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Archive for Monday, August 2, 1999

LAWRENCE AREA CAMPGROUNDS CATER TO RESIDENTSTRAVELERS

August 2, 1999

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Area campgrounds cater to all kinds of campers and recreational vehicle travelers.

July marks the height of camping season -- a season generally considered to run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Of course, types of campers and campgrounds vary. Some campgrounds cater largely to Lawrence and east Kansas residents. Others bring in campers who stay awhile and use local services and businesses.

The site of KOA Campgrounds of Lawrence near Interstate 70 makes it a convenient one-night stop for vacationers on their way to destinations such as Colorado or the Carolinas, said campground manager Jessica Oyler. In the past, the campground has relied largely on business from the interstate.

Lately, though, they've seen a change.

"It's becoming more of a destination campground," Oyler said.

There are only a handful of campgrounds in the Kansas City area and only one other affiliated with KOA, which is the nation's largest and perhaps best-known campground chain. Lawrence's KOA also is the closest campground to downtown Lawrence and the Kansas University campus. Thus, the park sees many campers looking for things to do in Lawrence, Oyler said.

KOA also does business with another group -- seasonal workers. The park offers weekly rates and sees a good amount of construction workers and other tradesmen who travel in trailers or RVs and need a place to stay for several months at a time, she said.

Ralph Paul, who works for a computer company, has had his trailer parked at KOA for the past six weeks. The Houston resident said he's familiar with KOA's reputation and has been pleased with his stay. He also said he basically becomes a resident of a city when he lives in it.

"I know more about your illustrious little city than most residents," he said.

Slough Creek Marine and RV Park and Clinton Lake State Park also cater to many long-term campers, but theirs are a bit different. The parks see many retirees -- "winter Texans," Clinton park manager Jerry Schecker calls them -- who spend the summer in Kansas and head for warmer climates in winter.

Slough Creek, a small park along the south side of Perry Lake, is a nice place for retirees, Maggie Jones said. Jones, formerly of Topeka, lives full-time in her RV and travels between her daughter, who lives in Perry, and her son in Mississippi. She and her husband leave their trailer parked and hooked up at their site, amidst other retired campers who do the same, she said.

Clinton Lake State Park shares another kind of camper with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds at Clinton Lake. These campers are more likely to come out on weekends and they tend to be families with children looking for a natural setting.

They also come mostly from Lawrence, Topeka and the Kansas City area. The Corps of Engineers parks typically see some area families three or four times a year, Corps of Engineers park manager David Rhoades said.

"Out typical camper would be a family in a pop-up or a trailer," he said.

Erik Petersen's voice message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is epetersen@ljworld.com.

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