Private campgrounds navigate COVID-19 orders

Michigan News

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Private campground owners say they have been flooded with calls from people interested in camping on their property.

The inquiries come as state park campgrounds remain closed through June 21. Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, citizens are allowed to travel between homes. The order does not allow “recreational camping.”

The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds says this means private campgrounds can only take seasonal campers. Campers who use private campgrounds as second homes are the only people allowed to use the campsites.

“This is a frustrating time for us here at Baldwin Oaks with all the COVID stuff that’s going on but we’re doing the best we can,” said Dan Bazan, owner of Baldwin Oaks Campground.

The campground has been in Hudsonville for 40 years. Bazan took ownership of the property four years ago. He says this year he turned away around 100 people interested in daily camping or staying for short periods of time.

“You can go golfing, but you can’t go camping. I mean you can see how someone could be 6 foot in distance,” said Bazan as he pointed to the area where daily campers usually are. “Some of the rules are kind of ridiculous and they need to be looked at.”

Bazan says the area where daily campers’ tents are normally housed would be about 75% full by this time of year. He says the stay home order has cost him business.

Private campgrounds in neighboring Ottawa County were not allowed to have seasonal campers until Thursday morning.

“They pay personal property tax, they pay school tax. We classify it as their summer home, but Ottawa County did not read it that way,” said Betty Vanden Berg, owner of Oak Grove Resort and Campground in Holland.

Vanden Berg says they were set to open on April 24 but have sat idle as they waited for county approval despite executive orders.

After receiving county approval, Oak Grove Resort alerted customers they would be opening immediately with a few restrictions.

“They have been calling for the last three weeks, so I’m sure they will be on their way,” said Vanden Berg of her excited campers.

The owners say given the virus, they’ll be closing their pools, not operating playgrounds and doing additional cleanings of their facilities.

“I don’t think anything will go back to normal. I think there will have to be some different rules and regular for how we do things and we’ll adapt to whatever to adhere to the social distancing rules,” Bazan said.

The campground owners say they hope after the stay at home orders are lifted and things are safe, their customers can resume normal summer camping.

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