Some campgrounds engage their guests in everything from scavenger hunts to arts and crafts and tie-dyed T-shirt classes, while others offer competitive events, from pet costume contests to singing competitions and limbo contests. Meanwhile, several parks have developed themed events, from magical “Harry Potter” weekends to Halloween in July and Easter in August celebrations. One park even hosts its own game and reality shows, based on popular favorites including Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal and Survivor.
“Campgrounds are increasingly moving in the entertainment business,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the Auburn-based California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. “Many parks offer fun family activities throughout the day, and several have special themed weekends that include contests, parades and live entertainment.”
Indeed, the days of campgrounds and RV parks being sleepy, quiet places are fading. “In today’s competitive market environment,” Sipe said, “campground and RV park operators are increasingly developing activities and entertainment, both to stimulate return visits and also to lure guests away from parks that do not offer activities or entertainment.”
The net result, she added, are parks with a growing roster of fun activities and special events throughout the summer. Consider the following family activities for these California campgrounds.
- Campland by the Bay in San Diego (800-422-9386): This park, which recently installed a skate park, features arts and crafts classes; beach volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, capture the flag, and sand castle-building competitions; and entertainment, including “American Idol”-type competitions with campground guests, performances with live bands and campfire singalongs.
- Coloma Resort in Coloma (800-238-2298): This park features on-site gold panning, yoga classes, guided naturalist hikes and a ropes challenge course, which tests campers’ physical, emotional and problem-solving abilities.
- Marble Quarry RV Park in Columbia (209-532-9539): This park offers on-site gold-panning classes for kids and their families as well as a hamburger barbecue, ice-cream social and campfire program on Saturdays. The park also has volleyball, shuffleboard, tetherball and horseshoe areas as well as a game room.
- Redwoods River Resort & Campground in Leggett (707-925-6249): This 21-acre campground, which features towering redwoods, madrones and tan oaks, hosts ice-cream socials, children’s movie nights, arts and crafts classes, scavenger hunts and other social events designed for family fun.
- San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA (707-763-1492): This park’s summer activities include a “Polynesian Weekend” (July 17-19), with island-style crafts, kareoke, face painting and Polynesian dancers; a “50s Weekend” (July 31-Aug 1), with poodle skirts, classic cars and a sock hop; a “Harry Potter Weekend” (Aug. 7-9), with a Harry Potter lookalike contest, firebolt races, balloon art and a magic show; and a “Kareoke Showdown” (Aug. 28-30), when winners from previous KOA kareoke contests throughout 2009 return to compete for a championship title and prizes.
- Santa Cruz KOA (800-562-7701): This La Selva Beach park’s attractions include a mechanical bull and a mechanical surfboard and offers activities throughout the summer, including tie-dyed T-shirt classes, ice cream socials, outdoor movies and campfire singalongs. The park also has themed weekends, including a “Wild, Wild, West Weekend” (July 17-19), with hay rides, crafts and a bull-riding contest; and a “Hawaiian Weekend” (July 24-26), with hula and limbo contests and paper leis crafts.
- Stockton KOA (800-562-0913): This Lodi park has special activities and themed weekends throughout the summer, including a “Pirates Weekend” (July 17-19); a “Science and Magic for the Curious” weekend (July 24-26), which includes opportunities to explore and event things as well as opportunities to learn new tricks and participate in a magic show; a “Super Soaker Weekend” (July 31 – Aug. 2), which includes a big blow-up slip n’slide and a giant water balloon fight; a “Game Show Weekend” (Aug. 7-9), which includes variations of Deal No Deal, Family Feud and Jeopardy; a “Scavenger Hunt Weekend” (Aug. 14-16); and a “Survivor Weekend” (Aug. 21-23), in which family members and campers team up to play their own game of Survivor.
- Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Cobb, (866-928-4322): This campground has themed weekends and related special activities throughout the summer, including a “Treasure Hunt Weekend” (July 10-12); a “Halloween in July” weekend (July 17-18), complete with costume contests, Halloween crafts, campsite decorating contests and trick or treating; a “Pets Weekend” (August 1-2), with a special activities involving animals, including a best dressed pet contest; an “Easter in August” weekend (August 7-8), complete with an Easter egg hunt and other Easter activities; plus a triathalon for campground guests on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7), which will include a race on go-cart pedal bikes, a kayak race across the park’s pond, followed by a sprint to the pool. Travelers can locate private campgrounds in California by checking Camp-California.com. The site includes links to RV parks and campgrounds, which provide their own “activities” or event calendars, which can help you figure out which parks have activities your family will enjoy.