As Governor Whitmer begins to cautiously reopen segments of the state economy,
a group of Michigan owners and operators from all across the state have unified their message.
They represent the largest network of campgrounds in North America, and have asked the
Governor to ease the current restrictions on recreational camping at private campgrounds.
Over the past two months, while state-run campgrounds have closed through mid-June, private
campgrounds have stepped up to serve the one million Americans who live full-time in their
recreational vehicles (RV), individuals who are travelling in their RV, critical infrastructure
workers, or otherwise needy individuals seeking accommodations for a COVID-related purpose.
However, recreational camping has been expressly prohibited during the Governor’s “Stay
Home. Stay Safe” Executive Orders, which is set to expire on May 15.
“Camping is the quintessential outdoor, “Pure Michigan” activity,” said Mark Lemoine, owner
and managing partner of the Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Holiday in Benton Harbor. He adds, “The
Governor’s Order allows people to leave their homes to engage in outdoor recreational activity
consistent with remaining at least six feet away from individuals outside their household – which
for thousands of people perfectly describes the “social distancing” they get while camping. But
oddly, the current environment allows you to sleep in a hotel or motel, or travel to a second
home, but Michiganders are not allowed to do an outdoor activity where they bring their living
quarters with them in the form of a tent or recreational vehicle.”
Among the points they make in their letter, they state that private campground owners have
demonstrated their commitment to public health, and as entrepreneurs have the ingenuity and
creativity of how to implement procedures and measures that promote the health and wellness
of their staff and guests. They also point out that allowing people to go camping can be an
effective way to address the growing mental health crisis.
Although they have endured a flurry of cancellations, and daily try to help people navigate
through the confusion and uncertainty, public demand for camping reservations remains strong,
starting with the Memorial Day Holiday weekend that is just around the corner.
As seasonal businesses themselves, like garden centers and landscapers, there is a greater
sense of urgency that the restrictions be lifted as the peak summer season between Memorial
Day and Labor Day can represent upwards of 80% of their annual income. It is imperative that
recreational camping at private campgrounds be allowed if these small businesses are to be
given a chance to financially survive beyond this year.
Their open letter to the Governor is attached.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds.
There are more than 525 KOA campgrounds. There are KOA campgrounds in nearly every U.S.
state (except Hawaii and Rhode Island) and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta,
Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
As the industry leader in outdoor hospitality, the KOA Family of Campgrounds – KOA Journey®,
KOA Holiday®, and KOA Resort® – offer sites and amenities designed for every type of camping
KOA is a franchising company, and each KOA franchisee owns and operates their own campground
while taking advantage of KOA’s marketing and operational support.