After months of being shut indoors by the two big Cs – cold and COVID-19 – people are flooding camping reservation sites.
There’s a great deal of nature to see in Alberta. Although St. Albert lacks majestic mountains, spectacular lakes and wide sandy beaches, the Kinsmen RV Park is a popular destination site for family campers.
The campground runs May 1 to Oct. 1 and already organizers are planning for a full season. Although the 93 gravel pads are vacant at the moment, the park has already received 115 reservations stretching across the five months. Some bookings are short term. Others are seasonal.
“I think we’ll be back to normal from the way it’s going. We didn’t have too many bookings at this time last year. And if sports take into effect this summer, we’ll be really busy,” said Freda Anthony. The St. Albert resident has co-managed the park along with husband George for nine years and lives on-site 24/7 during camping season.
RV Park director Doug Christiansen explained that although the park takes reservations all year round, the park is closed at the moment.
“The water is not running. It has to be treated and tested. And the sewers have to be flushed. At the end of April, we’ll have a city inspector check everything,” said Christiansen.
He added each site has full hookups with 50-amp power.
“We can accommodate anything from smaller tent trailers to larger RVs.”
Prior to the pandemic, the park was packed throughout the season. Entire families booked spots during baseball, soccer and rugby tournaments as well as out-of-town football games. The Rainmaker Rodeo also attracted quick-stop campers.
In her experience, Anthony noted RV’ers and campers are a breed apart, and each one that books a site has a different reason. Certain seasonal campers are long-time St. Albert residents who hang out with family during the summer and travel south for the winter.
“Some people visit relatives. Others just like St. Albert. The Sturgeon River is close by and they go kayaking. Normally, we get a lot of Americans coming through on their way to Alaska. They stop on their way in and they stop on their way out. We’ve also had out-of-town kids going to hockey school, soccer camps and the BMX track is right behind us. There’s such a variety.”
Wedding parties book receptions at the adjacent Kinsmen Banquet Hall as well as campsites for out-of-town guests. Three years ago, the park also hosted a family for the entire season who were selling their old house while building a newer model.
With a steep drop in 2020 bookings, Christiansen estimates the park lost about 20 per cent to 25 per cent of its annual revenue in the past year.
“For us as a club, it doesn’t hurt us. It hurts the community. The RV Park is a non-profit service – money that doesn’t go to expenses is donated to the community. The less money we make from the RV Park, the less money goes into the community,” he said.
On the national level, Kinsmen contribute financially to Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Regionally, STARS Air Ambulance is a recipient, and locally Stop Abuse in Families, the St. Albert Food Bank and a music therapy school for disabled children all receive financial assistance.
Kinsmen RV Park information is available online at https://www.stalbertkin.ca/kinsmen-rv-park.