Firework Shows for 2020 in Somerset County

Due to the current situation, there have been a lot of cancellations for events and firework shows all over America. Somerset County and surrounding areas have been no different (thanks coronavirus…) But you shouldn’t fret, there have been communities, businesses, and organizations that have come together to keep these yearly traditions of firework celebrations happening! I mean really, what is the 4th of July without fireworks? There are quite a few options this weekend for you to go see some fireworks and enjoy some other great entertainment. You may have to travel a little, but not too far (plus I think it’s worth it for a great show!)

Independence Day at the Castle
Vinoski Winery in Belle Vernon, PA has a celebration planned for Friday, July 3rd. This event will include music, food, fireworks, and of course, FUN! Jukebox Band will be providing entertainment while local restaurants provide the food. They do ask for a $20 parking donation and the owners will be matching the donations for local charities. Check out their Facebook Event (linked above) for more information.

Fourth of July Weekend at Greenhouse Winery
Greenhouse Winery in Irwin, PA is having events the entire weekend. Friday, July 3rd will kick off the events with music by Ruffhouse from 6:30 – 9:30 pm and great food on site for this 21+ event with fireworks to follow! Then on Saturday the 4th, there will be more music by Tim & Stacey from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. On Sunday there is a Bloody Mary Bar and music by Jim O’Brien. Check out the link above for more information on these fun weekend events!

Here Comes the Boom! Drive-In Fireworks Show
A FREE fireworks show to attend at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds. The owner of Wisneski’s Waste Management decided that the show MUST go on and he will be putting off the fireworks himself. This is socially distanced show where they ask families to stay in, on, or around their vehicles. The gates open at 7 pm, with the show beginning at 10 pm! The fairgrounds are only 23 miles from Hickory Hollow, so this would be a perfect opportunity to get out and see some great fireworks. Facebook event linked above for more information.

Jennerstown Speedway Racing and Fireworks
Click the link above for more information. This racing night at Jennerstown Speedway will include a 200 Lap Super Late Model race and a 100 Lap Pro Late Model race, followed by a giant fireworks display afterwards! Tickets are available at carsracingtour.com. The general admission is $20 for advance tickets or $25 at the gate.

America’s County Freedom Fireworks Show
Even though Somerset’s normal fireworks show was cancelled, our community pulled together and is putting the show on at Somerset Country Club on Sunday, July 5th. Fireworks by Little Big Shots and other local businesses and organizations. The Red, White, and Boom 4th of July Celebration will take place at 9:30 pm, so make sure you find a nice place to watch the show go on!

If you want to get out and see some fireworks, I hope this list gave you some different ideas on where you can go. Each of these places are in relatively close distance to Hickory Hollow Campground, so you can enjoy our weekend activities during the days and check out the other fireworks in the evening.

Beginner Camper Tips

Are you a first-time camper? I only started camping within the last couple years, but I am by no means an expert camper (and I don’t have the luxury of an RV yet, but hopefully in the future). I looked up some good tips for beginners if you’re a tent camper and new to the camping scene. These ideas could come in handy for anyone though. By the way, Hickory Hollow Campground is a great place for beginner campers (or any campers really!)

The tips I am going to share are things that I have taken into consideration while camping and I hope that they can be helpful to other campers as well. This will hopefully make your planning and camping trip less stressful and much more relaxing.

Whenever we camp, we only plan for a weekend. So these tips are directed more towards short stays, but can be adapted if you plan to stay somewhere for more than just a weekend.

Tip #1
Plan Ahead

I am OCD when it comes to planning for trips, even if it is just for a short weekend trip. I don’t like waiting until the last minute, because I know that I will forget something (usually it’s important too.) It’s stressful to wait until the last minute to plan and pack (unless it’s a spur of the moment trip.) So to make it easier on you and everyone else, plan what you will need to take before you leave. I personally love to make lists. This way I can physically see what I need to pack and I can mark it off as I go.

If there is anything that you are able to pack ahead of time, that you aren’t going to need before you leave for the trip, then PACK IT! If you do this the weekend (or a few days) before your trip, that is less you will have to worry about when you are getting ready to head out! Some items you may be able to pack ahead of time are: bedding, tents, bags, cooking gear, and any non-perishable food items you plan to take. Organize it and have it ready to go, so you aren’t scrambling as the last minute. If you are planning to pack any perishable food – try to buy it before the day of the trip so you can avoid stopping while traveling and you can pack them into coolers on the day of. For the items you can’t pack ahead of time, make a list that you will see or even set a reminder on your phone so you aren’t forgetting anything!

