Sometimes men just need to get away, but, in the time of COVID-19, it can be difficult to find a safe staycation within budget. We’ve found a fun alternative for men of all orientations or preferences looking to drown out the noise and anxiety of the daily grind to bond with nature. Sugar Creek Campground is a private men’s retreat 45 minutes west of Nashville, which features RV hookups, tent sites, bunkhouses and studio rentals alongside Tennessee’s Sugar Creek. While there are other gay themed campgrounds in Tennessee, Sugar Creek is closest to Nashville.
Events Director Al Gregory says the most important thing Sugar Creek offers gay, straight, bi and trans men is a place to exhale. With what COVID-19 has done to our social life and mental health, he says the multiple acres of countryside provides a place to safely stretch out, be yourself, and breathe. Some parts of the campground, like the pool area are clothing optional, so privacy is something Sugar Creek takes seriously for both out and closeted men.
“We have the utmost respect for our member privacy and that’s laid out in our membership agreement,” says Gregory. “We’re very aware of the fact that some of our guests are still on their journey of coming out, and we’re very sensitive to that. Because of that, we have safeguards in place as far as video and pictures in common areas.”
“It’s just absolutely gorgeous during any time of the year,” says Gregory. “You can go swim in the creek. My husband and I love walking down and jumping in the swimming hole on a hot day. It’s clear all the way down. You can jump up to your neck and it’s clear to the bottom!”
At Gregory’s favorite spot, the creek bed, what’s known as the “creek beach” has popped up. It’s an area with lounge chairs and a fire pit near the creek bed where many guests gather safely distanced. It grew from the need to remove chairs from the pool area to maintain social distancing, and placement at the creek bed just made sense.
Some guests also create their own space on the campground to relax. “Some of your serious campers really doll up their tents,” says Gregory. “Multiple tents, multiple porch settings. We have some people who bring their tents, set up, and that’s where they stay. We’ll see them come up to use the restroom, but other than that, they stick to themselves.”
The Campground offers permanent sites (for guests who leave their trailers or RVs there all year long), private studios for rent (with air conditioning, heaters, refrigerators and a nice bed with fresh linens and towels), and they also offer two different types of tent sites. Membership has actually increased one hundred percent this year, so Sugar Creek is thriving.
“We have primitive tent sites for people who want to completely disconnect from electricity, and then we have tent sites for those who want to camp, but also want to have an air conditioner, heat or something they want to plug in,” says Gregory.
They’ve also put several protocols in place to ensure safety. Common areas like the pool have required increased cleaning times and extra hours of labor, but it’s something Gregory says they’re committed to.
“All of our employees are temp checked now when they come into work,” says Gregory. “We’ve also had to make sure that every area is cleaned multiple times a day.” He says they’ve also installed sneeze guards in the cafe area and an employee to check people when they enter.
Sugar Creek is thankful they have been able to maintain and pay all of their staff throughout the crisis, with the new safety measures actually leading to an increase in staffing.
The campground had a tremendous year scheduled for 2020, but everything had to be adjusted and scaled back. Sugar Creek still has some safe events on the books, including a leather night, game watch parties, and a creek party with House DJ Griffin Green, in addition to horseshoe and corn hole games.
“One of the best things we can do Thanksgiving weekend is to give our community a safe place to go and escape,” says Gregory. “We’ll have a party that Saturday night with music and several bonfires going.” Gregory says they also hope to also host some events in December including a New Years’ Eve party, and that he’s thankful for the safe space offered at their all male resort.
“No offense to Bachelorette parties or anything like that, but it’s just not what we do,” says Gregory. “We offer a place where a gay man or someone in FtM transition can come and be ourselves. People are quarantining everywhere in various situations and many don’t have that luxury.”
If you’re looking to support local LGBTQ businesses, but maybe aren’t ready to leave the house just yet, Sugar Creek does have t-shirts, hats and other merchandise on their website. But if you’re unsure, Gregory recommends you come and at least take a tour.
“Come out, see the place,” says Gregory. “There are multiple fire pits, it’s on multiple acres. There are public restrooms and common areas, but they are cleaned multiple times a day. My husband and I are permanents and have a 30 foot trailer out there and it has personally been amazing for both our psyche and our marriage.”
He says the best place to keep up with the most recent, up to date information is through their Facebook page, Instagram page or at sugarcreekcampground.net. Men wishing to book a stay can do so on that website.