Camping season

GLOVERSVILLE – Owning a private campground in Fulton County tends to be a long-term enterprise. Alby Peck said his family has owned and operated Peck’s Lake Resort “forever” or at least since about 1889. Peck said he’s seen many summers come and go, and the upcoming season looks like a good one.

“It looks like this will possibly be a little better this year than last year, based on the calls we’re getting,” Peck said. “Maybe it’s due to the weather and gas prices being a little better and the economy being a little better.”

According to not for profit motor club AAA, approximately 37.2 million people in the U.S. – the highest in the last 10 years – are projected to travel 50 or more miles during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, up 4.7 percent from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year.

Gas prices, which according to AAA are the lowest they’ve been for Memorial Day weekend in five years, are likely a contributing factor to the high traffic volume projections. On Friday, AAA estimated the national average price of gas per gallon to be $2.73, slightly less than the $2.75 average price per gallon for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area.

William Houck, who’s owned Pine Lake Park in Caroga Lake for 44 years, said most of his business is from seasonal renters, which keeps him from being affected too much by gas prices or weekend traffic.

“I run at capacity almost the entire summer. We have five or six sites that we hold back for friends of the seasonals and most of the time, those fill up,” Houck said.

Houck’s business model is typical for many private campgrounds, which use access to amenities like electricity, water, telephones, sometimes Internet, to attract long-term seasonal customers, the revenue from which maintains a stable business irrespective of the weather or gas prices.

Most private campgrounds, however, operate smaller side businesses that their customers can use like soft ice cream stands, miniature golf and equipment rentals, revenues from all of which can go up or down based on how many people actually come to the campgrounds.

Joan Dudley, who has been the co-owner of the Royal Mountain Campsite in Johnstown for 26 years, said new customers are important to her business and she was filling new reservations for Memorial Day weekend throughout the week.

“People come and they don’t want to leave, truthfully. I’ve had people come for a weekend and they don’t want to leave,” she said.