Diamond Lake Resort co-owner Janice Smith is calling Friday similar to “Black Friday at Wal-Mart.”
Smith said people began showing up to put their names on the waiting list for camper sites for the 2020 camping season on Christmas Day, which is the earliest she has ever had someone wait in advance.
“More will show up in the middle of the night and sleep in their cars,” Smith said. “It’s kind of evolved because we used to do it in the morning. I just couldn’t bear the idea of a person sitting outside with a propane heater in January, so we moved it to 6 p.m. But it doesn’t keep people from waiting.”
Those campers wanting to stay for the summer or reserve a particular site, must show up at the resort office at 8 a.m. Friday morning and ensure an immediate family member is present all day in order to receive a numbered ticket at 6 p.m. That number then determines the order the camper can come back in on Saturday to make their summer reservation. Smith estimates they will hand out approximately 120 numbers for the resort’s 270 sites.
“It turns into a reunion,” Smith said. “We play cards and Minute to Win It and have free coffee and free soft drinks. Even people that don’t have to stand in line come in just to say hi to those that are waiting.”
Smith added that those who have camped for the entire season, April 1 through Nov. 1, for three consecutive years are not required to stand in line and may automatically renew their reservation.
“Not everybody that’s there is going to book every weekend,” Smith said. “When we are done servicing the people present (usually around 3 p.m.), we will start calling people that couldn’t get on the list. Last year we called 85 people. Then we take reservations every day after that.”
Smith said each year the number of people waiting and the days in advance they arrive continue to increase. As of 5 p.m. Thursday evening, there were 29 people waiting at the resort.
“I keep telling myself it’s a blessing that they all want to camp here so bad that they are willing to wait,” Smith said. “I totally stress about this week because I want people to get want they want — I want people to be happy.”