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Get Your Gay Camping On
Columnist Ric Reily, an experienced camping enthusiast, takes readers
through Florida’s gay campgrounds
Urban environments provide for the
constant stimulation of LGBT individuals.
A raucous rush of being serially late for
everything from the gym before work to
a fundraiser after creates a frenzy some
soon simply choose to call a life. Stay busy
enough and questions of who you are and
what you are doing are easily subverted
into a dungeon of ignorance.
Organized events provide a certain
distraction. Running a marathon, riding
a bicycle for a few days raising money,
donating time to worthy causes, making
dinner for a late arriving husband or wife
before rushing off to an early evening
theater can over time allow the illusion of
a life fully lived.
Until one day a friend says, usually
off handedly, ‘Let’s go camping!’ The
declaration often brings eyes to bear
and conversations to a halt. Caught up in
the urban lifestyle resplendent with its
inherent expectations, gay camping had
yet to rise to the fore. Which in no way
means gay camping doesn’t exist, simply
that it has yet to be discovered by many.
Big time alert here; not only has gay
camping been discovered it is enjoyed
by many on a regular basis. With gay
campgrounds in about twenty states and
many of those having several, there are
perhaps a hundred gay campgrounds in
There is no formula for gay
campgrounds and the concept would be
difficult to impossible to franchise. Each
is different in its topography, size, culture,
ownership and governing authority.
Gay campgrounds range from full blown
resorts like The Sawmill near Dade City in
Florida, which is a true gay community,
to gorgeous Jones Pond, near Angelica,
NY, with its generous and inclusive
population of seasonal campers, to quiet
oasis’ of tranquility like Lizard Landing
in southeast Alabama and David’s Oasis
near Bisbee, AZ.
There are at least seven gay
campgrounds in Florida, from Vitambi
Springs and Camp Mars near Lake
Okeechobee, The Sawmill and Camp
David near Tampa and Orlando and
Southern Comfort west of Gainesville
near Cross City. Several others are located
in the Panhandle.
Gay camping is a freeing experience.
It’s about leaving the usual and normal
behind and embracing the unknown
while meeting new friends, experiencing
new things and creating new memories.
Get out and get your gay camping on.
Life is filled with sounds.
Cities rumble with a constant
cacophony of planes, trains and
automobiles; interspersed regularly,
particularly after dark, with a symphony
of sirens, helicopter roar and uproarious
eruptions of laughter and music. Rural
landscapes vacillate with their own
sounds of life, the occasional motor
roaring down a nearby
highway, a train rumbling
down a distant track blowing
its horn at deserted crossings
on vacant country roads and a
hum of insects in trees calling
for a mate amidst the song of
birds summoning evening.
Camping in meadows or
under overarching Water
Oaks provides a front row
seat to the symphony of evening. Even
in the country music is an unrelenting
undercurrent. Yet, no matter the music
somehow the piece works; cicadas, black
birds and finches, the distant train and
an errant motorcycle rider meld into a
peaceful work of art merging the purely
natural song with the pseudo natural end
of day melody created by man.
Those moments, moments before
and after sunset, as each day yields to
an encroaching dark, life reaches out its
aural tentacles snaring a cocktail sipping
campfire sitting gay man or women and
their friends merging them into the
concert of nature after dark
in a gay campground.
more friendly, open and
inclusive than campers in
You cannot pass someone
in a gay campground and
not get a hello, and probably
also an offer to stop and sit
a while. Passersby, many
with dogs on leashes pulling eagerly
ahead anticipating the next great news
lying awaiting discovery by only a nose to
the ground, smile or wave or nod or speak
and some even drop in for a moment, a
sit, a drink, or perhaps even a hope of
Gay campers are more friendly, open and inclusive than
campers in mainstream campgrounds. You cannot pass
someone in a gay campground and not get a hello, and
probably also an offer to stop and sit a while.
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