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Cabin at Silver Lake Park Campground in Belmont. Courtesy photo.




Under cover
Cabins offer a more laid-back camping experience

06/29/17
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



 If you’re new to camping or looking for a more relaxed camping experience, cabin camping may be a good option. Some cabins provide only shelter while others provide all the modern comforts of home, so you can choose your preferred level of roughing it. 

For the full camping experience minus the tent, there are rustic cabins, which may include a few essentials or may be nothing more than a roof over your head. Friendly Beaver Campground in New Boston is one local campground that offers rustic cabins; each cabin consists of a single room with a closet, a queen bed and two sets of bunk beds, a small table and chairs, and minimal electricity for lighting and a ceiling fan. A charcoal grill and fire ring are provided outside for cooking, and there’s a public bathroom a short walk away.
“The term is ‘rustic’ because it’s supposed to be very rustic and in nature. It’s not like a hotel,” Friendly Beaver Manager Robert Charest said. “It’s just a different type of shelter for people who don’t like to sleep on the ground, but outside of that, there is no difference [from traditional camping].” 
At Exeter Elms Family Campground in Exeter, campers have a choice between a rustic cabin and a full cabin, which includes beds, a bathroom and a working kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, toaster and coffeemaker. 
“The rustic cabin is just four wooden walls and a roof, so it’s basically like camping in a giant tent, only if it rains, you won’t get soaked,” Exeter Elms office manager Robin Falef said. “The full cabins are for people who don’t want to do regular camping. They want all the bells and whistles and luxuries of home.” 
Some campgrounds have full cabins with even more amenities. The cabins at Silver Lake Park Campground & Cabins in Belmont, for example, include everything the Exeter Elms cabins have, plus a living room area, HDTV, internet access and climate control. 
These kinds of cabins are typically used as a more outdoors-centric alternative to a hotel for people who travel to the area for a particular attraction. (Campers at Exeter Elms often spend their days at Hampton Beach while Silver Lake Park campers are often there to vacation at the lake.) Falef said they are not a good fit for people seeking an intentional and authentic camping experience, and that people should be wary of how the term “camping” is used nowadays. 
“Unfortunately, camping doesn’t mean what it used to,” she said. “Camping [at the full cabins] isn’t really camping. Real camping is about roughing it.” 
Cabin camping can, however, be a good option for first-time campers and people who want to get a taste of the experience before investing the time and money needed for a more bare-bones camping trip. 
“We get all these calls from people who want to try camping but are too nervous because they don’t know how to pitch a tent and do all this camping stuff,” Silver Lake Park campground manager Ashley Jaynes said. “This is a way for them to try camping on their own while still having the luxuries they’re used to.” 
Cabin camping can also be a way for people and families with mixed enthusiasm about the outdoors to experience some of the fun that camping has to offer without being cut off from the outside world. Between lake activities like swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking; hiking the surrounding trails and hanging out around the campfire, Jaynes said, most campers at Silver Lake Park find themselves spending very little time using the television and internet anyway. 
“There may be people who won’t go camping because they don’t want spiders or don’t want to use a public bathroom, or because they have to have their smartphones,” Jaynes said. “I wish they knew that there is a more modern way of camping where they can still check in with their smartphones and post a photo to Facebook and have all these amenities. Then, they might give camping a chance.” 





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