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North Hills Monthly

Convenience, Comfort Hallmark of RV Camping

Feb 28, 2019 05:15PM ● By Kathleen Ganster

The Panormios family at an RV campground.

Louis Heinle had always tent-camped while growing up and loved it. But when he met Sheila Bernardini, she wasn’t so interested. 

“I’m not that big on sleeping on the ground,” she said. That’s one reason why Heinle purchased a used motorhome that he discovered 12 years ago while driving to a job site. The couple immediately fell in love with RV camping.

“We bought it on a Monday and left for the Poconos on Friday,” Heinle said of the 1986 used Coachman vehicle. In fact, he couldn’t believe the difference between staying in a tent and an RV.

“I took a nice, hot shower in it, then grabbed ice cubes from the freezer for my drink. I had to call my brother and tell him that I was camping and had ice cubes in my drink while I sat by the campfire,” Heinle laughed.

Bernardini agreed. “We can be in the outdoors, which we love, but we have all the comforts of home that we can take wherever we want to go,” she said. 

According to Go RVing, an informational website with facts about RV history, types of vehicles, campgrounds and other information, recreational camping—commonly known as RV camping—can be a pop-up tent camper or trailer that you pull behind a vehicle, a motorhome like Heinle and Bernardini have, or a truck camper. 

Traveling to different locations is a big plus of RV camping for the Harrison Township couple. “I used to have a camp, but you always have to go to the same place. We like going to new places,” Bernardini said. 

The couple is now on their second motorhome. 

“We named our first one Emily since that was the name of the woman we bought it from, and we call our second one Finny because it is a National Dolphin (brand) motorhome,” Heinle said. 

Heinle and Bernardini enjoy camping at many Pennsylvania state park campsites. “Since we both work full-time, we tend to stay within a two-hour radius,” Heinle said. 

While Heinle said they usually go four to six times a year, last year they set a record year with 12 camping jaunts. Favorite state parks of theirs include Racoon Creek and Ohiopyle. The couple also enjoys The Flying Ranch, a 600-acre ranch located in the Allegheny Mountains near Allegheny National Forest. 

“It’s so beautiful there and I like horseback riding,” Bernardini said. 

The couple enjoys fishing, kayaking, and hiking, all activities that lend themselves to camping. 

“You can’t find any better people than campers and outdoor people. Everyone is so nice and always willing to help you out. The first time we went camping, I had no idea how to hook everything up and the guy next door came right over and helped me without hesitation,” Heinle said. 

Like Heinle, Kimberly Panormios grew up camping, but her family preferred a pop-up camper. In fact, when Panormios and her husband, Stephen, started camping about 10 years ago, they used a hand-me-down.

“We had a 21-foot Coleman pop-up camper that was given to us by Kim's parents,” Stephen said. The Franklin Park couple now has a Coachmen 24’ travel trailer that they use when they camp with daughters, Emily, 7, and twins Laura and Sarah, 5.

“We took a break after the girls were born, but we started again two years ago; Emily was 5 and the twins were 3,” Kimberly said.

RV camping is ideal for the young family, because it gives them a chance to unwind and to spend time with the girls.

“We go camping to get away from all of the daily stress and worries,” said Stephen. “We love to get back to the basics. We love going for walks, fishing, having nightly camp fires and enjoying each campground’s attractions.”

Like Heinle and Bernardini, the Panormios family enjoys their home state.

“We like to travel to all kinds of places, but usually stay within Pennsylvania. Every time somebody mentions a campground to us, we write it down and try to follow through with going there,” Stephen said.

And like Bernardini, they like the versatility of traveling and seeing new sites. “Although you can get a camp site for a season and park the camper there, we prefer to pull it and see the different places,” Stephen said.

According to Kim, the kids’ favorite place is Yogi Bear Campground. “We haven’t been to many campgrounds that we really didn’t like, but McKean KOA in Erie might be Steve’s and my favorite,” she said.