Tip #2
Pack Light

I am so terrible at this, but that’s why it is a good tip! Try to avoid packing things with the “just in case” mindset. Take time to think about what you will be doing while you are away. There’s no need to pack extra activities or equipment whenever you won’t have time to use them, so think about what you have time to do during your short getaway and if you have the space for what you plan to do.

Tip #3
Keep Your Menu Simple

If you are planning a trip with a few groups of people, the best option is to share the meal planning. Split the responsibilities up so each group is in charge of a meal (or however you see fit to divide up the work.) That way each family is in charge of packing, prepping, and making a meal and all the work isn’t put on one person. This means less packing and more sharing of the preparation load when it comes to meals and the best thing of all – less work for EVERYONE! This is how we do our camping, each “family” going is in charge of certain parts of our meals and it makes it much easier on everyone and if there is anything specific we want aside from the meals we handle it ourselves.

If you’re camping by yourself (or in a single group), choose meals that you are comfortable making. You’re camping to relax, not give yourself more work to do. Avoid any meals that cause you to slave over the campfire for hours, making it less likely for you to enjoy yourself.

Tip #4
Check the Weather

This is a tip for any time that you are planning to go camping. Weather can be a pain when you’re camping since you are spending the majority of the time outside! I know that it’s not always 100% accurate and if it is bad weather, it could cause your entire trip to change. So always check the weather ahead of time (mid-week before you trip is usually good.) I also check again the day before in case I need to pack anything to prepare for some types of weather that are manageable while camping.

Tip #5
Stay Close to Home

This tip isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s perfect for beginner campers. This is something that I personally do (who am I kidding, I have ONLY camped at Hickory Hollow, so I may be a little biased…lol.) If you’re local to Rockwood, PA then this is the perfect option for you to get away for a weekend too! By staying closer to home, there is much less stress about traveling. You don’t have to worry as much about arrival and departure time, and it makes planning a breeze! You can get outdoors quicker and relax sooner (even if it’s just a short 1-2 day stay).

If you’re not local to Hickory Hollow Campground, then look into campground in your area and if you’re able to book ahead then do that! It makes it easier to secure your spot to ensure that you have a place to stay. If you don’t know exactly where it is located, then take some time before your trip to look up the directions and familiarize yourself, so there is less stress while traveling.

These are just a few tips to hopefully make our beginner campers feel a little less stressed about camping and Hickory Hollow is the perfect place for beginners! We have lots of things to do, plus it peaceful and relaxing here 24/7. If you want to know more about our campground, follow us on our social media accounts and Youtube Channel!

Tips for Camping in the Rain

I don’t know what everyone else thinks, but to me it seems like it has been raining more than anything else this camping season and it makes me sad. BUT, that doesn’t mean that you can’t camp – it just might take a few extra preparation steps. I’m going to share some of the things you could do to prepare yourself more and also what Hickory Hollow provides to plan your trips accordingly (even if rain is in the forecast.) This blog is tailored more towards our tent campers or anyone who isn’t necessarily a RV camper, but anyone is welcome to check them out!

Location
Make sure you are choosing a good location to camp. Hickory Hollow offers cabins (Rustic and Full-Service) that make a great option for dry camping, plus they are beautiful and have a breathtaking view of our lake right out the door! There are also Conestoga Wagons that we started last year and these are a huge hit with campers. They keep you up off the ground and are covered (we even added a window for airflow!) These are a great choice for anyone who wants a different experience camping!

Now that I told you what Hickory Hollow provides, there are also other tips you should consider when choosing a location to camp (even if it isn’t with us.)

Find an area on higher ground with trees overhead (these will come in handy when it comes to hanging tarps – which I will get to in a little bit.) Avoid lower areas that can collect run-off or become flooded with heavy rain. We actually moved our tent sites at Hickory Hollow from a low to a high point at the campground which is much better when trying to avoid the rain!

Rain Free Space
Create a rain-free area using tarps, paracord and the trees above you. This will make a great shelter for gathering, cooking, or simply relaxing. Even if it isn’t raining, this creates a nice shaded area for you to set up (plus it’s not a bad idea to keep your cooking area sheltered too.)

If it is raining while you are trying to set up camp, hang a tarp above where you plan to set up your tent. This will help keep you and your tent dry while putting it up.

If you have an extra tarp, it’s also good to put one underneath your tent before you set it up. This can give you tent a little extra protection from water on the ground and prevent it from getting rips and tears from anything on the ground.

