Pennsylvania Camping Gets a Makeover

Gone are the days when a camping trip meant roughing it. Bye-bye leaky tents. Sayonara sleeping bags. Today's campgrounds offer a variety of affordable ways to stay and provide enough amenities and activities to make you never want to leave.

Yes, Pennsylvania campgrounds still supply the back-to-nature experience that many travelers are seeking, says Beverly Gruber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA). There's an easy camaraderie among campers and an urge to leave behind the stressors of everyday life. But that doesn't mean abandoning conveniences and settling for ho-hum escape.

The 236 members of the PCOA boast some 42,000 campsites among their properties. This includes spots for traditional tent camping as well as spots for RVs, fifth-wheel campers, and pop-up trailers. Increasingly, however, these campgrounds are also offering cabin rentals. Gruber says 80 percent of her members offer budget-friendly cabin getaways, from single-room, bare-bones cabins to luxury rentals with full-service kitchens, full bathrooms, and a master bedroom. At Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest, north of Pittsburgh, owner Gary Quigley is adding two cabins to keep up with demand.

There has been an intense focus on creating ultimate family getaways, and the addition of activities and other amenities lends a resort-like feel to Pennsylvania's campgrounds. The new dog park at Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest has been a huge success among campers who can also take part in the park's ceramics classes, wagon and fire truck rides, hiking trails, mining sluice and

–no joke

–chocolate Slip 'N Slide.

At Buttonwood Campground in the Juniata River Valley, families can walk out of their deluxe cabin (complete with satellite television and air conditioning) to the heated pool, a game of mini golf or laser tag, or a gem-mining adventure. Ryan McFarland, whose family owns the campground, says, "We're basically building our own amusement park." A new Water Wars attraction is being added this summer.

These investments in customer service and family fun haven't been ignored. The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds named both Buttonwood and Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest "Parks of the Year."

As you make summer travel plans, remember that themed weekend events and all activities at the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association properties are included in the price of a campsite or cabin rental, making a campground getaway a very economical trip. Not to mention, one of the best for making memories.

See you 'round the campfire!

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