About seven years ago, I made the decision to introduce my family to the wonders of camping, and I’m happy to say it’s become a tradition we all look forward to – even with the comedic stylings of Jim Gaffigan trying to convince us otherwise. Over those years, we’ve tried to embark on two camping trips a year – one as a family and one with other family friends. We’ve stayed at public State Park sites and private campgrounds and both have experiences our family has enjoyed.
Our first year camping took us to Blue Mounds State Park just southwest of Madison. It was thestereotypical experience: campfires, s’mores, wrestling with the tent, and… raccoons. Honestly, I thought seeing our first raccoon trying to get into our campsite was going to be the end of camping for the wife and kids. But you know what? It was probably the highlight of the trip, and we still talk about the raccoons that stole our bag of trash bags off the picnic table with nothing in the bags. Since then, we’ve camped at Devil’s Lake State Park, Copper Falls State Park and Kohler-Andrae State Park to name a few. While each different, they all shared a “natural” experience as we saw some of the most amazing scenery and land formations in Wisconsin. I don’t think anyone in our group will forget the hike from the south shore to the north shore at Devil’s Lake… diving in the lake was the most welcomed reward to a fun hike.
Now private campgrounds have their advantages well. Two that we stayed at in the past couple years included Silver Spring Campsites in Rio and Wilderness Campground in Montello. Family fun and excitement sums up those experiences. With daily activities, more kids’ playgrounds, swimming pools and inflatable toys in the lakes there’s definitely no shortage of things to do at private campgrounds. Through Discover Wisconsin, I also have been able to visit some of the Camping for the Fun of It campgrounds, and those have equaled the “family fun” component of those my family has visited.
Here is my list of “PROS” for both private and public camping.
- See a wide variety of scenery
- A LOT of outdoor activities
(hiking, biking, fishing, etc)
- Usually more secluded sites
- Less expensive reservation fee
- Nature centers and education
- Organized activities
- More kid play features
- Water Wars and water toys
- Great amenities close to sites
- Themed weekends
So what side of the fence – or campsite – are you on? Public? Or Private? Comment below!
Chad Diedrick is the managing producer for the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. In his 12+ years of discovering Wisconsin, Chad has seen virtually every corner of the state. Between filming breaks, you’re likely to catch Chad trying his hand at a round of disc golf at a local course. (His goal is to hit every disc golf course in Wisconsin!) Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.