Rebecca Miller shows a camp activity bag Friday in the office at Augusta Gardiner KOA campground in Richmond. Miller said that it is one of the changes they’ve had to make because of COVID-19. In previous years they’d have done a craft class for kids but had to switch to the kits to avoid contact and maintain social distancing. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

When word came last week from state officials that campgrounds across Maine could reopen for Maine residents this weekend, Rebecca Miller got to work.

The owner of the Augusta/Gardiner KOA in Richmond has, like many others in the tourism and lodging industries, been waiting to hear what her summer season might look like as Maine starts to lift public health restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

“It changes day to day,” Miller said as she continued readying the campground for its official opening Friday.

The opening of the campground coincides with the opening of Peacock Beach, located about a half-mile away from the KOA campground on U.S. Route 201.

Rebecca Miller and her daughter Sophia Miller pose for a portrait Friday at the Augusta Gardiner KOA Journey campground in Richmond. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The town beach on Pleasant Pond is managed by the town, and town elected officials decided last week to open it this weekend. The beach traditionally opens on Memorial Day weekend.

Nonessential businesses across Maine were closed in March to slow the spread of coronavirus, catching thousands of business owners like Miller off-guard.


Normally, she said the campground takes reservations in April, and it’s generally open for Canadians who are making their way home after spending the winter in Florida.

“This year, we lost all that business,” she said.

While state officials have started lifting restrictions on businesses in the state’s rural counties, the directive for out-of-state residents to quarantine for two weeks after arriving on an honor system in Maine has drawn criticism and concern from the lodging industry.

Now, she’s concentrating on reservations from state residents for June, and she’s trying to put together package deals that will draw people in.

“We’re not fully booked, but I’d rather have a slow roll-in than a massive (one) in case things go haywire,” Miller said. “I’d rather have half of the occupancy level to meet everyone’s needs and my sanity.”

Even as camping is allowed to go forward in Richmond, other summer activities are being put on hold. Town officials have canceled Richmond Days, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last July, and the town’s summer recreation program will not take place.


“We’re hoping we can do something more for our Halloween celebration,” Town Manager Adam Garland said Friday, but there are no plans to reschedule Richmond Days.

A directional sign with distances to internationally named Maine towns is seen Friday at the Augusta Gardiner KOA campground in Richmond. The campground opened for the season this past weekend. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Even though some seasonal activities are being allowed, public health restrictions remain in place limiting the size of public gatherings.

Garland said he hopes members of the public continue to observe those restrictions.

At the KOA campground, Miller is also tracking the status of the public health guidelines and restrictions and how they will affect her family’s business.

“We’re hoping we can get out-of-staters up, even if they have to some kind of quarantine,” she said.

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