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Summer Camping Season Kicks Off

EUGENE, Ore. — With this week’s stretch of warm, dry weather, it’s finally starting to feel like summer.

For some that means breaking out the trailer or tent for some outdoor fun.

Lane County Parks officials say that despite the current economy and gas prices, they haven’t seen a drop in camping business, but they have seen a change in the demographic. Park managers say they’re seeing more people camp closer to home.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve definitely seen not a decrease in business, but an increase in local people using our campgrounds,” said Parks Manager Mike Russell.

That’s exactly what Eugene resident Sarah Laszlo was doing this weekend.

“It saves on money, saves on gas, and yet we still get the ambience of being out here in the forest and camping and being able to use our trailer instead of it just sitting at our house,” Laszlo said.

Laszlo’s neighbors came from Newport, and while they said they hadn’t seen a decline in camping numbers, they did admit to toning down their trips.

“This year we’re sticking to Oregon, whereas last year we did 9,000 miles and went clear to the East Coast and Savanah, Georgia. Gas was certainly a factor,” said camper Mona Glode.

The folks who make a living selling camping gear say it’s simple – one initial investment covers several trips.

Key items such as a tent, sleeping bags, cooler and water bottle for two to four people could be bought at a fraction of the price of other vacations.

“You’re spending 3 or $400 on a camping set that you’re gonna have forever,” said Cabela’s Camping Retail Outfitter Jamie Kohley.

Park managers say this weekend is one of the busiest of the year. Two of the four campgrounds are already booked, and there are only a few spaces available at the rest.

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