The near-even exchange rate between the United States and Canada has brought more nearby Canadians across the border unlike anything that has been seen in recent years, she said. Weve actually gotten a few more Canadians this year, Wnuk said of registering campers. Id say within the past five years, we havent gotten as many. Its been more of an American market. Additionally, the campground has benefitted from its proximity to a wind turbine construction project in the neighboring town of Altona, Wnuk said, as several workers for the project have chosen to stay at Twin Ells. In a recent statement from Gov. David A. Paterson, the governor encouraged New Yorkers to support the ongoing I Love New York tourism campaign by choosing the state as their vacation destination. New York State is spectacular in its beauty and diversity, and there is nothing that vacationers will find elsewhere that they cant find here. We have beaches and mountains, outdoor tranquility and vibrant cities. New York State is a world-class destination spot, Paterson said. Perhaps most importantly, I want our residents to enjoy affordable vacations, and a good way to do that is to stay local and take advantage of excellent travel options that are right in our backyard. Once youre here, youre in a whole new world, Wnuk said of the overall camping experience. If you dont want to be bothered, turn your phone off. Youre close, and youre not spending a lot of money. Its the most economical way to vacation.

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