Let’s Go Glamping

Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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Whether you are a fan or not, everyone has heard of camping. Well, there’s a couple new kids on the block and they are called gamping and glamping.

They are both ways to experience the outdoors and nature without losing all the amenities of home. Gamping refers to either renting land on someone’s private property or, if you have property, you can rent out a certain portion of your land. Folks come and use it as their own to set up tents or just sleep under the stars for a specified amount of time.

There is a website called Gamping.com that was started in 2013. It has gampsites posted in 25 different countries from Australia to Urugray. The host specifies what is included such as toilet facilities, pools or barbecues. Sites usually list for $8 to $15 which makes them very attractive.

This is just a new name for something that has been around for a long time. A woman from my hometown went on a missions trip to central Pennsylvania and ended up camping on my not-yet father-in-law’s front lawn. It was a win/win for both of them.

It is more appealing to some than regular camping spots because gamping tends to be more private. If you are looking to sit around campfires with others each night then this is not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking to get away from the rat race and get some one-on-one time with nature, this just may be your cup of tea. It is also a way for farmers and other landowners to make a little extra cash, if they don’t mind sharing their personal pieces of heaven with the public.

Glamping is where nature meets luxury, a place where you can live in nature without giving up all the amenities. The word “glamping” actually is coined from the two words “glamourous” and “camping.” Your quarters may be a yurt on a mountaintop, a treehouse in the middle of a forest or a site on a private beach.

Photo via Getty Images

This trend especially appeals to city folks who haven’t lived among nature and don’t want to go the rustic route and yet want to experience wildlife, great views and secluded landscapes while still having comfortable beds, bubble baths, on-site spas and other modern conveniences.

Glamping sites are usually eco-friendly since they rely on solar power many times in the absence of electric from the grid where they are. Adventurers can tailor their experiences to their liking whether it be hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, animal and bird watching or many other activities.

The Midwest’s first glamping experience opened this past June. It is called The Fields and is situated on a working blueberry farm in South Haven about three and a half miles from Lake Michigan. This reality began as a vision of Irene Wood who grew up in South Haven and grew up living between town and her family’s farm. She had the best of both worlds and that is what she hopes that The Fields will provide to her guests.

OK, guests do sleep in tents but you wouldn’t know you were in one from the inside looking out. At present she has 10 luxury rooms that include bathrooms en suite complete with toilets and showers. There are desks and seating areas too. Each one has a wood burning stove, small cooling units and all of these surround a king size bed. Oh, and the lighting is more than merely lamps for each unit has its own chandeliers.

Meals are done a little differently here too. A complementary breakfast is served fireside at The Willows. Lunch and supper can be ordered on the guest’s schedule. Lunches to go are available and guests can also order dinner kits to grill if they are so inclined.

Sean Hale is the resident chef. Having studied at such prestigious schools like the French Culinary School, he brings upscale cuisine down home. He likes to take full advantage of the farm fresh produce of the region in his meal planning. Guests can even take cooking classes with Hale.

If families want to host events or for large groups, The Barn Event venue fits the bill.

Of course, there are always plenty of blueberry dishes served since the farm produces 40,000 pounds of blueberries annually from the 10-acres of blueberry bushes. The farm offers U-Pick to guests and the public.

Farming has changed in recent years. It encompasses so much more than just the major crops of corn, soybeans and wheat that most folks think of when a farm comes to mind. Large corporations have squeezed the small farmer out, making it harder and harder for the little guy to make a go of it.

By using acres on a farm for glamping, it provides the farmer with a little extra income off land that wasn’t directly producing and also offers folks a place to get away from the hectic world and see what nature and farming is all about.

Is this a good idea for everyone? Definitely not. There are always added liability issues when dealing with the public and many farmers are on the farm for the very reason that folks are wanting to come…to get away for a while. When farmers open up their acres for glamping, it takes the personal and private factor away.

Glamping is a whole new ballgame that is right for some and not for others. As with anything, it is all about choice. Who knows, maybe some “glampers” will get a taste of nature and decide to go a little more rustic the next time.

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