Family – What It Means to Us.

With all of the current circumstances and all of the negativity that is surrounding us in the world today, I wanted to focus on a positive and important factor in all of our lives – family. As most of you probably know, we are a family owned campground, but Hickory Hollow is so much more than that. We are a family, all of us (yes that means you campers!)

I searched for the meaning of family this morning and found a lot of differing definitions and I’ve learned over the years that is the absolute truth. Family doesn’t have to mean your blood relatives (I have some of those that I don’t consider family, but that’s not the point.) I found a great explanation from another blog, which I feel fits our campground perfectly as well.

To me, the word “family” means something very specific. It means to be with people, who understand and accept you without condition. A family can be a small group or a large one, who all support one another. They will help you when you struggle and be there for you in trying times. They also know you as a person; knowing your quirks and habits and how to manage them. As a member of the family, you yourself also contribute. If someone has a problem, you would do your best to listen to understand. Give advice if they ask for it. Usually, others are kind to you if you are kind to them. Blood relatives are commonly seen as a “real family,” but people from different races, backgrounds, and beliefs can also become one. – Jeremy Chriss

Jodi Murphy, What Does Family Mean to You

Now this is just one person’s point of view, there are a few others in the blog mentioned above that give other definitions. This one really hit home for me though, especially with all the issues happening in the world around us. We have been fortunate here in our area to not be directly affected by the physical destruction occurring, but that doesn’t mean that we are not completely sheltered from it all. We are aware of what is going on, but with that being said it makes us much more close knit as a family.

People from all over the country come to stay at our little campground in Rockwood, PA. I am proud to be a part of this community that we have at the campground and I truly believe that we are exactly what a family is, based on the explanation above. Our campers are supportive and caring towards everyone then encounter. They will do anything to help others and work together when need be. We accept new people without hesitation, get to know them and show them what true friends and family really are.

I was amazed during Memorial Day Weekend at how many people just acknowledged me while I was walking around the campground and taking pictures. I know that not everyone knows who I am, so it was heartwarming when every person I passed would smile and wave. In today’s world, it is normal to be afraid while being in public, which is extremely sad. However, at our campground, I feel safe and I know our campers do too. I always see kids out playing and having a great time. Campers gather together at different sites to have dinner and enjoy the company of others. During activities, there are always people involved and working with others. It is an incredible thing to feel safe and welcomed in a community. I may be slightly biased, but Hickory Hollow is definitely my favorite.

I know this isn’t a normal blog post offering advice or fun facts, but I felt like now more than ever that I needed to focus on the large positive that is our campground. I am so proud to work at a place like this where I feel welcome and at home every time that I am here (makes it feel less like work too.)

If you want to be included in our family, then you have to come visit! We have also created a Hickory Hollow Campground Friends Facebook group for anyone who has stayed and loved being at our campground. So if that sounds like something you would like to be included in, make sure you join the group. Click here to request to join, you must answer the questions before we accept your request. This is a group to ask questions, share ideas, pictures, anything you could think of that would be useful for our campground or other campers, all we ask is that it is kept positive for others. I also share our activities and other important information there too, so make sure you check it out if you have camped with us!

I hope this brought a little happiness, joy, and peace into your lives during these times. Please feel free to comment below telling us what you think about family and/or our campground. We love hearing from you!

Thanks for reading!

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.

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!

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.

Eat Like the Locals

During all of this craziness, there is one thing for sure that has seemed to grow within the last few months majorly! I’m sure by the title you can figure out what that is. Restaurants and food industries have had to adapt in order to still provide food services for people (being that food will always be an essential.)They have grown and succeeded greatly in providing food services to their communities. The area local to Hickory Hollow Campground is no different.

I know what you’re thinking, there can’t be many options in such a rural area like this, but you would be incorrect. There are six places I would like to mention in this blog. These restaurants/food services are local to us, but as most of you know, the campground isn’t far from Somerset where there are many more options if these ones do not fulfill your hunger needs. Each of the businesses that I am going to mention have offered alternative arrangements due to the current situation that have satisfied their customers and we hope that they can bring some satisfaction to you too.

Please keep in mind that all hours and services are subject to change. Check out their links for more information.

Zambo’s Country Cottage
This restaurant is only 1.3 miles from the campground (make a right out of the campground entrance and is on the left side) and offers a variety of homemade food! The Country Cottage is open for TAKE-OUT Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Call to order at (814) 926 – 4800.

Dough Girls Pizza
Pizza is always a great go to for a fast meal (but that’s not all they have), and Dough Girls is only 1.6 miles away at 3003 Kingwood Road, Rockwood. This locally owned restaurant is offering TAKE-OUT and DELIVERY options at this time. They are also opened 7 days a week! (hours vary, so check their page for more info.) Call to make an order at (814) 926 -1010.

