Provincial and private campgrounds reopen for first weekend of the season

With parks now open, camping will look different this year, but campground owner Amy Wheeler says it won't dampen what's already shaping up to be a good season.

Provincial campgrounds opened Friday for day use

Square Pond RV Park outside of Gambo is finally reopening for the summer, with owner Amy Wheeler excited to see returning faces early on in the season. (Submitted by Amy Wheeler)

Although it's starting later than usual, campers and campground owners are finally able to kick off the new season.

Moving to Alert Level 3 allows both provincial and private campgrounds to open up with restrictions, with many private parks opening Monday. Day use is permitted, with overnight camping limited to RVs or cabins with their own water supply and washrooms. Overnight tenting will be allowed in Level 2.

This weekend is the first that provincial parks have been allowed to open for day use this year, as the season was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the provincial government, overnight camping at 13 of the province's provincial park campgrounds will be permitted on Friday.

In a news release, government said checkpoints and park dumping stations will be open, but playgrounds, equipment rentals and comfort stations will remain closed. Outhouses will be open for day use.

Premier Dwight Ball even encouraged people to consider going camping during Friday's provincial briefing.

Amy Wheeler, owner of Square Pond RV Park outside Gambo, says she was thrilled to have campers back at her park this week.

"It just brought tears to our eyes to see them coming back, because we didn't think we were going to see a lot of these people this year," Wheeler told CBC Newfoundland Morning on Friday.

"Just seeing all their faces, it just melts our hearts."

Uptick in staycations

After reservations opened up last Thursday, Wheeler said things have gotten off to a great start in the first few days of opening.

"[Things are] awesome," she said. "We started on Monday … and the reservations have been great this past week. Even into the summer, we've noticed an increase in our reservations, I guess probably due to people doing the staycations."

Leading up to Level 3, Wheeler said, she was unsure how the campground would be able to open.

"It was hard on the nerves," she said. 

"But it seemed like each week leading up to opening day, a few more measures got relaxed which actually made us a little more relaxed."

Just to see their faces will do them a world of good.- Amy Wheeler

Wheeler said things around the campground will look different this year. Physical distancing is being enforced, and the playground has closed structures like playgrounds and washroom facilities. Trails in the area are also being made one way.

Wheeler said the changes won't get in the way of what is already shaping up to be a good season.

Camping is only allowed if campers use an RV or cabin. Tenting will be allowed in Alert Level 2. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

"It's going to be a different year, but I think everyone is just excited to be able to get out to their camper and enjoy the outdoors," she said.

Wheeler said another difference will come in the social aspect of camping, but says seeing people come into the park has been a morale boost for everybody.

"It's good for your mental health," she said. "Just being outside in the fresh air and seeing people around, even if it's just going for a walk … just to see their faces will do them a world of good."

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Alex Kennedy


Alex Kennedy is a digital reporter with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador based in Corner Brook. He previously worked with CBC N.L. in St. John's, and has a particular interest in stories about sports and interesting people.

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning