Thinking about taking a camping trip in Virginia? Camp Virginia recently spoke with the owner of Karma Campground. He shared with us how he started camping, the best campsite on the grounds, and how you should spend your time (hint: it includes a beer and relaxing). Listen to our full interview here:
Camp Karma Campground Virginia
Camp Virginia: I’m talking with Eric today from Karma Campground in Virginia. Eric, why don’t you start by telling us what types of camping you guys offer there?
Eric: We’ve got 36 sites total. And so, the upper half is dedicated to kind of upscale primitive camping, I would call it, because you can bring in your small camper or your pop-up, or whatever, and park it in there and there’s a few that are 20amp and 30amp. Most are 20amp. And you know, kind of take it from there. So, there’s something for everyone.
CV: Okay. And how many sites do you guys have?
CV: 36 sites, okay. And what’s the most popular way people like to spend their time there at the campground?
Eric: They sit in their site and they just hang out, and they cook food. They go down to Goose Creek, which we border. It’s almost like a river rather than a creek. It’s huge. And some part of the creek, it’s really rocky, so you can’t really like do any kayaking or anything down there, but some parts go up to your ankle and some of the parts go up to your waste. All right, so you get a little smallmouth bass and catfish out of there.
Eric: So it’s great for fishing, great for waiting, great for swimming. It’s a huge attraction. We also have a pond, which is a catch and release pond. We stock it every year, and it’s great for the kids. So, we’re a really like family-oriented type of environment.
CV: Okay. And if I was going to be staying there for the weekend or three or four days, or whatever it is, and I wanted to maybe head out for an afternoon, what are some of your favorite attraction in the area?
Eric: Well, that’s the cool thing, because we’re right down the street from Downtown Bonita, which is only four miles down the street. So, it’s not really an attraction, but there’s little shops. Antique shops. There’s a bunch of restaurants. That only occurred like five years ago. And then, if you go one way on 122, it’s Downtown Bedford, which has a whole bunch of stuff, and then the other way there’s West Lake. And they just opened up a brewery. They’ve got a bunch of restaurants in that are. I mean we’re only two miles off 122, which is like the main thoroughfare between Lynchburg and Roanoke. So, it’s a perfect location actually. So, what we mostly get are city people from Richmond, D.C., Charlottesville, Carolinas, Tennessee, Ohio, and they just want to get out of the city and get back to nature.
Eric: But they can do that in like a really nice fashion, because once you get on our property, you get it. You understand. Like: “Oh, okay,” but you’re not that far away from like civilization. So, our marketing scheme is like get back to nature. You know, that’s the whole key. And it’s quiet. There’s no lights at night. You can see the stars. You can see the moon. It’s peaceful. There’s deer. There’s rabbits. There is turkeys. You know, it’s a really – I mean what we’re selling is an experience. You know, it’s a weird kind of product, so yeah.
CV: Now, as you know, glamping has been getting a lot of attention, and this is for the folks who want to get out of the city and they don’t necessarily want to spend all the time setting the tent up and rolling around on the ground, potentially, with rocks and all those things. They want things to be a little simpler, so it’s kind of fun to go to our site and see that you guys are jumping onboard with that to some degree. Tell me a little bit about that.
Eric: Oh, that was hilarious. I don’t know how we got into it. Somebody brought that glamping thing up like two years ago, and so I just Googled it and it is huge.
CV: It is.
Eric: I mean it’s not so much huge here, in the United States, but in Europe and other parts of the country, it’s ridiculous. And so, we call it primitive glamping just to differentiate ourselves, because these glamping places – they’re on like, you know, these big places right on the water, and you know, it’s like a five-star hotel overlooking San Francisco bridge. I mean it’s ridiculous. It really is.
Eric: I mean we cannot compare ourselves to that, but what we offer is it’s a tent. A six-person tent divided in two. So, we limit it to two adults and two – well, four people, I should say.
Eric: But most of the people that we get are mom, dad, and two kids. All right. And it’s perfect for like dad who really wants to go camping and wants to convince mom that, you know, she would really like it. And the kids don’t care. They just want to go somewhere.
CV: Right. Right.
Eric: So, the selling point is it’s all setup and you get there. It’s done. The tent is there. You get a bucket of wood. You get a thing of ice. You know, there’s a picnic table, a fire ring, and a place to hang your lantern. Whatever. So, I mean, literally, in five minutes after you get there, you get a fire going, you’re cooking your dinner, and you’re camping immediately. There’s no setup. There’s nothing. You don’t have to worry about cleanup. We take care of all of that. I mean it’s done, because, primarily, you know, a lot of people are getting off work in Richmond, which is like – what – two hours a way or something like that from us. And so, they’ve got to get here. They get here at like six or seven on Friday night. They’ve got to setup a tent, which takes two hours. They’ve got to find firewood. We can sell it to you if you want.
