Photo_News_SeniorLiving_Camping_Blue Ridge hikers.jpeg

Blue Mountain Hiking Club members: Charles Kackley, founder Andreas Keller, Gary Geibel and John Hagarty enjoying the outdoors. 

You can run, but you can’t hide. Or can you? 

The origin of the time-worn expression dates to 1941, when boxing legend Joe Louis was describing his impending fight with light heavyweight champ Billy Conn. Conn was attempting to become the first light heavyweight champ in history to win a world heavyweight title. 

Regretfully for Conn, he was knocked out in the 13th round. He acquitted himself well enough and avoided the Brown Bomber for most of the fight, but ultimately, he couldn’t hide. 

Today, our silver-haired cohort is running in place, trying to hide from COVID-19 while retaining some semblance of sanity. But playing it safe in the confines of one’s home can grow weary. 

And while things have eased up a bit, fear of public places with multiple faces still dictates caution. Perhaps seniors simply need to open their front doors and breathe deeply, triggering memories from yesteryear. Like camping. 

Camping in well-maintained campgrounds is something even medical professionals are endorsing. They posit that when exercising and recreating outdoors, there is no compelling reason to wear a mask if one is practicing social distancing. 

Dr. Henry Chambers, a professor in the University of California-San Francisco’s Division of Infectious Diseases says, “There is a lot of air space and airflow outside. If you are outdoors and appropriately distanced from other people, then it is highly unlikely you will be exposed.” 

His description defines a campground. 

Camping today encompasses everything from luxurious RVs to simple two-person tents with a table and chairs. Even starting from scratch, primitive camping is not only fun but inexpensive. A tent, sleeping bags, chairs, grill and a portable table can be purchased for less than $400.  

One popular brand of gear marketed by Ozark Trail offers a 22-piece camping outfit for $149. True, it’s not high-end, but it’s satisfactory for occasional outings.    

Area campgrounds 

A quick scan on your favorite search engine will reveal numerous local opportunities to stake a tent and fire up a grill less than an hour from any point in Northern Virginia. 

Venues like: Sky Meadows Campground, Greenville Farm Family Campground, Lake of the Woods Campground, Outlander River Camp, Cedar Mountain Campground and Rappahannock River Campground, to name a handful, are open and providing healthy getaways for seniors and young folks alike.  

Brenda and Edward VanKeuren are the owners of Mountain Lake Campground in Paris, Virginia. The campground has been in operation since the 1960s and personifies "down-home."

The venue is small with a blend of primitive and electric and water sites totaling about 20. 

“Everybody wants to get outdoors today,” said Brenda VanKeuren. “Weekends are our busier times. We don’t offer Wi-Fi, cable TV lines and other fancy stuff. Just camping. What we do have is a lot of peace and quiet.” Campsites cost $25 per night.  

Pam Marcon manages Gooney Creek Campgrounds in Front Royal. There are about 30 sites at the facility, also dating to the 1960s. 

“I cater to tent campers who simply want electricity and water. I’ve been acceptably packed during COVID. People are chomping at the bit to get outdoors and camp. 

“At night I watch all the unhappiness on TV, and then I look out at my campground and I see all my happy campers sitting next to their little happy campfires. My customers are well behaved and always having a great time,” said Marcon. 

She describes her campground as a "landing pad." People arrive, set up their tents, and then head to the river for canoeing or kayaking, or go up to the Shenandoah National Park for hiking. More laid-back pursuits such as antiquing or flea-market shopping are also popular pursuits. 

“What surprises me is I’m finding more local people coming to camp nowadays,” mused Macron. 

Heading south on Route 340 toward Luray is the Shenandoah River State Park located near Bentonville. The park consists of 1,619 acres of recreational opportunities. It has more than 5 miles of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and miles of open and forested hiking trails. 

“Everyone is happy to be out here, and they appreciate us being open," said Tony Widmer, park manager. The park has 11 primitive campsites costing $25 per night and 33 RV sites with water and electrical hookups that run $47.  

“Our overall attendance is much higher than it would normally be. Most weekends, we are full. We have hikers, bikers, horseback riders, river floaters and more. But they spread out nicely, making it safe for everyone," said Widmer. 

“All our staff practices social distancing and wear face masks whenever needed. We disinfect and clean the bathrooms twice a day.” 

The message all area campgrounds are conveying to guests is, “Come. Enjoy. Be safe.”  

Indeed, besides the confines of one’s own home, the great outdoors is where you can run but also hide.  

For more business and wine stories, visit Hagarty-On-Wine.com

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