Wet Clothing or Gear
Sometimes the rain is unavoidable which can result in wet clothing and gear, so of course you’ll need a way to dry them. If you set up a tarp covering, you can then add a drying line to hang up your wet clothes and gear to dry.

Campfires
I know you’re thinking it is impossible to make a campfire in the rain, right? Well there are options to make this a little easier on you. Campfires are essential for camping when it comes to cooking and heat, so there are ways to make a fire even when it’s raining. Of course if you make a tarp cover high enough up that it is safe to make a fire, that is always a good option. Trees make decent covering too, but if everything is wet, how do you think you are going to make fire?

There are some waterproof fire starter options like waterproof matches and lighters, but we know that’s not all you will need to start a fire.

Starting with Tinder (because wet tinder won’t help you at all) check underneath pine trees, you may have to do a little digging, but you may be able to find some dry pine needles that make great tinder for fires. You can also make your own by finding the driest log you can, pealing off the bark (hoping that the wood underneath is dry) you can then use a knife to scrape at the wood to create thin shavings that can burn quick and hot! If you don’t like that option, you can also pack your own waterproof tinder (which you can find on Amazon or other places that handing camping equipment) that is good to pack in your emergency/survival kit.

Next you need Kindling, which like tinder can be found under trees or you can also find branches or twigs to scrape down to find dry wood beneath the surface.

When it comes to fuel wood, yes there are ways to find it outdoors (which you can look into if you’re camping at a more rugged terrain), but at Hickory Hollow we have you covered on the wood to fuel the fire. We sell bundles of wood for $5.00 to our campers and it is kept dry (plus it’s already split for you!) This makes the idea of finding large, dry pieces of wood a little less tedious on our campers.

Here are a few other quick and easy tips to remember if your camping gets hindered by the rain:
– Pack Ponchos or Raincoats to protect yourself from the weather
– Emergency Rain suits for your survival kits for those seriously wet situations
– Waterproof backpacks or a backpack rain cover to keep your items dry

If you have any other tips or trick to camping in the rain, feel free to leave us a comment! If there are any other blog topics that you would like me to write about for the campground, please let me know and I will do my best to incorporate it into our blog!

Thanks for reading!

What do People think of Hickory Hollow Campground?

I’ve gone on and on about how I feel about our campground and how much our campers and staff care about it, but I know not everyone believes what they hear. Well let me tell you something, we have lots of great reviews of people who have stayed at our campground over the years. Maybe you’ll believe the reviews over what I say, maybe not, but let me tell you I am so proud of what has been said that I want to share it with all of you too!

I’m only going to hit on a few reviews (mostly because there are so many) and you can go check out more at the sites that I mention if what I give you isn’t enough to convince you to stay at Hickory Hollow. We receive reviews from a few different sources, the most popular ones being Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. We are also a part of Campground Reviews. I have shared most of the ones that I will post below on our social accounts too, but I know not everyone sees posts all of the time (now there’s no excuse! lol).

Also, we are always looking for ways to improve and make our campers stay better any way that we can so if you have never left a review for us, please feel free to do so. That way others know what you think about the campground as well! The reviews I will be posting are all positive, but we are always open to new ideas and thoughts from others. You can click the links below to leave a review or read other reviews!

Google 4.6/5 Stars
TripAdvisor 5/5 Stars Ranked #1 Specialty Lodging in Rockwood, PA
Facebook Reviews 4.9/5 Stars
Campground Reviews

2020
2020
2020
2020
2019 Reviews
2019
2019
2019
2019
2019

Hopefully these few reviews sway you to come check out our campground in Rockwood, PA. I’m not going to go on and on this time, because I feel like these reviews speak volumes for Hickory Hollow Campground!

If you haven’t reviewed us yet, please do! Your review may show up on our socials and help us gain even more campers and we are always welcoming new people. Thank you all for being loyal and caring campers. We are so lucky to have such a great group of people at Hickory Hollow!

Always at home, wherever you roam.

If you’ve ever gone camping, one of the best parts about it is making your campsite home-y for yourself no matter how long you are camping for. There are lots of great ways to go about doing this and our seasonal campers (even some of our overnighters!) are pros at making their campsites their home away from home. I have put together a few ways that I have seen our campers make their sites home-y that could help you spruce up your campsite the next time you’re out!

All photos were taken at Hickory Hollow Campground.

Make people feel welcome
You can make your site welcoming to other campers with a few simple touches. Just like you put at your house, why not decorating your site with welcome signs, mats, or even flags that invite people to your site. This shows that you are open and willing to have people hang out at your site.

Inviting Outdoor Space
Your outdoor space is the most important area (in my opinion.) This is where you gather to eat, spend time together, play games, visit with others, or just relax. There are so many ways to make it comfortable and inviting for other, as well as yourself. You’re patio area is open for creativity! Find your favorite patio furniture and make it comfy! There are campground rugs that really tie the space together and they are made to let sunlight through, and they don’t hold water. Hammocks are another great addition to your campsite. They make a comfy area for you to sit and relax (which is what camping is all about, right?) Don’t forget about those pets though! It wouldn’t be very home-y without them. You can include them with pet-friendly items like ties and mobile play yards that keep them safe. If you have a seasonal site a fence is also an option or having a built in patio area.

Decorations
The best way to make your home feel inviting and comfortable is to decorate it of course! So why wouldn’t you want to do the same at your campsite? You can show off your style and interests while making your campsite comfortable and an enjoyable place to be. Another simple way to do this is to dress up the table. You can easily do this by putting a table cloth on (vinyl ones come in many different patterns and are easy to clean!) Then add an extra touch by putting a centerpiece on the table. This could be a great way to get the kids involved! Have them go on a scavenger hunt and use items from nature to build your own centerpiece. This will not only look cute, but it is a great conversation starter too!

Lighting
I know this could be lumped in with decor, but I have seen so many creative lights used around our campground and they are such a nice touch! Everything from fun solar lights that can be put around the camper or fire pits. Tiki torches can give a really fun look to the site. There are also rope lights and really cool string lights that you can hang on your campers or in the trees! Our campers have been creative with their lights and they always look so good! We have even had events where campers can create their own Puzzle Lights to hang up!

Christmas in July 2019
Christmas in July 2019
Puzzle Lights

Do home activities/routines
What better way to make your campsite feel like home, than to treat it like it is and continue with your normal activities and routines while camping? There are a lot of ways to do this. Bring actual dishes to use, because it definitely feels more like home when you’re using a real plate and glass. Keep up with your normal routines. If you like to get up early and drink a cup of coffee, then do it! Take it outside and enjoy the outdoors too. Not a coffee drinker? Then mix drinks at night and invite your friends to join. You can sit outside and talk while enjoying a campfire! Cooking is important at camp and home, so enjoy making meals. They don’t have to be camping meals, you can try out some non-traditional camp meals at the campsite too. You can have fun too. Hold a game night and play outside.

Celebrate Holidays outside
This isn’t necessarily something to do to your campsite, but more of what you can do at the campground or just at your site. Hickory Hollow always provides fun activities to get involved in during the weekends, the holiday weekends especially. This is a great way to get involved and meet others. You can also create your own holidays or traditions that you have while you’re camping! I have seen graduation parties, birthdays, and so much more. Lots of people create camping traditions, so why haven’t you?

Anna’s birthday on Memorial Day!
Christmas in July 2019

We hope this gives you some great ideas on how to make your campsite a little more like home. If you have other recommendations please feel free to leave them in a comment below!

What’s in store for this Holiday Weekend?

Most of us can agree that Memorial Day Weekend is the “unofficial” start to summer, especially for anyone who camps with us at Hickory Hollow Campground. Memorial Day Weekend is our first big holiday weekend, which we have tons of great activities planned at the campground. Camping has made a huge comeback during these difficult times, because what better way is there to social distance?

Even though we would love to run our activities like we have in the past, due to the situation we are all dealing with, we have to adapt and make our activities safer and socially distanced in order to keep our staff and campers healthy. I know you’re wondering how in the world we are doing this on a big holiday weekend, especially when our campground is booked. It wasn’t easy, and who knows some of our activities may not work out, but that’s the fun in it right? We have to adapt and make it work, so trial and error is okay! We all work together to make this happen and I am hopeful for a great weekend.

