It’s been an active and at times a challenging year for Woodlawn Regional Park.
The park’s camping season will wrap up on Sept. 30, after nearly five months of camping for seasonal and short-term campers alike.
The number of non-seasonal campers was definitely up, according to park business manager Maureen Daoust. It’s been particularly busy at the Souris River campground, which was as full as it’s been since the flood 2011.
The Boundary Dam location had some busy weekends as well, she said.
Both seasonal and short-term campers can still enjoy camping at the park until the closing date on Sept. 30.
“The hours are kind of sporadic,” said Daoust. “Most of our summer staff is university kids … so obviously they’re all back to hitting the books.
“It’s a little bit of a skeleton staff, so we’re doing our best to meet whatever needs our short-term campers have here.”
Many of the campers they’ll have this month are people who are passing through Estevan and want to camp out for the night.
“We get a fair number of people that are travelling to and from Alaska who are staying,” said Daoust.
The number of seasonal campers was around 100 at the Boundary Dam site, she said, and there were fewer seasonals for the Woodlawn campground. Those numbers are down, she said, as they had open seasonal sites, a contrast to some years in the past when Woodlawn had a wait list for seasonals.
Daoust believes it might be a reflection of the economic downturn catching up with some people, and therefore they have to make some choices.
“We did still have a few people come in partway through the season, though, as seasonal campers, to join our park family,” said Daoust. “We’re always on the lookout (for campers), and we’ve had a few people inquiring about a site for next year.”
The park did encounter some challenges this year. A severe thunderstorm on June 14 knocked down numerous trees in the park. A contractor had to be hired for tree removal. Volunteers also turned out to help out with the cleanup.
Daoust also took over as the business manager at the beginning of the season, after the park opened. The park also had a new maintenance manager.
There were issues associated with the late arrival of spring-like temperatures, and the park also received a donation of 2,000 trees.
But there were highlights, such as the Family Fun Day in July which took the place of Beach Bash. Saskatchewan Express performed at the stage at the Boundary Dam site for the second straight year, and the park hopes a Saskatchewan Express concert can become an annual event.
“They’re very entertaining, and I think it’s something that the park likes to partner with and promote,” said Daoust.
Smokey the Bear visited the park, and Daoust isn’t sure when that has happened before.
And there were a couple of day events for seasonal campers. Daoust hopes those special events can extend to short-term campers next year.
The park is also trying to do more promotion to make the public more aware of what it has to offer during the summer months.
While the park is closed to camping next week, that doesn’t mean it has hosted the last of its activities for the year. It will host the second annual Christmas in the Park on Dec. 16. The Festival of Lights will start that day as well, and continue until the end of the year.
The Festival of Lights will offer a twinkle tour with local businesses and restaurants participating.
“There was a really good response … from the community for that last year, and it was an awesome event that the park could hold in the offseason,” said Daoust.