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By Mike Gast
Pat Kosalka doesn’t see herself as a crusader for COVID-19 vaccines. The 74-year-old owner of the Sagadahoc Bay Campground near Georgetown, Maine, just wants herself and husband, Eric, 75, as well as their campers to stay safe.
Kosalka is among the very first campground owners in the United States to put the “not welcome” sign out for unvaccinated campers.
All campers must be vaccinated at this Maine campground!
All campers at the popular Southern Maine campground 46 miles northeast of Portland will now need to be fully vaccinated – and be able to prove it – when they arrive to set up their site.
“I’m 74 years old now, and I’ve never in my life heard the kind of language and nastiness I’ve received online and over the phone since we announced the vaccination requirement,” Kosalka said. “But somebody needs to stand up for those of us who want to be vaccinated and safe.”
Along with the strongly worded messages received from “anti-vaxxers,” Kosalka said she’s received heartwarming support from those who welcomed the chance to camp in a fully vaccinated environment.
“We are both fully vaccinated, and so is everyone who works here,” she said. “We work hard, and I don’t want to get sick.”
Call for a refund
Kosalka expected she’d cause a bit of a stir when she posted “If you selfishly refuse to get a vaccine, you can call for a refund,” on the campground website (sagbaycamping.com).
“I guess if your feelings get hurt, so be it,” she said. Any campers showing up without a proper vaccination card won’t be allowed to camp.
“I really did get a lot of positive feedback, too,” she said. “One woman with a reservation called me to say that she had been vaccinated, but her husband hadn’t been. When she told him she was going camping without him, he went and got his shot,” she laughed. “If I can influence just one person to do the right thing, it’s worth it.”
Kosalka said she’s had to deal with “a lot” of cancellations from those unwilling to vaccinate, but her business hasn’t been negatively affected.
No lost business here!
“As soon as we post that we have a site available, someone who is vaccinated picks it right up,” she said. “I have not lost a bit of business and don’t really expect to.” The campground is already taking bookings for 2023.
Although she’s received camper input – both pro and con – from as far away as California, she doesn’t see herself as a vaccine crusader.
“I’d like to see other campground owners do the same thing,” she said. “The motivation to take a stand like this shouldn’t be whether or not you will lose or make money. The motivator should just be doing the right thing.”
The land has been in Eric Kosalka’s family since the late 1700s.