QUEER CAMPING FOR DUMMIES
IT'S ALL ABOUT MEETING NEW FRIENDS!
WHAT IS QUEER CAMPING?
Well to be honest, there is no such thing as queer camping. But, it's certainly a catchy title isn't it? What I am talking about is a little known place, known as the Gay & Lesbian campground. A place so rare, that even a large number of the gay community doesn't know about them. But, when you do find one of these hidden gems, all you want to do is go back again and again, and even become a lifetime member!
Most people think of camping as rustic. If you are not in the middle of nowhere in a tent, living off the land, hunting, or fishing. You are not a true camper. But, that isn't what a gay campground is about. It's more of a social place, were like minded people can get together, and have fun. Some do come for the solitude, or, to get away from the city. But, most are there to meet, greet, and find a friend, and with luck, maybe even a camping soul mate.
The owners of gay camp grounds don't really like to put themselves into the "camping" category. They like to consider themselves more as a multi-purpose travel destination. Some offer only tenting, and are set in the middle of nowhere in a field, while others are quite elaborate, and offer many different kinds of lodging. Some even offer a permanent site, where you might even be able to live. Some cater only to men. Some are clothing optional. But, there are a few that don't turn away anyone. But most require a membership to camp.
In my experience with being at a gay camp ground, it can be exciting, wild, and frustrating at the same time. The main thing is, to go into gay camping with an open mind. Don't go into it expecting anything, and you may find that you really enjoy it. But, expect too much, and you may end up not impressed, or bored. It really depends on how you think of yourself, and what kind of place you are looking for. If one doesn't work for you, there may be another one that you like better. There are a lot of different types of camp grounds out there. And, if it's not for you. There's always the state park.
POOLS, TENTS & TRAILERS
There are many different types of ways to stay and play at a Gay campground. There are everything from rustic tent sites, to tent sites with electric hook ups. A place where you can set up your pop-up trailer, or pull in those massive RV's. Some campgrounds have permanent sites that require a season rental, which you can call your summer weekend home. Campgrounds may also offer cabins that you can rent, or on site trailers, so that you don't have to bring your own. Some even have a bed and breakfast, or a more permanent shelter you can stay in. There are even some that have a bunkhouse, that is kind of like the old scouting days, where you may be housed with many other men. (usually not unisex.)
The property of a campground varies, from a bunch of tents in the middle of a field, to a more lavish large wooded campground that is well cared for, and beautifully landscaped. Most of the better ones also offer a pool, and a building for parties and shows. Most also offer clean restrooms and showers for their guests, while others might just have porta johns. There may also be a few that offer a hot tub and sauna. Most are seasonal summer places, while others are open year round, especially those in Florida. Most will also have a camp store, where you can buy food, supplies, and that funky camp t-shirt you have your eye on
Another Camp feature is the clubhouse. This is the place where campers will gather for special events, dinners, dances, and shows. If the camp ground you are attending does not have a clubhouse, chances are there is a specific gathering place where everyone meets. The monster fire pit, is usually a good bet. Or, if there is a lake on the property, people may even meet there, or at the pool. And, if there is none of that where you are staying, chances are someone is having a party, all you have to do is find it. Most usually take place at night by a warm fire, where the chance of being offered a drink, is fairly common.
If you like to be one with nature, a lot of campgrounds have walking trails. It's good to get close with our tree friends, and get a good workout. And, who knows, you may bump into someone who would like to join you on your walk, among other things. But, it's walking the trails at night, that can be an interesting experience, where you get to come face to face with the more daring two legged friends, who are always up to something. Some campgrounds have special areas just for those two legged friends, and those who are looking for them.
So it's not all just being in a tent under a tree. There is a lot to do and see!
YOUR WEEKEND HOME
WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING?
Gay men are the worst at decision making when it comes to Gay camping. It takes a lot of trial and error to remember what you should bring every time. The people who seem to have the most trouble with this, are the tenting crowd. Blankets, clothes, and food are obvious things to bring. But, tenters should also bring the following things.
1. A lamp, or a flashlight, for when it gets dark, in case you want to walk the grounds or read.
2. A portable radio. Mainly for entertainment, but also to check on the weather.
3. An air mattress or cot helps. Sleeping on the ground is not fun. It can also be damp.
4. A cooler and grill. If you like hot food, a grill is a good idea. But, if you are ok with cold sandwiches a cooler full of food is good. Also bring plenty to drink. You will find that food in the camp store is not cheap, and if you are in a resort area, the local stores won't be much different. Also most local restaurants are kinda pricey, and usually not close by.
5. Bring an ax or a saw for fire wood. Most camp grounds sell wood, but you can bet that it will be the most expensive wood you ever bought. The ax will come in handy to break up that wood. You can also go out and collect wood. BUT DON'T CUT DOWN TREES! you can find a lot of dead stuff to collect. Some people also bring those fake logs.
6. A heater. there is nothing like being in a tent on a cold night. If you don't want to spring for electric, make sure you bring warm blankets. Otherwise, bring a small electric heater, not one that uses fuel. I had a friend that even had an electric fireplace in his tent. But, just make double sure that you will be warm. Because being cold sucks!
7. Rain gear. Bring along an umbrella or rain coat, even if the forecast is going to be sunny. You never know when the weather will change. It also helps to have a mat, both inside, and outside your tent, that you can leave your muddy shoes on. Hopefully your tent will have a tarp under it. If it does not, water can and will seep up from under it, and make your tent and stuff quite wet. And, find out where the storm shelter is, in case of bad weather when you arrive, that is, if you are not familiar with the camp ground in which you are staying.
