The great outdoors offers safe haven to those looking to escape COVID-19

West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — While the pandemic drags into the spring, people are itching to get out and find safe activities to do in the warmer weather.

With more and more people getting vaccinated every day, many are less hesitant to finally go back out and try new things.

It’s a phenomenon local campgrounds are actually benefitting from.

“Looking forward to just getting out and enjoying a little bit of the area. Should be able to actually go to Beech Fork or go down to Ritter with a little more peace of mind,” says Ethan Sharp, who got his COVID-19 vaccination Friday.

More and more people are flocking outdoors during the pandemic. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

Emergency Medical Services officials say outdoor activities are actually some of the safest activities people can take part in at the moment.

“Camping’s one of the safer activities, just like fishing and boating. It’s outside, it’s not confined. So therefore you’ve got plenty of open area, not as concerned about contracting in the closeness of the individuals,” says Steve Murray, the assistant director of Cabell County Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

It seems a lot of people have caught on to this train of thought, because campground officials say business is booming.

“Last year we had our busiest year ever. And the numbers are looking, you know with reservations coming in online and everything, it looks like it’s gonna be a very busy summer again,” says Dillard Price, the park superintendent at Beech Fork State Park.  

Park volunteers say a lot of the people coming in are first-time campers.

“I think because you can social distance much easier out here. Our campsites are spaced well enough that they’re not in somebody else’s face all the time,” says Janit Bowen, a campground host at Beech Fork State Park.

Long-time campers say they do not mind the influx too much.

“I think its refreshing. Anytime that you see families out camping and being active, I think that’s a lot better than playing video games or watching TV,” says Joel Mullins, a camper at Beech Fork State Park.

People who were getting vaccinated Friday say they would be comfortable heading into the great outdoors afterwards.

“Out of 100 percent, I’m probably 90 percent confident that I don’t have to worry,” says James Burcham, who got his COVID-19 vaccination Friday.

“Very encouraging for the mind and after being cooped in for some level of quarantine, it’s just good practice to take care of your mental health,” Sharp says.

If you’re ready to get outside too, visit West Virginia’s state parks website here for more information.

For more information about Beech Fork State Park, visit this website.

For more information on the rules and regulations of the state parks, visit this website.

For more information on some camping safety tips, visit this website.

To contact West Virginia State Parks, call 1-833-WV-PARKS

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