COVID-19 has created mass uncertainty around the world, and it made no exception for Hipcamp Hosts, many of whom temporarily shut down their campgrounds due to travel restrictions and safety orders. Some savvy Hosts decided to put this time to good use by making upgrades, building new sites, and improving their facilities for future safe Hipcamping.
Now that many of our Hosts have committed to our COVID-19 Safety Standards and getting outside has proven to be a low-risk activity, this has become the summer of outdoor adventure. Hipcampers are spending time outside while staying safe, healthy, and—at these spruced-up Hipcamps—more comfortable.
From new beaches to outdoor kitchens and private bathrooms, here are some of the (mostly) DIY improvements Hosts have made to their Hipcamp properties while sheltering in place.
When Jason began hosting Hipcampers at his 500 Waves beach camp, a simple portable toilet met his needs. But interest in his rural region has since grown, with more and more Hipcampers now using his land as a basecamp to explore the Llano River and nearby trails. “As visitation to 500 Waves Beach Camp has increased, we hoped to provide our Hipcampers with a more comfortable bathroom experience.”
After reviewing DIY options and settling on a modern outhouse design from Dwell Magazine, Jason and his son set out to build a standalone bathroom that would work with their existing septic system.
The timing worked well—in order to protect his small community from COVID-19, Jason had canceled all reservations and closed the beach camp for about six weeks in March and April. This downtime allowed him and his son to complete the most disruptive parts of his project, digging post holes and constructing the frame and walls. The bathhouse turned out just as he wanted. “The goal was to create a visually appealing exterior and an interior that gives the Hipcamper the experience of entering a time machine,” Jason said. “Outside, it’s 2020 Texas with a modern edge. Open the door and step into mid-century 1972 Florida.”
Hipcamp Host Tiffany B. and her husband began building their energy-independent property in 2019, first starting with a fishing dock, a cabin, and a well with a solar-powered pump.
“I am an avid outdoors-woman and it has been my dream to create the perfect getaway in my most treasured spot on earth—this is it!”
This summer, she made under-the-radar upgrades, building a composting toilet and improving driveway drainage. Then, she moved to creature comforts, adding new picnic tables, a camp kitchen, and a freshly laid beach. Bonus points: TripleThreatFarm also planted butterfly-attracting lantana and satsuma mandarin trees for fresh fruit. “I’m lucky enough to get to share my slice of paradise with folks who appreciate the peace and solitude of nature.”
Rich has been busy at his Hudson Valley campground this year. Since seeing an increase in demand, he recently added three bathrooms with hot showers for a total of four, a full bathhouse with storage, and three solar-powered retro campers. He also offers a cottage stay, a glamping tent, and 12 tent campsites surrounded by 40 acres of streams, wetlands, and forests to explore.
“The process was a little more difficult than usual because of slowdowns caused by the virus,” he said. “I used the downtime to keep my employees from my construction company busy and avoided any layoffs.”
Hipcamp Host Andrey always knew that his Cacapon River property was ideal for camping, but given the little traffic in his area, the sites didn’t start attracting visitors until they were listed on Hipcamp. “Hipcamp brought us the marketing channel we were missing all this time,” he said.
When Andrey first opened the campground, he bought a bathhouse trailer to serve as semi-public restrooms used by campers, visiting boaters, and patrons of his nearby store.
Following a coronavirus closure, Andrey wanted to reopen with a safer, cleaner bathroom option, one that paired well with the privacy his sites provide. He then decided to convert the trailer bathhouse to private bathrooms for each campsite. Andrey initially installed traditional door locks, but he quickly converted them to keyless entry to avoid having to issue keys to his Hipcampers and maintain a contactless check-in. “We settled on a Schlage FE575 Keypad Entry with auto lock, plus added a deadbolt with an ‘in use/available’ indicator,” he said.
After closing their tent sites and cabin per government orders in April, Hosts Carol-anne and Lyn reopened to find “an explosion” of campers visiting their “little Texas Hill Country hideout” in May. Even with all the bookings, they’ve still found time to make upgrades, including wrapping up a longtime goal of bringing power and water lines to their riverside tent sites.
Then, when they had to cancel their annual Boulderdash Bash family gathering in June, the time was used to build an outdoor kitchen. “Due to the stay-at-home orders, our usual friends stayed home, and so that gave us a few extra days to get some work done,” Carol-anne said. “I just want the kitchen to be a shady place for our campers to hang out, charge their phones, maybe make a margarita, do some dishes.”
The two are essential workers—one in the Army and other working as an emergency room nurse—so they manage the Boulderdash property remotely with the help of work campers who live onsite full-time and are still dreaming up more ideas for expansion. Next on the list: paving a few RV sites; building a combination barn, shop, bathroom, and laundry facility; and making over an old RV called “Stella” to also be rented out.
Nancy and Terry went DIY for their recent upgrades, starting in January to add full RV septic hookups. “The process was time-consuming,” she said. “Luckily my wonderful partner has experience as he has done this before.”
The work was all done underground so the sites don’t look very different, but the option for full hookups is always a plus with RV campers. Next, the Hosts are planning to add a full bathroom with a shower for tent campers, as well as a deck for visitors to enjoy the Florida peace and nature.
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