Most of us, most of the time, should continue to wear masks in public, maintain social distance, and wash our hands frequently. But a year after the pandemic, we’re ready for some recreation. Is camping during the pandemic a low-risk option?
Location, location, location
Camping sites in Northwest Arkansas tend not to be crowded. Your household can set up camp and never come within six feet of your campsite neighbors. Sharing a tent with the people who share your house doesn’t bring you into any extra danger.
However, if you’re traveling, you might run into campgrounds that are more like a parking lot than like our Northwest Arkansas camping spaces. These are not good choices right now.
Some campgrounds offer social events like group hikes, evening campfires, and group meals. These are often a way to add more fun to your outing and to meet new people. Not right now.
Campfires can mean singing, talking loudly, and coughing from the smoke — all activities that can spread more droplets and more virus into the air. Outdoor activities are safer than indoor ones, but these gatherings should still be postponed for a safer time.
Don’t be spontaneous
Stick with your own household. One family, plus fully vaccinated grandparents, is an example of a wise camping group. You and a bunch of friends who all feel like getting out this weekend? Not a good choice.
Make plans and carry as much as possible to your destination. If you need to stop for ice at a gas station on the way, visit a grocery store or two, go to another campsite to borrow some matches, and troop over to a restaurant for dinner, you’re adding elements of risk.
Reserve your camping space, pack your food in, and make sure you bring soap and hand sanitizer.
Follow the rules
The basic rules are the same when you’re camping as they are in any public place:
- Wear a well-fitting face covering.
- Stay six feet away from people who are not in your household.
- Wash your hands frequently.
Some camping areas have their own rules, too. They may be keeping capacity lower and asking people to use every other camping space. Some trails might be closed. Stores or other public spaces may have limited hours.
They probably have good reasons for these rules. Follow them. If you don’t accept those rules, you can probably find another campground.
However, see “Don’t be spontaneous” above. It’s best to check before you go. If you aren’t willing to accept the campground’s rules, choose another and make sure you get a reservation.
Camping can be a great choice for family fun at this time.