ST. MARYS — With the Memorial Day holiday weekend underway, many people are settling in at campgrounds in the region.
Leah Mattise, from Clarkston, Michigan, has family in the Celina area and found that camping at the Grand Lake St. Marys Campground was convenient.
“Camping is an awesome family activity so it’s great to get together and hopefully the weather holds out for the weekend,” Mattise said.
The Mattises arrived at the campground on Thursday and, so far, the experience has lived up to their expectations.
“Oh, it’s been tremendous. I remember camping here as a little girl before we moved to Michigan, and with the addition of the pool at the park, it’s just beautiful now. I think there’s continued room to grow for the park,” said Mattise.
“All of our campgrounds, the local campgrounds being Lake Loramie, Grand Lake, and Indian Lake, are all full occupancy for the weekend,” said Brian Miller, Southwest District Manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Miller is optimistic this will be the start of a great summer.
“It’s just been a long, drawn out spring, and it looks like we’re going to have a great weekend. The weather’s looking pretty good,” he said.
People are not only camping but also hitting area lakes.
“We’re seeing boating. It’s really picked up here the past couple weeks with the weather, so we’re looking forward to a busy weekend,” Miller noted.
For many people, the transition from winter-like to summer-like weather has been about a month or less, and that’s affected camping.
“It’s definitely been slow due to the weather, so we have not seen as many campers as we traditionally see, but camping is a weather-dependent business,” Miller said.
There is one big new attraction that is getting the attention of campers at Grand Lake St. Marys, and that’s a newly built swimming pool.
“That’s the most exciting thing at Grand Lake St. Marys [campground] is the pool. That is a new feature here. We have made capital investments over the past several years at Grand Lake St. Marys. We put in additional full hook-up sites. We built a shelter house and put a splash pad in and we put this pool in,” said Miller.
He’s optimistic that because of the pool and other features of the campground they’ll be busy all summer.
“A lot of people camp on weekends, but people look for places to go for vacations and take their families away for a week-long or so stay, and what we’ll see is those folks coming to Grand Lake because, as we all know, our kids dictate where we take vacations, and with the pool and the splash pad, it’s going to be a destination for people to come and vacation,” he said.
Over the past decade, there has been a blue-green algae problem that has produced a toxin that made it unhealthy for swimming in the lake.
Concerns about swimming by campground guests have been alleviated thanks to the new pool.
“It definitely helps with our campers. It gives them a place to go that they don’t have to think twice about as far as the water quality,” he said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.