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Camping creates memories

Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, prepares the arcade that will be available to campers for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

As summer vacation approaches, campgrounds across Butler County are preparing for their annual busy season, when campers from near and far come to stay for a weekend, a week or sometimes the whole summer.

Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, which first opened in April 1977 in Renfrew, said he’s seen many familiar faces over the years — multiple generations of campers spending their summers at the Connoquenessing Township campground.

“People come back year after year, time and time again,” Hagofsky said. “They are bringing their kids. We’ve seen third-generation campers camping with us.”

Hagofsky, who has been camping at Buttercup Woodlands with his family since he was 3 years old, purchased the campground in January, committing to help families continue making memories at the space.

“We get to create the memory and keep people happy because that’s basically what they want,” said. “Whether that’s with activities [or] just a great camping experience.”

This year’s lineup includes live music events; tie-dying; a Christmas in July party, complete with Santa Claus; pool parties; bingo; kids and adults crafts; a kid’s carnival day; and golf cart parades.

“It’s never the same type of [event] happening here,” Hagofsky said.

A variety of events also are planned at Bear Run Campground in Portersville.

Todd Wehr, co-owner and guest experience manager at Bear Run Campground in Portersville, said the campground has multiple events this summer, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day breakfasts and crafts, and Memorial Day weekend plans with an animal show and live music.

Additionally, the campground will hold a birthday weekend celebration for Moraine State Park’s 54th birthday from May 31 to June 2, said Wehr, who began working at Bear Run when the campground first opened in 1975 and has been a full-time employee since 1990.

At both campgrounds, guests can enjoy multiple outdoor activities, such as swimming in a heated pool; playing at the playground; sitting around the communal fire pits; playing volleyball and basketball; fishing and boating; kayaking; canoeing; and paddle boarding.

Hagofsky has also added a pickleball court to his campground.

“That’s a new feature that’s coming to the campground that people are really excited about [since] pickleball is definitely the newest biggest craze,” Hagofsky said.

Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, places flowers in the flower garden as part of his preparation for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Tips for new campers

With so many new faces, Hagofsky and Wehr want to spread the memory-making joy that is camping, as well as tips and rules campers should follow.

“Find out what the campground requires. Every campground is different,” Hagofsky said. “[For example], we require proof of pet vaccination records, not every campground does that.”

Both owners urge first-time campers to ask for help, as needed.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most campers are responsive and enjoy sharing their knowledge and lending a hand, if needed,” Wehr said.

In addition to what campers should know when booking and checking in, what they should bring varies due to the weather.

“Remember to bring the basic essential gear and layers of clothing, especially in the spring and throughout the fall as temperature and precipitation can play a big role in the experience,” Wehr said. “Firewood is available at the camp store and usually can provide items you may have left behind.”

While having fun this season, it is important to be courteous to campground staff and neighboring campers.

“Don’t cut through people’s campsites, that’s been a courtesy camping rule forever and always,” Hagofsky said. “Be courteous of the kids and everyone around you.”

Cleaning up after yourself and your family makes it easier for the employees and is vital to keeping the great outdoors beautiful.

“Keep your RV site, tent site or cabin clean and tidy,” Wehr said. “When you depart, leave no trace.”

With so many new families camping for the first time, families with young children should always keep an eye on them to avoid injury.

“Campgrounds can be very busy with golf carts and cars, watch them and be with them,” Hagofsky said. “I encourage everybody that camps with us to walk through our entire campground and be very familiar with where you’re at because it’s all new to you, especially if you’ve never been here before.”

Wehr suggests having young children help pack for the trip and getting them involved in setting up camp by giving them a simple task.

“They might just enjoy the opportunity to help to establish their new abode,” Wehr said.

Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, places flowers in the flower garden as part of his preparation for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Choosing a camper

For new campers or seasoned campers who want to upgrade their camping equipment, the two biggest determinants in choosing the right camper or permanent park model are figuring out how many people need to sleep there and what kind of vehicle is needed to tow it.

According to Kathi Rasely, the office manager at B&R Camper Sales in Summit Township, younger families typically choose campers that are between 24 and 29 feet long.

“People that are downsizing [go] to 22 to 24 feet,” Rasely said. “When I have people going permanent, they are buying 32-foot to-park models.”

Campers at B&R Camper Sales have bed sizing options, including queen-size beds or bunk beds. Their camper options also include varying kitchen and shared living space sizes.

“Virtually all of the trailers have the same amenities, such as awnings, microwaves, surround sound,” Rasely said. “Some just have more bells and whistles than others.”

Rita Hagofsky, who is in charge of groundskeeping at Buttercup Woodlands Campground, mows the grass around campsites to prepare for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, moves picnic tables at a campsite to prepare for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle
Jacob Hagofsky, owner of Buttercup Woodlands Campground, prepares the arcade that will be available to campers for the upcoming camping season, on Tuesday, April 30. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

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