I know you want to know about our activities, so I won’t make you wait any longer. I’m not going to bore you with all of the details, but I’d like to highlight a few of our activities that we have adjusted for safe, social distancing while still providing our campers with fun things to do while staying at Hickory Hollow. If you’d like to see a specific schedule, check our events on our Facebook Page. So here is a little rundown on what we have planned:

  • “Make your own beanbag” Corn Toss Tournament: This is always a camper favorite, so we wanted to find a way to keep it on the schedule, but in a safer manner. Since you would be using the same bean bags as others, this served as an unsafe option, so we adapted. We are providing a pair of socks (and corn shell to fill them) to each person playing. That way everyone has their own and no one has to touch the other players bean bags. We are hoping to do this a few times during the season, so if it works out great!
  • “Site Rainbows” Scavenger Hunt: This is a twist on the Teddy Bear Hunt I have seen in certain towns. Our campers love scavenger hunts and this was a way to get more people involved, as well as give the campers a chance to create their own art for the scavenger hunt. If you want to see my instructions (& my own art) on this, you can watch my video here.
  • Golf Cart/ Lawn Chair Bingo: Our campers are huge fans of bingo, but it’s not a very socially distanced activity when you are all packed together in a pavilion. We had to think really hard about how to fix this, because this not an activity we wanted to lose, so we came up with something that I think is truly ingenious. A lot of our campers have golf carts that they use at the campground (and if they don’t they can just bring a lawn chair), so we have opened up the field next to the pavilion for our campers. They will be parked or seated 6 feet apart and we will use a microphone to announce the numbers.
  • Mobile DJ Poosa (click name to go to FB Page): We can’t take credit for coming up with this idea, but we are going to use it and support one of our campers! Jason Ruzich created his Mobile DJ business during this difficult time and he has agreed to provide his services to our campers too. How this works is: campers will direct message or text their song requests and site numbers to me (Tika) and I will pass that info on to DJ Poosa, he will then drive around the campground and stop at sites to play songs and their requests. This is probably my favorite activity that is planned and I cannot wait to see how it works out.

So, even though the times are tough, camping is still your best bet to get out of the house and practice some safe social distancing, plus have some fun at the same time. We are fully booked for this weekend, but we have a lot of great events planned for the future weekends this summer. Get your reservations in now and come see us at Hickory Hollow Campground.

Adapting to New Norms

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. We have been dealing with the current situation for well over a month now, and that means that some of us are finally adapting to some new normalities in our lives. Whether you think it is a good idea or not, there have been tons of changes with what we once knew as our daily routines. That is because most of us are itching to get some sort of normalcy in our lives, so we adapt. Even though it can be hard to see anything good come out of a tragic time like now, there is a silver lining to it all (you may just have to look a little harder for it and I may have a solution for you.)

Crazy to think that something good can come out of something so bad, right? Not really. If you’re looking in the right direction, there is always something good to come out of the bad. It may not happen right away, but it’s always there waiting for you to find it. We might even be able to help you find it!

PSA: This is an opinion, not necessarily fact and is also based on our area.

Before this year, I am sure that most of us have never heard of “social distancing” and this has now been a phrase used by most people on the daily (even those who are essential and have been working during everything.) I feel like this is going to be a regularly used phrase for the unforseeable future. What does that mean? Smaller gatherings of people, less touching – I’m sad to say that the days of handshakes and hugs when you see someone will fade out, so first impressions will be a little different now – but don’t let me get you down. Like I said before, there is a silver lining to all of this. Even though the gatherings won’t be a large, it doesn’t mean that they won’t happen at all.

In Pennsylvania, privately-owned campgrounds were allowed to open as of May 1st. We had people staying with us that weekend! See…silver lining. The gatherings are much smaller, but families are getting out and spending time together. The change of scenery helps immensely. There are plenty of ways to social distance at a campground and the fresh air does everyone good!

The orders have caused some difficutly for certain aspects at campgrounds though, like the activities. One of the highlights of camping is doing the activities they provide and with the social distancing orders it is a little more difficult to make these activities happen. We aren’t giving up though and neither are other campgrounds that we have been following! I, personally, have enjoyed seeing all of the creative ways that campgrounds are interacting with their campers (and I’ve been trying a few of my own, so make sure you check out all of Hickory Hollow Campground’s social accounts!) Campgrounds have been adapting to the situation and people are responding so well.

Another big positive, people have been coming together. Amongst the bad, I have never seen so many people coming together and helping one another out. It’s amazing to see and humbling knowing that there is some good in the bad. Everything from supporting small businesses, offering services, or even making masks (which I feel is going to be another norm for a while…) There has been people coming out of the works who have been working so hard to keep others going.

Just keep in mind that there is always good, even when it may not be easy to see amongst the hard times. If you want to know what you can do to help, here’s a few simple ideas to help out:

  • Support small businesses (like campgrounds, plus it’s nice to get outside!)
  • Check on your family, friends, and neighbors (especially if they are alone during this time)
  • Check on your essential people – they are just as stressed out, maybe even more!
  • Take care of yourself! You’re not good for anyone else if you don’t make sure you’re taken care of first!