6. Books or crossword puzzles. Just something to do if it rains, or you get bored.
7. A camera, or camcorder, to capture your camp memories. I love doing that!
8. cleaning stuff. Bring a broom to sweep out your tent before you leave. You may also want to clean off the table you are eating off from, as you don't know what's been on it. A table cloth helps. Having a insect candle on your table also helps.
9. Bug spray and sunscreen. Two things you should not forget!! The bugs can be very bad!
An optional item is decorations. It may seem a bit much, but a lot of tent campers like to light up their tent. Tiki Torches are a common site. Chinese lanterns, a string of twinkle lights, and those devices that send up a cool light display in the sky are common. Christmas in July is always a sight to behold. And, Halloween decorations are always fun! There may even be a site contest, and you could win a prize. (But, don't expect a big one.)
Finally, a warning. When you go to sleep at night, or leave your site for any reason, don't leave any food, or anything a value where anyone can see it. Animals will steal your food, and the two legged kind might steal your stuff. Putting it in a safe place will keep them at bay. And, always lock the real valuable stuff in your car.
I'm sure there are probably some things I forgot. You can suggest more in the comments section at the bottom of my hub.
ALWAYS SOMETHING GOING ON!
PARTIES & THEMED WEEKENDS!
If there is a party going on, you can usually find it on a summer weekend at your local gay camp ground. Some are site parties put on by camp regulars, and others are big themed weekends. The biggest of which are Mardi Gras, 4th of July, Christmas in July, and Labor Day weekend. Some of those events, will have parties within parties, entertainment, and other events where the campgrounds will hope that you have fun and participate. Uniform parties, Underwear parties, or a crazy foam party. A glow party is also a cool treat. Or, they may have a Retro party, where everyone dresses up in 70's gear. It's all great fun.
Other big weekends are the special weekends set aside for special groups. Bear weekends are quite popular, and one of my favorite weekends! Where you get to hang out with your furry two legged friends. You can attend the Big Bear Beer Bash, or play Bear Bingo. Or, sing at very beary-yoke. You may even be tempted to enter the bear and cub contest, which always draws a good crowd. Nothing like singing in front of 300 large men, and having them actually pay attention! Even when you lose (like I did) you will still feel all warm and fuzzy inside. All capped off by a moonlight swim, in a pool filled with bears.
Other popular weekends, are leather and western weekends. These weekends are where the very macho guys come out to play. Either way, you are going to be shown how many things you can do with rope. Maybe you'll attend a fetish workshop, or attempt to learn how to country line dance. A western weekend may even include horseback riding, and your own little camp rodeo, where you get to watch someone put tighty whities on a goat! Or, learn how to properly saddle your cowboy, I mean um yer horse.
Other weekends include couples weekends, women's weekends, and even a greek weekend, where you can learn how to make the best toga. Hawaiian weekend, where you will be invited to a pig roast, and maybe see a camp virgin being sacrificed to the pool god! And, and even better weekend, which is haunted weekend. I love haunted weekends, complete with fun costumes, and a camp created haunted house. There is always something going on.
Well, that's all for now. If I left anything out. Please let me know!
GAY TRAVEL INFORMATION
There are many ways you can find Gay Campgrounds. The easiest way is to search for them on the web by whatever state you live in. There are many that I know of by name. The one that I am a member of is called Campit Resort, and is located in west Michigan. Others are Freedom Valley, Buckwood, and the Saw Mill resort, which are located in various states.
Another place to find all kinds of gay destinations is by taking a quick trip to www.funmaps.com. This site offers a city by city guide, to some of the most gay friendly cities in the United States and Canada. I'm not sure but, I think they also offer destinations to almost every major city you can think of in other countries as well. Provincetown MA, and Saugatuck/Douglas, MI are two of the smaller tourists towns that draw thousands of gay tourists every summer. You will also find your major city maps, Chicago, San Fransisco, New York, Miami, Toronto Canada, and Montreal. If it's gay, funmaps will be the place to find it.
You may even find something you didn't expect. Have fun! And, travel Safe!
A GOOD SOURCE FOR GAY TRAVELERS
JUST FOR GIRLS?
I thought I would add some information for our lady friends out there. A few things you should know about gay camping and how it might relate to you, and questions most women have about gay campgrounds in general.
The number one question on most of the ladies minds that I have talked with, is that a gay campground is going to be nothing but men, and I won't have any fun. I'm a not sure about all campgrounds, but, there are many that cater to both gays and lesbians. However, men will greatly outnumber women depending on what weekend you are there. Usually 90% of the campers will be men on most weekends. Holiday weekends tend to bring in a better mix, usually 70-30, or even 50-50. It helps to call a campground that interests you and ask. Just keep in mind that a lot of gay camp grounds are men only. Probably a place you would not want to go to anyways.
Doing a little research will help you make a decision on where, and why you want to go. For example, in the case of Saugatuck, Michigan. There are several resort options that cater to everyone, however, one of the biggest gay resorts has weekends just for women. That is the Dunes Resort in Douglas, which is probably one of the biggest gay tourist draws in the Midwest. But, if you plan to stay, it can be a little pricey. So, why not stay at a campground? Campit Resort is just a short drive from the Dunes, and you can probably stay there for about half of what you would pay anywhere else in the Saugatuck area. But you would probably enjoy yourself no matter when you arrive.
Is there a large women's event in your area? Check around, there may be a campground that is just for you. Unfortunately, I do not know of any campgrounds that are for women only. I hope that you find that destination you are looking for!