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POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Wekiwa Springs State Park to upgrade campsites

Jim Abbott on Travel

Postcards from Florida

June 20, 2010

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A buddy of mine went camping with his son this past weekend at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County and was unsuccessful in persuading me to go along — it's just too ridiculously hot for that type of thing right now.

He went on for a while about the cooling gulf breezes, but I wasn't buying it.

Since he's more of an outdoorsman than I am, I didn't push the issue. This week, however, I received validation of my theory that the audience for summertime camping in Florida is more of a niche market.

"It's not the greatest time in the world to want to camp," conceded Warren Poplin, park manager of Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka. "It's just too hot."

That's the reason the park has picked the sweltering summer months to start an improvement project that will limit access to its campgrounds for at least five months. During that time, workers will install a sewage system that will make future camping more, uh, civilized.

When it's finished, the renovation will provide sewer connections at each of the park's 60 campsites. Now, visitors must use the park's centralized facilities or dispose of waste at a dump station on the way out.

To do the work, the park will have only 30 of its 60 campsites available at least through the end of November and will not be accepting camping reservations through year's end. Camping space will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Even so, it shouldn't be a problem finding a spot because — as almost everyone knows — summer isn't the hot time for camping, so to speak.

"The likelihood of being able to make it in will be great," Poplin says. "It's not our peak time of the year for camping."

Nor will the work interfere with the Wekiwa's annual Fall Fest on Oct 16, an event that attracts more day guests than campers.

And the addition of sewage connections will be worth the imposition, Poplin says.

"It will be a huge improvement," he says. "People don't camp so much in tents anymore."

Apparently, the new idea of roughing it often involves the amenities of a 35-foot RV.