How to Open a Homestead Campground

Opening a homestead campground is one option for earning income if you own a little land in the country and are willing to put in some work. Here is the story of how Joe and Amy Taylor established theirs in 1954.

| March/April 1980

  • 062 campground - jumping off the pier
    A diving platform proved safer than the diving boards at the swimming hole.
    ALDEN STAHR
  • 062 campground - lake view3
    A view towards the shore of the two acre swimming hole Joe Taylor made on his homestead campground.
    PHOTO: ALDEN STAHR
  • 062 campground - five panels
    TOP LEFT: The camp ""zoo"" is an added attraction. CENTER LEFT: This small cottage and all of the campground's other buildings were constructed by the Taylor family. BOTTOM LEFT: The "Big Cabin," which the Taylors rented out to guests by the week. TOP RIGHT: Photographers who are interested in wildlife find plenty of subject matter. CENTER RIGHT: The Taylors sold firewood for extra income.
    ALDEN STAHR
  • 062 campground - hunters
    Hunters rent out the property twice each year.
    ALDEN STAHR

  • 062 campground - jumping off the pier
  • 062 campground - lake view3
  • 062 campground - five panels
  • 062 campground - hunters

Sixteen years ago, Joe Taylor, his wife Amy, and their four sons opened up their land to a few campers. Today, Camp Taylor has 84 campsites . . . and the family has a thriving home business!

Since I've lived on his "homestead campground" for the last eight years, I've had plenty of chances to talk with Mr. Taylor about the ins and outs of opening a campground. And Joe tells me that you can start as small as you wish (as he did for instance with just a few picnic tables, garbage pails, and an outhouse) and then let your campground grow until it's as big as you can manage.

How It Happened

In 1953 when Joe bought his 137 acres of northwestern New Jersey woods he had no intention of starting a campground. He just wanted some recreational acreage for his family and friends. But as taxes (inevitably) increased, the new landowner had to make his property pay ... or lose it.

At first, the Taylors leased their land during hunting season, and took in about $400, but that wasn't nearly enough. So, Joe's next thought was to build a bungalow colony, but he ran into trouble with local building codes (which required a minimum of 1,250 square feet for any dwelling) and decided that such a project wouldn't pay off.



It was at that point that the landowner chopped down enough trees to make space for a few campsites, built several picnic tables, provided garbage cans, constructed a two-holer outhouse . . . and opened his campground.

In order to make the place more attractive to his guests, Joe Taylor's next move was to create a lake. Although he had a full-time job and was moonlighting at another besides, this determined man cleared all the trees for the two-acre lake site with an axe!



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