Throughout much of 2020, many Americans and others throughout the world kept themselves at home, reducing their interactions with others while doing so. Meanwhile, some decided that this was a great time to embrace the outdoors and engage in social distancing in natural settings.
The latter was clearly the case for many Tennesseans as camping records were set in Tennessee’s state parks throughout the year.
Specifically, the three busiest months that Tennessee’s state parks have ever experienced as it relates to camping occurred in 2020: June, July and October.
Taking the top spot was October; 62,124 camping nights occurred then, according to a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation press release. That broke the record of 57,472, which had been set four months earlier.
That figure dipped to around 36,000 in November, understandable with cooler weather descending upon the Volunteer State then, but that number also set an all-time record for that month and was the 32nd-busiest month overall. In comparison, the corresponding figure for November 2019 was 21,000.
Jim Bryson, the organization’s deputy commissioner, said that his fellow Tennesseans and others who had entered his state for this purpose had valued the “space, freedom and connection the outdoors bring.” He added that the outdoors has provided a “sanctuary for mental and physical health,” essential given the impact that isolating due to COVID-19 has had on many.
Some campers have even been homeschooling children and working remotely.
Camping has been endorsed as a low-risk activity as it relates to COVID-19. Arguably, the best thing that people can do to limit their virus-related risks is engage in social distancing.
Camping provides a great opportunity to do this, particularly if those sharing space at one of the 3,000 campsites at Tennessee’s state parks live together or are otherwise already in close contact on a regular basis.
Also, in the summer of 2020, four health experts were asked to assess COVID-19-related risks of activities, and camping was rated as a “3” on a 1-10 scale.
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