First things first: I don’t do staycations. However, I’ve made exceptions for quirky experiences, like camping in Brooklyn’s Marine Park and checking in to Boatel, an abandoned-boats-turned-hotel/art project in Far Rockaway, Queens.
So I’m intrigued by a new potential project, also out by the beach in Queens: Camp Rockaway. The idea? A handful of safari-style tents with comfy beds, outdoor showers, private fire pits, and hot tubs overlooking Jamaica Bay.
It’s the vision of NYC-based designer Kent Johnson, who brought one of his tents (pictured) to the Hester Street Fair this past weekend, where I had the chance to meet him and check out the digs. The idea he said, came from him “dorking out on history,” after he read about the Rockaways tent colonies of the 1900s, which offered an affordable way for vacationers to hit the beach.
But his inspiration also comes from the effects of a more modern event: Hurricane Sandy. As a designer focused on sustainability, Johnson sees Camp Rockaway as an opportunity to restore and protect a landscape ravaged by the storm.
And he’s drumming up support and funds for Camp Rockaway in a modern way as well: through Kickstarter.
The tent itself—at least, the prototype version—is nothing like you’ll find at, say, the Four Seasons Tented Camp in northern Thailand, but there’s a bed, a little furniture, and some room left to breathe.
I’m always game for new experiences, and a tent in Queens is not your average New York City hotel room. So hey, if Camp Rockaway comes to fruition, I may even do another staycation.
Rich Beattie is executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.