Socially-Distant RV Camping: My New Camping Norm

I just fell sideways out of the side door of my Airstream Basecamp. I landed gracefully, but the few moments after my landing? Not exactly a gold-medal-winning performance. Picture Ed Grimley meets Elaine from Seinfeld. Yep. That’s what I looked like. I could attribute my sweet dance moves to the boat crossing the reservoir, pumping out Lizzo, but sadly, my moves are courtesy of the yellow jacket that decided to crawl through the open rear hatch and land somewhere between my collarbone and shoulder blade.

The good news? I got the little buzzer out of my shirt. The bad news? I might have traumatized the teenage children passing by my RV. Truth be told — I’m not even mad about embarrassing myself. Why? Because I’m at the campground on my first socially-distant RV camping trip since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and nothing feels better than having my rig parked across the campground from other solo-RVing women.

From Vacation to Devastation: The Unraveling of RV Camping Season

Like many RVers, I spend January mapping out the upcoming camping season. It’s wise to book a site for some state or national park campgrounds as soon as the reservation window opens up. Since Colorado summer camping is some of the best camping in the West, I usually plan all of my camping trips around my Colorado campground reservations. This summer, I had some fun RV trips scheduled, until, like many of you, I didn’t.

I may or may not have spent a month or so lamenting the loss of the RV season. I had two upcoming Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) International Conventions canceled. Just days before pointing my RV toward Tucson, Arizona, the rally, like most events in the country, was canceled. This rally was especially exciting for me because I was to be a member of an all-women RVing panel during the RV Basics class. Also, during the main convention, I was to present a few sessions on the topic of solo-female RVing. The cancelation of the event disappointed hundreds of people headed to the rally, but it especially impacted the full-time RVers who planned their stays around the rally. The unraveling of the camping season reached far and wide, and ultimately cost the organizations hosting events, like this RV rally, an unfathomable amount of time, money, and resources.

Within days of the rally’s cancelation, we also had to cancel several of our Colorado Campers camping events. Then a handful of my coveted Colorado campground reservations were canceled as well. It seemed as if the camping season fell apart in a matter of days.

I knew that the impact of COVID-19 across the world was more significant than I could even comprehend. Suddenly, people were asked to stay home to help flatten the curve. Jobs were lost. People lost family members. Even my beloved RVing community lost one of our own, Gary Bunzer, to the coronavirus. Suddenly, missing camping season didn’t seem like such a big deal, after all.

Helping my Spirits by Helping the RV Community

During the first few months of quarantine, I kept myself busy writing, editing, and publishing relevant coronavirus information for Outdoorsy. We had a mission bigger than ourselves. While people like me were inconvenienced during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the full-time RVing community suddenly had no place to stay. Across the country, national parks, state parks, and private campgrounds went from fully operational to completely closed within a week. Our team knew that publishing articles about the operational status of parks as well as helping full-time RVers navigate this unprecedented time in our country was imperative. I was lucky to be a part of the push to help the people I cherish the most: the RVing community.

Before I knew it, the spread of the virus slowed, and the hope of a different kind of camping season emerged. Parks and other camping areas began to open up. Now, RVing is quickly becoming a favored way to travel this summer.

I feel safe inside my RV. I know I can take my rig and camp off-the-grid, and maintain a safe distance from most people. I’ve spent two weekends boondocking in national forests, and honestly? Getting out in my RV and staying in dispersed camping areas was just what I needed to ease back into a new way of camping.

Camping Cautiously: How I’m Camping During Social Distancing

Right now, I am at my first socially-distant camping event of the season. I’m attending a solo-RVing women’s weekend near the headwaters of the Colorado River. This campout is the group’s first (uncanceled) event of the season, and we’re taking all of the precautions to keep ourselves and other campers safe. This weekend we’ve implemented the following modifications to have a fun but safe, socially-distant campout.

  1. Instead of a group campfire every night, we have two or three small campfires held at different women’s campsites each night. We can still have a small campfire and conversation while maintaining at least six feet from one another.
  2. We’ve substituted our potluck dinner for a single-serving meal where all food comes individually wrapped for safety.
  3. We have a rule where women must wear a mask when entering another woman’s campsite, and masks must stay on unless you are at least six feet away and either eating or drinking. Otherwise? Mask on!
  4. Before handling the hostess’s gifts, we have to use hand gel before and after we touch an item.
  5. If we don’t have self-contained RVs with wet baths or toilets, we use antibacterial wipes to open and close restroom doors, and we wipe all surfaces down after using them.
  6. We can’t take our usual group photo, so instead, we’re taking individual pictures of each woman standing near her camper, or we’re taking socially-distanced, mask-wearing photos.
  7. Our group art project is still on, but we have lap desks to keep ourselves at least six feet apart, and each of our art kits has been sanitized and individually wrapped. We all get our own colored pencils!
  8. We’re participating in water activities, but we wipe everything down before and after each use. We have paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and even a rental pontoon boat, but you won’t catch one of us touching something that’s not ours without permission and sanitation.

Socially-Distant RV Camping: The New Norm

Three months ago, if you asked me what my summer camping plans looked like, I’d never have pictured myself wearing a mask and asking a friend for permission to enter her campsite. Now? I’m so grateful that I can safely participate in my favorite activity: RVing. All it took was a little perspective. Thankfully, my RVing women friends, and I, are happy to tweak our camping procedures. These small changes mean that we get to spend time outside doing what we love best while keeping everyone around us safe.

Didn’t you know that socially-distant camping is the biggest summer fashion for solo RV-loving women like myself?