Its almost time to pitch a tent.
It's almost time to pitch a tent. Triangle Recreation Camp

If you’re looking to get away from the COVID stress of the city, you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer. With the state still muddling through Phase 2 of re-opening, Washington’s beloved queer campground Triangle Recreation Camp is nearly ready to start welcoming visitors back into the great outdoors — just not quite yet.

“A normal season is pretty crazy,” says Charlie Hill, TRC’s Marketing Manager. Outside of pandemic years, “we’ll have upwards of 150 campers every weekend, on the bigger weekends it’s 300, 400 people.” More than just a collection of campable clearings, TRC offers trails, RV hookups, structures for longer-term visitors, a dance floor, and weekend circuit parties that include a big leather night around July 4th and a famous foam party.

But that went away last summer, with TRC volunteers (there are no paid staff) strictly adhering to the state’s quarantine requirements. That was rough, since the facility’s sole source of income is fees collected from guests and ticket sales for their large parties. But Charlie’s cautiously optimistic that campers might be able to trickle back in this season — and when they do, they’ll likely note some changes.

The campground’s been using quarantimes to bring in a major upgrade: drinkable water. In years past, the campground had running water that could only be used in case of fire. You had you bring your own water to drink, which was a bit of a pain, particularly for larger sites. But soon they plan to have drinkable running water, thanks to a still-in-progress well-digging effort that’ll make it much easier to relax and entertain.

"On a normal year, we set up a party site," Charlie says, sounding wistful.

TRC is planning a soft launch for a limited group of members in early April, but if we’re still stuck in Phase 2, there will be some tricky limits on who can come. Gatherings will be limited to 15 people, and only as many as two households. That means it still won’t be safe to round up your friends from around town for a weekend getaway unless Washington enters Phase 3. And even then, we don’t know exactly what the rules for campgrounds like Triangle will be.

In addition to being a financial burden, the pandemic rules have taken an emotional toll as well. Gatherings of strangers and friends are what make TRC a truly meaningful experience, Charlie says. Normally, “people will wander the trails and wander into sites … stop by somebody’s fire and socialize, have a drink.”

In a normal year, many members are at the campsite every single weekend. The disappearance of that community has been sorely felt, Charlie says, coupled with the disappearance of funds.

“We’re doing our best to stay afloat,” he says. “It’s a tough time right now. Like all the other businesses out there we’re kinda struggling.”