CHATHAM, Ill. (WAND) – The unofficial start of summer kicked off this Memorial Day weekend and for the camping industry it could not come soon enough. After a sluggish 2020 because of the COVID pandemic there is a glimmer of hope.

"It was a very good weekend,” Larry Fons, the owner of Chatham’s Double J Campground said. "The campground was full all three nights. That is actually the first time since Labor Day 2019 that the campground was full."

During the year of the pandemic, Fons estimates business was half of what it was in 2019. The 2021 holiday weekend changes that. The three-day weekend revenue us already 15% higher than before the pandemic hit. Several the campers are first timers.

“I mean a lot of new campers that take a lot of hand holding and helping to get setup and get organized in their RV's."

As the weekend ends, Fons says he sees light at the end of the tunnel and hopes things are turning around for the camping industry.

"We're selling a lot of firewood,” he said. “There are a lot of campers, a lot of families sitting around the fire, making s’mores and relaxing and having a good time."

Double J Campground is back to operating at full capacity, but masks are still required in the store. Staff are also doing extra cleaning of the facility.

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