You’ve got to get that going. You’ve got to control the kids. I mean it’s like a whole hassle for a lot of people. And there’s a lot of people that we’ve found that just kind of on the border, and they’re like: “Well, maybe we’ll like camping; maybe we won’t, but we don’t want to spend five hundred dollars at Wal-Mart to find out that we really don’t like it.” So, all right, I know it’s kind of on the high-end of primitive camping at 75 bucks a night, but there’s nothing to worry about. I mean you just show up. That’s all you do.
CV: Yeah. And I think that price is worth that to a lot of people. One of the biggest ones in the States that I came across was a place called Wanderlust Camps, and they somehow – I’d love to know the backstory on it – finagled a deal with the Washington State Parks, and they have these gorgeous canvas tents with queen-sized beds with gorgeous bedding. And they’re all over in State Parks, and this summer, they were sold out. They were booked the entire summer. It was pretty much impossible to get a spot, and that was 160 bucks a night.
Eric: Are you serious?
Eric: Wow, that’s great to know.
Eric: That’s like great marketing information for me.
CV: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think when we get off the phone here, I’ll shoot you a link and a couple other sites that are interesting. And any way to pull some people in there to kind of get them experiencing the outdoors at Karma Campground there I think is to your benefit, you know?
CV: Two more questions for you. If you were going to spend just one hour at Karma Campground, how do you like to spend your time there, Eric?
Eric: Sitting on the ground, drinking a beer.
CV: I’m right with you.
Eric: Quiet honestly, when I go camping, my dad and I camped our entire lives together for 20-something years. We used to go to Music Fest. He’s a singer/songwriter, so we would just go to all these song fests together. And that was like the first thing, you know. We’d just like setup camp, sit down, drink a beer, and then he’d start playing songs. And those were the most memorable times of my life. I mean they were like things that you can’t erase. It’s just burned in your brain.
Eric: And it’s just the time with your family, I think, is so important. And you know, that’s kind of what my focus is with this campground; is bringing people back to nature. And you know, the biggest thing that I hear over and over and over again with these I would say are the parents, in general, are mid-30s, early-40s. Okay, those are the tent campers, and they’ve got kids five to fifteen years old. Okay, that’s just a broad, general description, but it’s pretty specific. And they cannot stand these iPods and these iPhones, and these tablets. And the parents call me on the phone, like: “Do you have WiFi? Can you get Internet connection down there?” And they don’t want it. I’m like: “Okay, we’ve got WiFi at the store, because of kids like yours, and no, you really can’t get Internet connection down in the campground,” and they love that.
Eric: They’re like: “You know, all my kid does is sit on this tablet or on the computer, or whatever, all day. I can’t get them outdoors, so we’re going to book three days outdoors, in the wilderness.” And you know, they have the option of getting hi-tech here, but we don’t promote it. We’re like: “All right, let’s separate.” And when I started going with my dad, I had a job that was highly stressful. I was in my mid-twenties, and I had a cellphone. I had a pager. I had email. I had all this stuff. I left it all at home. And for like three or four days, that was it, and it recharged my batteries. I was so happy. You know, I connected with my dad and friends. So, that’s really like my focus on this end of the business.
CV: Yeah, it’s therapy, you know?
Eric: It is, yeah.
CV: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more. Nothing takes the place of just coming there, jumping in the creek, sitting around a campfire, crack a beer, and make a hotdog. You know, you just can’t get that experience in any other way and you can’t get that sort of camaraderie and those memories any other way when you’re from the cities. So, yeah, it makes me happy that you get it out there, you know?
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
CV: One last question for you. If you, yourself, were going to spend just one night at Karma Campground, which specific site do you like the most, Eric?
CV: Tell me why.
Eric: Because it’s right near the creek. It’s the most popular site. It’s either B23 or Orange4. And the reasons are that it’s the closest location to the creek. So, when you wake up in the morning, you’re going to hear the turkeys gobbling and you’re going to hear the creek, and it’s just beautiful.
Eric: So, yeah, you can find everything on our website, but yeah, I mean I’ve been doing this for like four years now, so I know what people like and now what they don’t like, but you know, preferred spaces basically.
CV: Absolutely. Awesome. Well, hey, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day, Eric, to chat with us about Karma Campground in Virginia.
Eric: Thank you.
CV: All right, take care.
Eric: Okay, you too. All right, bye-bye.