Cama Beach State Park’s Reservation System goes Online after 11 years
For 11 long years, the process of reserving a cabin of the 33 cabins at the Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island has been quite a task.
The numbers available were of the park itself, and Deb Bell who’s worked at Cama Beach since before the park opened would answer every call herself and let the callers know about the reservation status.
There no iota of doubt that the Cama Beach is a busy park. The peak time is, of course, the summers. She advised if anyone wants a date in the summers, to leave a message just at midnight nine months before arrival.
She says, “I use humor when I can to defuse the frustration.”
But, now the woes of the travelers have gone. The Cama beach has entered into digital age on January 16 as a part of a substantial upgrade to the Washington State Parks central reservation system. Cama Beach along with Camano Island State Park became the last two state parks with cabins available online.
Vacationers now have the option to log on to the system nine months before their arrival and see the vacancy. They can book the cabin by providing their credit card number. There is also an option of last time cancellations. And to the relief of everyone, there is no need for any midnight call.
But not everything is going online at Cama Beach. The large groups and weddings to book seven or more cabins will have to talk directly to the Cama Beach staff.
“As a resort, we’re most closely allied with Fort Worden [a state park in Port Townsend where former officers’ quarters rent as vacation homes],” says Bell. “But the call from the public to have online access was huge.”
The park has never been the best-kept secret. With a rich history — it once served as a summer encampment for Native Americans — the 486-acre property was developed in the 1930s as a Depression-era “auto court,” an affordable vacation spot for families. In the 1990s, the family that had owned the resort since 1934 sold it at a discount to Washington State Parks.
There was no change in the original cedar cabins just steps away from a stunning stretch of Puget Sound. “The commitment to the park was to keep it in the flavor of its former self, ” says Meryl Lipman, a communications consultant with Washington State Parks.
The small cabins have just the right amenities for camping like beds, heaters, microwave and full-size refrigerator, picnic table outside. The Center for Wooden Boats has set up a satellite office with boats, crab pots and fishing poles available for rent, as well as educational programs. A beachside general store was reopened recently.
The reservation system of the Cama Beach has never been without controversies. Often people complain of the long waiting days for booking into the park. But, the new system will be fair to everyone. Anyone can check the vacancy status online and book cabins as per their comfort.
The specialty of the Beach Park is it operates without any cars near the cabins. Visitors park in an upper lot and then take a shuttle down to the cabins so that kids can run around freely without any fear of vehicles.
“I get emotional just talking about it,” says Kelly Delahunty, a mom of three girls and Seattle registered nurse who has been traveling to Cama Beach with groups of family and friends for seven years. “It’s like complete freedom for them while we’re [at Cama Beach]. They get on their little bikes and go from morning until night.”
However, the Cama beach is anticipating more changes in the recent future. It will focus on event programming. It also aims to hire professional customer-service specialists.