Trail News

Camp Cardinal Offers an Escape Close to Home that’s Really a World Away

March 13, 2023

Here is what’s fun at Camp Cardinal.

Water sports, kids crafts, fishing, movie nights, swimming, inflatables, water slides, an Arcade Alley, cornhole, wagon rides, scavenger hunts — that’s a start.

Here’s what convenient about Camp Cardinal.

It’s just a few minutes off Route 17 in Gloucester Point yet a world away from strip malls and traffic noise. The sprawling 38-acre campground at 3149 Campground Road in Hayes offers plenty of options for travelers. Rent a cabin or cottage. Cabins sleep four and have heat and AC; cottages sleep six, and the ones that face the Severn River include a wraparound porch to enjoy the view. Bringing the dog? Four cabins offer fenced-in space so you can leave your door open and be stress-free about your pup wandering off. Park your RV or trailer on the campground or pitch your own tent. If you’re coming with friends or another family, Buddy Sites face each other and are booked as one site or if your group is even larger, check out the Quad Site that surrounds a communal fire pit.

Here’s what you probably didn’t know about Camp Cardinal.

There’s more to do — or not — to fill an entire week.

Camp Cardinal owner Ryan Cox was drawn to the beauty of the property — tall trees surround the Severn River.  He describes it as “somebody’s river house.”

With so many amenities onsite, you can go car-free for your stay, though shopping and restaurants are so close that you can stray if you choose.

As close as Camp Cardinal is to the counties and towns on the Middle Peninsula, it’s also within easy driving distance of the cities of Virginia Beach, Richmond and in Northern Virginia. “Arrive on a Friday afternoon, set up shop before the sun goes down and have a nice long weekend in nature,” Cox suggests. “It’s a really safe and close knit community where kids are free to be kids, riding bikes and making macaroni necklaces.”

Sterling Rowe, the new manager of Camp Cardinal, is full of ideas to kick off another season. While folks enjoy Camp Cardinal year-round, from Easter through Labor Day is considered “in season,” while the Pool and Splash Park open on Memorial Day weekend.

As a cornhole buff, Rowe plans to schedule tournaments every weekend; movie nights on Friday and Saturday will include popcorn and snow cones for $1.

The Activity Center is a hub that keeps kids busy making ceramics, tie-dye shirts, mining for gems and more. There’s BINGO for all ages – Beer Bingo for adults asks you to bring a beer with the winner receiving a collection of different brews.

Fishing piers are licensed so anglers do not need their own saltwater license. A handy rinse and cleaning station allows you to prep your fish for grilling later. While there is no prepared food onsite, a general store open daily April through October carries all the essentials — firewood and ice, rock candy and Dippin’ Dots, hot chocolate bombs and souvenirs. Rowe is expanding the merchandise to include more locally produced goods.

He’s got plans for regular super soaker shootouts, too, arming families with artillery for a kids vs. adults competition. A playground, basketball courts and sand volleyball court are all onsite. Renting a golf cart is an option if you want to tool around quickly. Bikes, kayaks, paddleboards and paddleboats, all free with your stay, can be checked out at the general store.

While there’s plenty to keep water lovers busy at Camp Cardinal, nearby waterways on the Middle Peninsula are filled with picturesque nooks to explore. You don’t even have to leave Hayes to visit a state park! Machicomoco State Park along the York River is just 6 miles away and includes a car-top boat launch pier. Beaverdam Park, also in Gloucester, sits on a gorgeous 635-acre freshwater lake, offers 9 miles of trails and a fishing pier and is a 20-minute drive.

Charming Gloucester Main Street is also nearby, walkable and full of unique shops and fun dining spots. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs is a local treasure with an international reputation with events scheduled during the warmer months. On your way back, pick up  Scoot’s award-winning BBQ, a mere 3.8-mile drive from Camp Cardinal and listed among the favorites on the comprehensive Camp Cardinal app.

Cabins and cottages all include cable TV with an assortment of 82 stations from Disney HD to Golf HD to ESPN2 to Hallmark HD. Unwind to your favorite program, around the fire pit or with a board game. With all there is to do coupled with the quiet of the outdoors, promise you’ll sleep well at Camp Cardinal.

You’ll be supercharged for the next morning to do all the things or none of them. Sink into a chair or hammock and delight in a world away from the grind.

For information, call Camp Cardinal at 804-642-4316, download the app or visit the website.