Rock City Express (no website available)
This is a little more unconventional, but this gas station has more than just your average convenience store. The pizza here is always a big hit with the customers, so I feel like I have to include it in the list! I don’t have much more information other than it is located 4.3 miles from the campground at 1211 Bridge Street, Rockwood. This would be a TAKE-OUT order, and you can call ahead to place your orders. Call (814) 926 – 2117.

Rock City Cafe
This is a family favorite too. What’s better than wings and beer? Not a whole lot in my opinion. The cafe is located 4.6 miles from the campground at 671 Main Street, Rockwood. They are offering TAKE-OUT and DELIVERY at this time. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, so make sure you get your orders! Call (814) 926 – 1009 to order.

Mill Shoppes Pizza
I know I seem to be focusing on pizza, but I promise these places offer other food too, I’m just partial to pizza (lol). Check out their whole menu on their website if you don’t believe me! Mill Shoppes Pizza is located 450 Main Street, Rockwood and are offering TAKE-OUT Monday through Saturday from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Call (814) 926 – 3663 to order.

Hometown Pizza
Last pizza place, I promise! This is a small pizza place located at 905 Main Street, Rockwood. You can see their menu on the Facebook page (it’s their profile picture) to find out all that they have to offer. Their hours are not set entirely yet, as they are attempting a trial run for business. You can help them out by ordering this week (Thursday 5/14 and Friday 5/15) from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Call (814) 926 – 4922 for any additional information or to order!

There is one more opportunity to get a great meal that I am going to mention, because it is only taking place this weekend on May 16, 2020. The Rockwood Fire Department is holding a Chicken BBQ from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and it’s one heck of a deal! For ONLY $10 you get a full meal of BBQ chicken, baked beans, macaroni salad, bread, and cake. Pick up will take place at the fire hall, 630 Main Street, Rockwood. They ask that if you come, please stay in your vehicle and they will assist you.

I hope this helps bring some business to our local restaurants and serves as an outlet for our campers too. Feel free to share with us your favorite meals at these places or pictures from them too. We love hearing from you, especially if we helped you to try something new or revisit somewhere you haven’t been in a while.

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!

Your little home away from home.

I can’t believe that I just realized that I have been writing all of these blogs and telling you what you can be doing during this time, but I have failed to tell you about our campground! The most important piece behind all of my work and everything that I’ve shared with you. I don’t want you to think that I don’t love and appreciate our little campground, when in reality it is my home away from home!

Hickory Hollow Campground is a privately owned campground located in Western, PA. If you’ve ever heard of New Centerville or Rockwood, PA then you’ve probably heard about our campground (or at least you’ve heard about Haunted Hollow which is owned by the same family.) If you’ve never been to the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania, then you are missing out! Our campground is located in such a beautiful area, with tons of great things to see and do without going far. There are plenty of places to get out and adventure nearby.

Just a few places you can check out while visiting us are the trails at Laurel Hill State Park (Pumphouse trail has one of the prettiest waterfalls with public access!), the Flight 93 Memorial (which I have mentioned in an earlier blog), and there are ski resorts with beautiful views and things to do while you’re visiting us. There are also plenty of local restaurants that are still accommodating during this time (just in case you don’t feel like cooking over th fire.) But you don’t have to leave our campground to have a good time or enjoy the peace and beauty of our campground.

The scenery at Hickory Hollow is more tthan just for looks! There are plenty of things to do right on our own piece of land. We have a lake (yes, it does classify as a lake) for fishing, a playground, volleyball net, basketball hoop, a pool, an off-leash dog park for our furry family, and lots of places to walk to enjoy everything nature has to offer. That’s not all though! We offer great activities during our holiday weekends and more activities on regular weekends too. This season may be a little different due to social distancing, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have fun things to do while you’re camping with us!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, I’m just saying all of these things because it’s my job and I have to. Yes, that is true, but that’s not the only reason! We have proof that our campground is great and that we aren’t being biased. If you don’t believe me, believe the people! Our campers have given us so many great reviews on TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook! We have recieved a 4.9/5 on Facebook reviews and 4.6/5 for Google and that’s pretty great if I do say so myself! Some of the biggest comments we get are that Hickory Hollow is peaceful, beautiful, relaxing, and quiet. It is also comfortable, and extremely clean and neat. We take great pride in our cleanliness and upkeep of our campground and we could do it without our staff and campers!