Just because we are having to adapt to a new normal, doesn’t mean that we can’t live our lives. Get out there, spend some time with family, and go camping! Always remember, the Great Outdoors is never canceled!

Self Care While Social Distancing

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I know, I know it sounds ridiculous in the current situation, but there is one thing that is extremely important during this time (and at all times for that matter) and that is SELF CARE! Your mind, body, and emotions should be your number 1 priority and honestly what better time to focus on yourself than during a stay at home order?

These are such trying times and everyone (literally everyone) is having to deal with the changes and uncertainty that goes along with it. Every person that I have talked to during the last few weeks has been dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and so many other concerns that threaten our self preservation. The best way to prevent these issues from taking over our lives is by practicing self care DAILY (yes, these are things you need to take the time to do every single day.) I’m going to go into a few different areas of self-care that I feel are important for every person to do.

Body
Our bodies need taken care of during this time, that’s no lie to any of us. I’m sure some of you are feeling sluggish and exhausted from being stuck at home and limiting your activities (trust me I am too), but there are solutions to taking care of our bodies from the comfort of our homes (or RVs). The most important task are really just the basics that every person needs in order to live. Make sure you are eating, drinking water, and moving your body. These don’t have to be daunting tasks like they may have been before. You can make them specific to what you enjoy. When it comes to food, I know it’s tempting to eat all of those quarantine snacks (I am bad for this) but usually it is solely out of boredom, which I am sure is the case for a lot of you too. So in order to change this action to something that keeps you busy. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk (safely social distancing of course), play a game, color, draw, seriously I could go on and on with different activities to help you. So put that junk food down and go do something else! -If you want ideas for social distancing outside, go read my last blog Social Distancing in the Great Outdoors.
The next thing our bodies need is water. I am so bad about drinking enough water, especially while being at home, but our bodies NEED it! I know most of us our using our phones regularly, so here’s a challenge for you: every time you pick up your phone to check social media or answer a text or anything really, take a drink of water. This will make you feel so much better in the long run and your body will thank you.
Along with drinking water, we need to make sure we are moving our bodies. It’s so easy to get into a slump sitting on our couches, binge watching the latest Netflix series (I bet Tiger King came into you mind, don’t be ashamed I watched it too), but this isn’t good for your body, mind, or emotions. It’s okay to watch it on occasion, but maybe get moving while watching and eventually you’ll find more reasons to move your body. I personally love doing yoga (and plan to incorporate some into my activities this camping season) and I found that it helps me relax. It also makes my body feel great. I mentioned a few activities that go along with this idea earlier, but it is so important. Trust me, if you make sure you are eating better, drinking enough water, and moving your body, you will feel so much better!

Mind
Personally, I feel like this is one of the hardest parts to work on during this time. There is an abundance of information being put out there for people, some of it being helpful, but a lot of the information is causing a lot of stress, anger, and frustration. I, personally, try to avoid the news and social media that is revolving around the current situation. This does not mean that I am not informed or aware of the changes occurring, it means that I am limiting and researching the information that I am taking in. I wish more people would do this, but that is hard to control. So instead of trying to control it, I am offering some advice on how to go about it. Be careful of the sources you are getting your information from. Limit how much you are reading that is related to the situation. Make sure you are getting a variety of sources to compare and do your research! The reason I try to avoid social media during this time is because this is a HUGE concern. You cannot believe everything you see on the internet (or on tv for that matter) and the ability to share false information has gotten out of hand. There are fake news sites that are being shared and information that people claim as facts that may not be the case at all. All I ask is that you do your research first before believing (or reposting) anything you see on social media. Make sure your sources are legitimate and beneficial. The hearsay on socials is a major cause of stress and anxiety.
Along with these tips, your mind needs taken care of in other ways too! A way to help this is to give yourself a schedule. Times are hard right now and we find ourselves diving deeper and deeper into our electronics, the news, and tv right now, so break those habits. Make your life feel somewhat normal again and make a schedule. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or go into detail with every single thing you should do in the day, but a basic schedule will help you (and your family) survive the stir craze that I am sure is consuming your lives. One thing I will suggest to add to your schedule is that you cut out any type of technology (or just cut out your research/social media intake) before you go to bed. This is easily something that can help improve your sleep in general, which who doesn’t like getting a good night’s rest?
Another suggestion for improving your mental state is making sure that you are connecting with others. There are so many ways to go about this with technology and it is so beneficial for everyone. We are in a state of isolation and so are others. Take this time to reach out and check on the people you care about, it not only helps you but will help them feel better too. Be intentional, and reach out to others. Even if it’s just to see how someone else is doing, I’m sure it will make both of you feel so much better and not so isolated during this time.

