“Glamping” in the Laurel Highlands

It’s a bit if a lame name- Glamping- “glamorous camping” and it sounds sissified to real adventurers, but let me tell you, it is one cool experience. It is LIVING outdoors- cooking, eating, bathing, in the open air, surrounded by nature and beauty. Breezes pass through and birds dart and flit, hummingbirds zip about on their way to and from the many strategically placed bird feeders, while the cooing of the mourning doves fills the air with soothing peace. And “out there,” in the distance is the magnificent view of the Laurel Ridge and the Youghigheny River gap. You can watch the light change on the mountain as you do the dishes or stir your supper or soak in the clawfoot tub- nothing impedes your view. At the 65-acre Campbell Farm www.campbellfarmglamping.com in the Fort Hill area of the beautiful Laurel Highlands, Somerset County, glamping appeals to almost anyone, but especially those of us who love the natural world and can’t get enough of it.

I was attracted to the whole idea of Glamping when I saw the photos on their website. The large canvas wall tent reminded me of my fond memories of “camping” in the Tanzania bush. But Todd and I were even more impressed when we arrived. A wagon sits by the parking area to pull your belongings over the grassy hill to your secluded camp spot. A constant breeze blew so bugs were never an issue. Gas stove, fridge, tub and bathroom, are all completely outdoors except for one wall to each “room.’ The bedroom is separate, inside the large 12 x 12 foot screened in wall tent, complete with queen sized bed (mattress warmers which we did not need in August!), oak night stands, electric lights, rugs etc.

In the evening after dinner, we sat on the 8 x 12 foot porch in our bath robes and sipped wine after going for a walk on the many mowed paths around the 1786 historic Campbell Farm. That was after we soaked in the tub listening to coyotes and screech owls call and watched a doe and her two fawns come out to feed as well as watch the fingernail moon rise in the night sky It was all so very lovely. I sat there and realized how little of “my stuff” that I really need. I was aware of how little stuff we really need to be happy from all my experience backpacking all my life. But for whatever reason, we tend to gravitate INSIDE when we are at home- that is where our STUFF is. But I told my husband that I want him to think about building an outdoor sleeping space and a cooking space. We already have a few picnic tables that we drag every meal out to when the weather is nice and “Nice” is stretched into the “shoulder” seasons.

Glamping made me want to live outdoors. Maybe if I lived in this style, I would not long to go away so much and leave my home and my stuff- if I pared living at home down to essentials and much of that was spent outside when weather permitted.
“The way to avoid housework is to live outdoors.” Glamping proves that to us. With an experience like glamping, Todd and I were ready to go home- throw out STUFF, live and work outside as much as we could. Outside we are happiest. Glamping reminded us of that. Being in nature does not have to be reserved for outdoor adventures, it can encompass every day living. Many who vacation here at Campbell Farm see it as a get away and must return to a life in an urban area. But for people like us, it can be a life changer.

(This story will appeared in Pennsylvania Magazine. Download a PDF here: farm stay glamping article mj2016 pa magazine

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5 thoughts on ““Glamping” in the Laurel Highlands Leave a comment

  1. Yes, the Glamping approach has many advantages as a travel market segment for visitors and providers. Two primary goals that Teri and I saw while trying to pioneer Glamping along the route to Yosemite since 2005 were 1) Bring visitors who were hesitant to immerse themselves in nature to feel more comfortable in the transition while learning about rural communities as well, and 2) to bring a premium pricing product development opportunity to the agritourism, geotourism, and ecotourism possibilities for local ranchers/farmers trying to keep from going broke while maintaining stewardship of their land. We started petitioning local county supervisors, serving on agritourism policy boards, traveling around the county, region and state. We also spent a great deal of time and our own money investing in the environmental challenges of our ranch, Birders Homestead, from 2005. After 8 years of investment of our time and energy we were forced to give up because the onerous restrictions imposed by the County of Mariposa made it unavoidably unprofitable to create this kind of business on Agriculture Exclusive (AE) zoned land under their jurisdiction. The politics of it were extremely ugly and costly due to the political stranglehold of some old family groups in the county. It’s a shame because we really looked forward to having visitors share the kind of outdoors and cultural heritage trip you enjoyed at this Laurel Highlands. Instead, as you know, Cindy, we donated half the ranch to the Sierra Foothill Conservancy as part of the John Muir Highway Geotourism project and sold the remaining 83 acres last year to a local rancher.

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