Cold weather won’t keep people away
Victoria Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to camping season in Cape Breton and while the chilly temperatures might have kept some people inside, it didn’t stop the seasonal campers.
Thelma Cook is manager of Lakeview Campground in Catalone, which is owned by her brother Mike. Since taking over the campground 11 years ago, she’s seen a big increase in seasonal campers and nothing keeps them away.
“These people are what you call die-hard campers,” she said with a laugh. “It doesn’t matter if it is raining, it could be snowing here, which it has.
“The first year we were out here, our water froze. I think it was the 15th of May and it froze. It thawed out later that day but you’d see people in their big winter coats, they don’t care. I think if there was an igloo dug here you’d see them in there, with a fire, singing songs, because that’s what they are — they’re campers.”
Wendy Odo is from New Waterford and has been a seasonal camper for 15 years. Her and her husband have spent the last five at Lakeview after friends and family drew her to the place. Like Cook, she thinks the number of seasonal campers in Cape Breton is increasing yearly.
“With the cost of travelling, more people are camping and doing the seasonal thing. It’s really hard to find a seasonal campground because more people are doing it,” she said, adding she thinks it’s because of rising gas costs and high travel expenses, more people are vacationing close to home.
Out of the 150 sites at Lakeview, between 94 and 100 are taken by seasonal campers, who enjoy the many activities put on for them, like adult dances, swimming lessons, darts and washer toss tournament,s as well as events and games for the kids.
“Every year we try to add something new for the kids,” Cook said. “This year we’ve got a new big bouncy tent, it’s a fire truck. Next year we’re hoping to put in a little (skate) park.”
However, it’s not just the activities that draw the seasonal campers. It’s a sense of community that comes with that camping site.
Terry Eagles from Glace Bay and his family spent the last three years as seasonal campers at Lakeview. He said he likes it because of what it offers his kids — freedom.
“The kids have fun. There’s a lot of kids around. They like to play with everyone else. It’s like a family. Everyone knows everyone else and you can just travel around from trailer to trailer.”
Cook agreed: “They (the campers) watch everybody’s back. If somebody does something down there (in the camp site area) before we know it they are gone. You know, if there’s anybody around who’s not nice or naughty, they are gone. We keep people happy that’s why they are happy campers. They are like a family.”
Still, many people may wonder how these die-hard campers make it through the chilly weather.
Eagles said it’s simple: “Keep the furnace on. Lots of clothes and hope for the best.
“Just deal with the weather. It’s Cape Breton. Deal with it.”
Eddie and Wendy Odo stand with their dog Teikah outside their trailer at Lakeview Campground in Catalone.
Brady Eagles, 7, throws the ball to his brother Tristen, 11, and friend Drake Deveaux, 10, at the Lakeview Campground in Catalone.