Calvert Cliffs Trip Report

Campground Overview

Calvert Cliffs State Park is located along the West side of the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, MD.  The park contains five primitive camp sites that may only be reserved by registered youth group pass holders.  The campground is physically separate from the day use park area and features a private gated access and a private beach.

Parking:  Each campsite has room for parking one vehicle or a trailer.  All additional cars are required to park along the fence line across from site 5.

Facilities:  Pit toilets (no running water) are available next to sites 2, 5, and 6 and are shared by all campers.  Running water spigot is available adjacent to site 5.

Sites:  Our group was the only unit on site during our visit.  We reserved sites 2 and 5 as both are equipped with a pavilion shelter.  Even though sites 2 and 5 appear to be next to each other on the map, they are separated by a small ravine.  The park ranger notified us that we were the only group on site for the weekend so we also set up some tents on site 3, which is directly across from site 5.  Site 3 does not have any shelter but is the only site on the Western side of the road and has the largest open area for tents.

  • Main Park Address:  1880 Park Drive, Drumore, PA 17518
  • Campground Address:  See map insert below for directions
  • Park Website:  Link Here
  • Campground Reservation:  Link Here
Calvert Cliffs Campground Map
Gated Access
Site 1
Site 3
Site 6
Site 2
Site 5
Amphitheater
Gated Access

Program Overview

The agenda from our trip is located within the info sheet linked above.

Fossil Hunting:  One of the primary reasons people visit Calvert Cliffs is to search for prehistoric fossils along the beach.  Campers at the youth group site have access to a private strip of beach that is similar in size to the public beach available at the main park area.  Over 600 species of  fossils can be found along the beach at Calvert Cliffs including shark teeth and ray plates.

Slack Lining:  The numerous trees available within site 3 provided the perfect conditions to setup a slack line to keep the scouts occupied while we were not at the beach.  This was our first time using a slack line at a scout event and it was a big hit.

Individual Cooking:  This trip was our first camping event during the COVID-19 pandemic so we were especially cautious about minimizing potential exposure during our meal times.  We leveraged several different recipes that allowed scouts and families to prepare their own food using group led, individual cooking methods such as foil pouches, bacon and eggs in a brown bag, omelets in a bag, and pre-packaged grab-and-go foods.  The younger scouts that would not typically participate in group cooking enjoyed the opportunity to help prepare their own food.

Start

  • Great space for large group games
  • Should have brought a hose
  • Need better bug spray
  • Bring extra shark teeth

Stop

  • Biting flies were horrible

Continue

  • Scouts enjoyed playing on slack line
  • Lots of shells to offset the infrequent teeth
  • Individual meal prep fun for small group
  • Check for vibrio concentration before visit

Cubmaster Notes

This camping trip to Calvert Cliffs was the first time the Pack had camped as a group since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of our scouts and leaders were anxious for an opportunity to conduct a scout outing as most of our activities since the beginning of the pandemic were virtual.  This location was ideally suited for our trip because the private campground area and private beach enabled us to easily social distance from other people.  We reserved two campsites to allow our group to spread out a little more than normal and but ended up having the entire camp to ourselves for the weekend.

One of the other main reasons why we selected this park was the prospect of finding shark teeth and other fossils.  Unfortunately, that aspect of the trip did not live up to my expectations.  I anticipated that it would be much easier than it was to find shark teeth along the beach.  In total, our group probably only found about 10 teeth total during a few hours of searching.  Additionally, the weather during our stay was a perfect storm to encourage heavy biting fly activity on the beach.  We had heavy rain on Friday night and some cloud cover during the day Saturday and the fly’s seemed to love the hot, humid, and cloudy combination.  The fly activity was nearly as bad as we experienced when visiting Assateague Island State Park last summer and several scouts and adults were bit hard enough to bleed.  If the flies were not as bad, we probably would have enjoyed our time at the beach more than we did.  Despite the flies and lack of fossils, most of my scouts seemed pleased with the experience and brought home containers full of interesting shells and interesting stones they found along the beach.  If I were to do this again, I would probably buy a bag of shark teeth on the internet before the trip so I could make sure that every scout goes home with at least one.

The other factor that slightly diminished our beach trip was the high presence of vibrio bacteria in the waters of the Chesapeake bay.  From my research, it seems that this is typical in this region in the summer months because of all of the runoff that flows into the bay North of the area.  Because of the high bacteria and no ability to shower at camp, scouts were discouraged from entering the water.  We were extra cautious and had everyone that waded in the water wash their feet and legs with soap and water using the water spigot.  In hindsight, it would have been very easy to hook a garden hose up to the spigot to make bathing/showering easier.

We did not enter the main park during our visit but drove past the entrance on our way to and back from the campground.  On both instances, the main park was full at capacity and the rangers were turning people away.  We were very fortunate to experience nearly the same beach access that the day users got without needing to fight a crowd of people or needing to walk the nearly 4 mile round trip from the parking lot to the beach.  The walk to the private beach from the campground was approximately 1/4 mile and 75-100 feet of elevation change along a washed out fire road.

We also did not do any formal group hiking during this trip but there are miles of woods between the campground and the main park that could be explored.  Also, when the main park is not as busy (perhaps spring or fall seasons) there are several trails at the park that would be worth checking out including a trail that runs through a large marsh/pond.

Ultimately, the best aspect of this trip was the time spent hanging out at the campground.  Our scouts were excited to be outside again and really enjoyed the downtime playing in the wooded areas and taking turns on the slack line.  We probably could have easily added more group games and other activities that took advantage of the beautiful private campsite, but the more relaxed nature of this trip worked well for an end of summer campout.  The lack of shark teeth was a bit disappointing but the private campground experience made up for it.  I would recommend checking this park out again off season when the crowds at the main park are smaller and hopefully the flies are less aggressive.

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