Emotions
I know it seems like emotions should go hand in hand with mind, but I feel like our emotions are something we need to focus on specifically at times and can also be one of the hardest things to control (especially right now). One thing that everyone should be aware of is that we may not be able to control the current situation, but it WILL get better. Find some positive aspects of the current situation. Change is inevitable in any situation, it is a part of life, which we are all aware of (even if we don’t like the idea of it.) Look at the bigger picture of the stressful situation and remind yourself of the good that is happening. People are working together and being more helpful. You’re able to spend more time with your family at home having family dinners, playing games, and making memories that you may not have had time to do before.
During all of this, make sure you are paying attention to your needs and feelings. Everyone has them and is entitled to them. You’re allowed to feel what you want during this time, but that doesn’t mean to push it onto others either. It’s okay to get your feelings out, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings as well. A good way to get your feelings and emotions out is by writing them down. I try to journal regularly to get thoughts out of my head. That way I am not dwelling on them and I can move on to other thoughts. Use this opportunity to discover yourself. Self-discovery is important. You may learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before and you can try things that you haven’t had a chance to (within reason of course.) So why not listen to your emotions and thoughts in order to find out things about yourself. This can be liberating and help you grow as an individual in so many ways.

We take self-care for granted and it is so important to make sure we are happy and healthy in every way possible right now. That means taking time for you and making sure that your needs are met.

Social Distancing in the Great Outdoors!

As each of us try to find our way during these uncertain times, it is nice to think that the great outdoors is still available to us (depending on your circumstance it may be easier for some than others, but there are always options!) I hope this post can bring some ease to anyone willing to get out there and enjoy everything that the great outdoors still has to offer.

Before I get into any tips for social distancing, there are some precautions you should take prior to venturing outside. Please be sure to follow any official guidelines put in place by the CDC, and your state officials. Some of the general rules are staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding large groups (10+), wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer, if you do not have access to running water. We want everyone to have a good time, but stay safe and healthy in the process!

Tip #1 Avoid areas that are popular
Try going somewhere near home (if possible) that is not largely populated. A lot of State parks have a large amount of trails which is great, however during this time a lot of people tend to flock to those areas. Try finding a less taken trail if you plan on going to a park. If this is not an option for you, hang out in your backyard or any wooded area near your home (be sure to be prepared for bugs though! especially ticks!!!) If you don’t have a backyard or a wooded area nearby, just take a walk around your block. The fresh air and scenery will do wonders for your mood!

Tip #2 Limit what you touch
If you are out an about, avoid making any unnecessary stops. If you need to stop somewhere make sure you take the time to wash your hands regularly. Try to avoid going to any stores or anywhere that could be populated with people (much like tip #1).

Tip #3 Stick with your immediate family
The best people for you to hang out with right now are those who are within your household. For their safety, as well as others it is better to limit being with people outside of your home. This is the best time to find things to do with the people in your home that you don’t normally get to do. Plan a picnic in your backyard or go on a scavenger hunt. As long as you are following guidelines, you can do all kinds of activities with your family. This is a much safer option for you and your family.

Tip #4 Be Aware
Make sure you are staying up to date with any closures or regulations being put into place. Do you research first. There may be areas near you perfect for getting out and social distancing, but please be considerate of others who may be doing the same. Check into some of your favorite places to see if they have any options for you to do without putting yourself or anyone else at risk.

Tip #5 Plan ahead
If you don’t have the option of getting outside, this is the perfect opportunity for you to plan your next vacation. Do some research and look into areas you have always wanted to go and see. You may even have some virtual options to check out that give you a lot of information or that let you tour the area you’re interested in. You may not be able to reserve places and activities, but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead so that your future endeavors can be perfect and fun for everyone!

Now I understand that not all of these are possible for every person, but even if one person gets anything out of this it is a plus. The most important fact is that everyone is healthy and safe during this time. We hope that the circumstances get resolved sooner rather than later, but we never know what the future may hold.

Tractors, Trucks, Crowns & Steam – Come on out to the New Centerville Jubilee!

