Memorial Day has come and gone, the calendar has flipped to June, many students are starting their summer breaks and the Fourth of July is on the horizon.

It's safe to say summer is taking shape.

For the area's campgrounds, this time of year is a busy time, too. Getting things opened up, doing maintenance projects and taking reservations are all part of the daily routine. From now until later this year, it will be a whirlwind of activity, but for those who are in the business of camping that is exactly how they want it.

Last year, however, this time of year was full of uncertainty for campgrounds.

Cadillac Woods Campground co-owners Shane and Cindy Suiter were "teetering on the edge" of losing everything. The investment in the business, their retirement — everything. Although the season started slowly last year, things picked up around Memorial Day. They were at full capacity that weekend and were again the following week.

The proceeding two weeks were slower but from the weekend of June 27, 2020, through Aug. 23, 2020, the campsite was booked full. The trend of being full looks to be continuing as the 2021 season is starting to take shape.

"We are packed. We have had to turn people away. We had a full house and then some," Cindy Suiter said. "We have lots of requests."

Cindy Suiter said while there are some tent sites open here and there on weekends, RV sites are starting to get booked. She said the Fourth of July weekend is roughly a month away and they already are having to turn people away as they are booked.

The start of the 2021 season is a 180 from where 2020 started, according to Cindy Suiter. While there was real fear about losing their business and investment last year, this year they don't have those worries. Cindy Suiter said she and her husband wish they had more campsites as they hate having to turn people away.

While not ideal, it is a good problem to have.

For Kestlewoods Campground owners Ted and Leanna Crum, it is a similar story.

The Crums relocated in 2020 from the Flint area, and in particular, Gaines, to purchase the campground last June. To say they were nervous about their business venture would be an understatement as they were purchasing the campground during a global pandemic.

"We were nervous about how crazy a year it would be. Would the banks loan money? How would we get together for a closing? We leaned on God for a lot of it," Leanna Crum said. "We gave it to him and let him worry about it and figure it out."

Like the Suiters' experience, Leanna Crum said the season went a lot smoother than anticipated and most of the worries had never turned out to be problems. She said compared to downstate, people in the area were not as "freaked out" about the virus and as a result, it was more relaxed.

That's not to say precautions weren't taken.

Leanna Crum said they made sure campers adhered to social distancing and kept a space between each filled campsite. She also said shared facilities only allowed for one person to use them at a time. Although it was a little different, she said campers were good at following the new rules. She also said it helped that they were outside.

Although this weekend seems to be a little slower for Kestlewoods due to graduations and weddings, she said another reason was the cancellation of Camp Greensky. But with every obstacle, there is an opportunity as she said her campground is already booked full for the Hoxeyville Music Festival in August.

With the summer taking shape, the Suiters are hopeful they will do as well this year as they did last year. They also are hoping to put some new ideas into play. With weekends typically being full, Cindy Suiter said they are trying to attract people to the campground during the week.

"The pool was open last year, but we are hoping to do weekday passes Monday through Thursday where people can come who are not camping and enjoy our putt-putt, the pool and hiking paths," Cindy Suiter said. "We wanted to do that last year, but we were not able to." 

Cadillac News