Glamping offers comfort at home and at the campsite

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Dianne Conlon's began refurbishing her 1978 Eldorado camper in 2015. Photo courtesy Dianne Conlon.

A 1978 Eldorado camper is the grown-up version of Dianne Conlon's childhood dream.

"Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to kind of have a playhouse," Conlon said. "One of my nieces had an old camper and (she) kind of redid it, and I thought that would be fun. I had retired from teaching, so I knew I would have time to work on it. I found a pillow with the colors I liked — did my own thing and the rest is history."

Conlon was one of the first in the Jamestown community to spearhead the trend of glamping — a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities generally more upscale than those associated with traditional camping. Conlon found her 'playhouse' on a rummage sale Facebook page. Conlon slapped down $500 dollars in cash and hauled the project back home.

It's been five years and the playhouse has been transformed.


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Conlon encouraged people to "just go for it" if they are considering refurbishing an old camper. Photo courtesy Dianne Conlon

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Conlon spends many evenings in her "happy place." Photo courtesy Dianne Conlon.

"I am not kidding when I say it's like my happy place," Conlon said. "It's like a dream come true. I go across the street, and it's like I am in another world."

Conlon, with the help of friends and family, had a new refrigerator and microwave installed, new flooring put down and the entire camper painted gray. With the addition of decorative accents, the Eldorado was transformed into a getaway that now sits parked across the street from the Conlon's home. Although the family has transported it to the campground a time or two, Conlon said at this time she is happy her "retirement home" is a few steps from her front door.

Conlon's glamper may not be moving, but the inspiration to refurbish and revive old campers is spreading throughout the community.

"I became interested a couple of years ago," said Sara Hegerle, Jamestown resident. "I saw that a friend of mine (Conlon) posted something on Facebook about her (glamper) and I always thought it was cool and admired her for doing it but just never really got around to making the time to do it. So I kind of just admired it from afar. Then this COVID — that took over our country and world —sort of springboarded my interest.

"We were stuck in the house, I kind of needed a project, I needed another place to go. I love my family, I love spending time with them but 24/7 just got to be a little much. I did a search on Facebook for anybody who was looking to get rid of a little old camper that I could sort of make my own."

Hegerle said her inquires on Facebook were met with a slew of responses, and in early April she hauled home a camper. Hegerle has taken out the old appliances and redone the roofing while also installing some new flooring.


"I've got a used TV in there, I've got a used DVD player. I did buy a new fridge, got new flooring from Menards in the clearance section," Hegerle said of her progress on the COVID-19 bonus project.

Hegerle said the "she-shed" project is residing in her backyard. The camper is transportable if desired.

"Camping is a big industry," Hegerle said. "When we moved to Jamestown, I was surprised by all the campers I saw on the side streets because that wasn't really the case in Minnesota (but) I think roughing it is a thing of the past. There are people who do it, but for the most part, people like to be comfortable.

"If we do end up taking it somewhere, I guess we'll know we'll be comfortable. Glamping is sort of for women I suppose — for women to still get out there and rough it a little bit with just a little bit of glamour."

Gerber is a sports writer for the Jamestown Sun.
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