Camping & candy: State park campers welcome kids for trick-or-treating | Sports

Lake Greenwood State Park has three camp hosts who stay at the park for three months. These volunteers clean the restrooms and campsites — and also dish out advice.

Today, they will turn the park into Haunted Shores and welcome hundreds of kids for trick-or-treating from 4 to 8 p.m. The park will be closed to vehicle traffic after 4 p.m. today, and campers will await children who are in search of tasty treats.

It wasn’t always this way. More than a decade ago, Cathy Broome, a camp host, and her husband, Robert, a park ranger, were camping at the park during Halloween. Cathy bought a small bag of Reese’s Cups, thinking kids might visit.

“We thought we’d have one or two kids who were camping,” Cathy said. “We didn’t have anybody. Then, the next year, the campground was probably half full. They would invite their families to come in, and those families would invite others to come. Then it took off from there. It’s a huge thing now.”

Campers go all out in decorating their campsites for Halloween.

“Sometimes you can buy $100 worth of candy, and you are going to give out all the candy,” Broome said.

The three camp hosts have specific duties while they stay at the park. Cathy cleans the women’s restrooms, Pat Fain cleans the men’s restrooms and Judi Duguay cleans the campsites.

Camp hosts are positioned at strategic places throughout the campground, which has 125 campsites. The hosts are at sites 2, 83 and 102.

Cathy has been a camp host for four years. She stays for three months, takes a month break and then returns for three more months. She admits her main reason for being a host is her husband.

“He likes to be here in the campground,” Broome said. “It’s mostly for him.”

She’s prepared for all of the visiting kids.

“You’ve got so many kids coming from four or five different counties,” said Broome, who lives in Joanna. “They know that all the campers are going to trick-or-treat the kids. I have seen kids walking out of here with two bags of candy. I tell everybody about it because it’s safe.”

Some days can be boring as a camp host, Cathy said, unless you have a boat or like fishing.

“But you can always find something to stay busy,” she said. “Sometimes we might go out through the park picking up trash to help the rangers and the maintenance out.”

Fain, who is from Whitmire, is a cousin of Robert.

“We love the outdoors and love camping,” Fain said. “I love meeting a lot of new people.”

Fain said there is a good mix of campers from the area and people from across the country. While camp hosts can stay for up to three months, regular campers are limited to two weeks.

“It’s interesting to talk with other people who are not from here,” Fain said.

Jeff Duguay is a good example of someone who was drawn to Lake Greenwood from thousands of miles away. He and his wife, Judi, who is just settling in as a camp host, are originally from Washington state.

Jeff participated in a cross-country motorcycle trip and stopped in South Carolina to visit family one year. He fell in love with the area.

“I brought my wife to South Carolina, and it was Thanksgiving and the weather was beautiful,” Duguay said.

A few years later, Judi talked Jeff into returning to South Carolina to live. They have been camp hosts at parks across South Carolina and other Southern states.

“You meet so many nice people,” Jeff said. “Everybody is friendly and respectful to each other. That’s what we like about the South.”

He particularly likes Lake Greenwood State Park.

“It’s just a nice park,” he said. “You’ve got this beautiful lake here, and the campsites are accessible and pretty.”

Contact staff writer Greg K. Deal at 864-223-1812 or follow on Twitter @IJDEAL.

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