That’s also a big perk of this campground. We treat everyone like family, because that’s what we are. I consider the people here to be my family and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. We work together to keep going even under stressful, uncertain times like now.

So I hope this clears up anything I may have missed when talking about Hickory Hollow Campground, but feel free to ask questions or let me know what else you’d like to read from me.

We are opening for the season TOMORROW!!! MAY 1, 2020 and we are so excited! Book your reservations now, online here or call the office at (814) 926 – 4636.

Staying Connected during Quarantine

Even though we are to be keeping our distance (6 feet or more to be exact…), it is important to stay connected to our friends, family members, and even the campers sharing the campground with you. We know how important these people are to each of our lives, so we should be checking in on them (and hoping that they would return the favor). It is so hard not to go stircrazy at a time like this and feel alone, but you aren’t! There are tons of people out there in the same situation as you, so why shouldn’t we work together and keep each other sane?

At Hickory Hollow Campground, we are working on our activity schedule. I know, sounds crazy right? How can you plan activities that will follow guidelines of social distancing at a campground? Well that’s exactly what we are working on. Finding ways to keep our campers engaged and interacting with each other, while continuing to be safe and healthy! There are a lot of ways to communicate and interact with others, without actually being near them. So whether you’re camping or not, try out some of these ways engage with others. Then tell us what you tried and if it worked for you (or give us ideas of your own!)

  1. Group Chats/Groups (i.e. Facebook, snapchat, messages, etc.)
    Make a group chat with your closest friends or family members and make it a point to at least do a “check-in” with them once a day. It will make you feel better and make others feel cared about. This is important for everyone in order to avoid feeling so isolated at times. Set an alarm and send a little message. It doesn’t even have to be elaborate or super specific, just a “Hey, how’s everyone doing today?” message will be plenty to get the conversation started. Even if someone doesn’t feel like chatting, you still put forth the effort to make them feel important. There are also tons of great apps that have come out to play games with friends from afar like Houseparty or even on snapchat or iphones!

    A camper from Hickory Hollow made a suggestion for us to start a private Facebook group for our campers to post and talk, and I loved the idea! This group is for our campers to talk and share ideas and activities to other campers. I felt like this was such a great idea to get more of our campers talking to one another and show that we are #camperstrong during this time. I am also, personally, a member of a group called Power of Positivity which is used just for people to post positive and inspirational posts to lift each other up. These are both great environments to be engaged in and show that no one is alone right now.
  2. Facetime/Zoom
    I know some of you are craving that face-to-face connection and reading words on a screen just doesn’t do it for you. Trust me I get it! There are ways to get around that too without even leaving your home (or RV)! Anyone who has a smartphone has the capability of using video calls or facetime. There is also this great meeting tool that I’ve used personally (and have seen/heard about lots of others using it too!) that gives you the opportunity to see, chat (written or verbally), and screen share too! There are probably tons of other great uses, but these sold it for me when I used it. If you haven’t used Zoom yet, you’re missing out! (Skype is also a very similar platform.) Sometimes it’s nice to see a smiling familiar face, so I promise you won’t regret doing this with someone you care about and they will appreciate it too. Houseparty works like this as well!
  3. Movie Streaming
    This is something that I am excited to try at the campground. There is this great app called Netflix Party which allows multiple people to watch the same movie together wherever they may be. So talk to a group of your friends, pick a movie, get your favorite quarantine snacks and watch your favorite movie together! It even includes a group chat, so you can talk to your friends while watching the movie. I seriously cannot wait to try this as an activity at the campground since our movie nights were such a hit last year!
  4. Letter Writing
    I know this sounds old-fashioned, but this is such a simple and sentimental way to reach out to others during our social distancing. Find some fancy paper (or really any paper will do), use your neatest handwriting, and write a letter to someone you know! I love this idea for the campground, especially since we are in walking distance of one another (if you aren’t at a campground do this for your neighbors!) People will appreciate the thought and effort you put into a letter and it can be saved as a keepsake – I’m a sucker for memory boxes.

    If you are concerned about spreading germs this way, please be informed that porous materials, such as paper, only holds the contaminates for about 24 hours, so if you are concerned you can leave your mail “quarantined” for that amount of time and you will be good to go!

These are just a few ideas for you to stay connected with others while continuing to social distance! There are so many different activities that people are creating to help everyone during this time, you just have to figure out what you want to do! If you have any other ideas, leave a comment below.

We will be doing videos on our Youtube Channel with different crafts and activities, who knows maybe your thoughts and ideas will end up there too! Make sure you’re subscribed and following our socials for Hickory Hollow Campground (buttons at the top of this page).

Self Care While Social Distancing

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.

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!

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.

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.