Do you enjoy that fresh country air? The incredible taste of fresh apple cider? What about spending quality time with friends and neighbors? I know I do, and I know many of the campers at Hickory Hollow do as well. But did you know there’s a jubilee that happens only a mile up the road from the campground? And it is happening NEXT WEEK! How exciting right?

This year the New Centerville Volunteer Fire Company is holding their 67th annual Farmers and Threshermens Jubilee beginning on Wednesday September 4th and continuing through Sunday September 8th. If you’re familiar with Hickory Hollow, just make a right out of the campground and it’s only a mile up the road, on the right-hand side. If you’re not familiar with the area, you can still come and check it out. Just take Exit 110 – Somerset off of the PA Turnpike and take Route 281 South, 9 miles to New Centerville. The Jubilee is part of the “4 Fall Festivals” of the Laurel Highlands, so you know it’s going to be a fun time.

As a former Jubilee Queen (Queen XXXI in 2009), I like to think that I know a good bit about the activities that occur and not to mention it’s the mark of the beginning of my favorite time of year…fall. I mean how can you not think fall when there is fresh apple cider being pressed right on the fair grounds?! That’s definitely not all that the Jubilee has to offer though.

Kick off the fun with the annual parade that takes place on Wednesday evening (Sept. 4) and delivers the crowd right into the heart of the Jubilee. There’s so much to see during this parade from floats, to firetrucks, and they even bring out the Steam Engines to ride through the parade. It’s an incredible experience you don’t want to miss. Bring your kids out and let them get some candy from the other attractions in the parade. And who knows, you might even get a sneak peak of our Haunted Hollow actors too!

Photo taken from NCRVFC website

As a former queen, you can imagine that one of my favorite parts of the Jubilee is of course, the Queen contest. This takes place at 7:45 pm Wednesday, so follow the parade into the main Jubilee grounds and head in to the stage to watch these girls turn into young women. Aside from being local or volunteering at the Jubilee, these girls must have knowledge about the history of the jubilee, be able to answer questions with ease in front of an audience, pose themselves with poise and grace while walking the stage, and most importantly be able to be a good role model that represents the local fire department and Jubilee. And these girls are only between the ages of 15 and 18! That seems like a lot to handle for such a young girl, but believe me they have incredible talent. So even if you don’t make it to the contest, make sure you stop and say “hello” to the queen and her court sometime during the week as they attend the different jubilee activities. This is an incredible memory that they will never forget, so help become a part of that journey!

2018 Jubilee Queen & King
Lexi Knopsnyder & Jason Johnson

Don’t forget though, the jubilee fun isn’t only 1 night, the fun lasts clear through Sunday. And trust me, you’ll want to come back more than once. There is so much to do and see every night, but it’s okay if you can’t make it more than once. It is still a great experience no matter how long you can stay. Just to give you a glimpse into the Jubilee fun, there’s truck pulls, tractor pulls, broom making, wood carving, there’s animals, including a dog that churns butter! Even if you think you’re not “into” any of these things, I can promise you it is still a great time. Just being able to spend quality time with people who I don’t get to see as often as I like (and trust me you will run into lots of people) is my favorite thing to do at the jubilee (well aside from eating my apple dumpling…yummm).

Photo from NCRVFC website

If this is you’re type of thing, but you aren’t sure what you can do to get involved there are contests that are held and there is something for EVERYONE! Just of few of the contests include: the photo contest, apple pie contest, the scarecrow contest, even a pumpkin painting contest. But if you don’t want to actually make anything, just taking time to go and appreciate the creativity that people put into their art is enough to entertain you.

Honestly though, out of everything that is going on, yes even checking out the dog-powered butter churning (because you know how much I love animals), the absolute best part of the jubilee is spending time with friends and family. Even when I run into someone from my past or even that is on my social media accounts that I don’t see much, I enjoy catching up with them face to face. Our lives are so busy all of the time, this is the perfect opportunity to slow down and enjoy what is happening around us.

Photo from Jubilee Contest fb page

So if you get a chance, make sure you go to the 67th Annual Farmers and Threshermens Jubilee, get some good food, check out the dog churning butter (ok I might be obsessed haha), walk around see all the vendors, and the handy work of the wood carver and broom maker. Then take some time to just walk around and enjoy the commotion. Who knows, you may even run into me there. 🙂

As you all know it’s not free to hold activities and fairs like this, so they do ask for a small $5 donation for adults, but children 12 and under get in for FREE! So not only is it good, wholesome fun, but it’s inexpensive too. If you want more info, or to check out the schedule for the week, go to the NCVFC Website here.