Winning Camp Cardinal Photos Show Off Campground’s Natural Beauty

The winners of Camp Cardinal RV Resort’s inaugural photo contest captured the magic of Virginia’s outdoors and celebratory moments experienced at the year-round campground located on the Severn River.

“The collection of photos show how fun a trip to Camp Cardinal can be – from the beauty of the outdoors to family fun, like swimming, fishing and quality time,” said Laura Messer, Destination Development Manager for Virginia Tourism Corporation and one of five judges for the competition.  “It was great to experience Camp Cardinal through the eyes of its visitors.”

More than 200 entries were submitted tagging Camp Cardinal @campcardinalrv on Instagram and/or @CampCardinalRV on Facebook. Winners were announced via Facebook Live on Jan. 19, 2024.

First place went to Lucy Hunter, a sophomore at Kettle Run High School at Nokesville, Virginia, and the Mountain Vista Governor’s School for Math, Science and Technology. Hunter used her camera’s flash to reflect a glorious sunset off The Boat Shack sign.

“While it seems hard to believe, this photo is completely unedited,” said Hunter, who plans to pursue astrophotography. “The sky looked exactly like that.”

Hunter will receive the $1,000 award; her photo of a group of geese at sunrise, also taken with her Canon Rebel T7, tied for third, giving her an additional $250.

Hunter credits her father who introduced her to photography, adding, “I am extremely proud of all my photos from Camp Cardinal, and I truly couldn’t have taken them without the near-magical scenery the camp has to offer. My family went to Camp Cardinal over the summer for Busch Gardens, but kayaking along the Severn River and making smores over the campfire was also a great experience.”

Brenda Bass’ stunning portrait of the nighttime sky taken on Nov. 4, 2023, with an iPhone won the second-place award of $750. The Richmond resident is a seasonal camper who holds fond memories of camping trips with her father, whom she lost in 2007.

“That particular day I was sitting by the river and thinking about my dad,” she said. “It was the most gorgeous sky I ever saw in my entire life, like a picture from God. When I was standing there on that river, all I could think of was my dad and that sky was like a stairway to heaven.”

Haley Morgan of Gloucester tied with Hunter for third for a photo snapped with her iPhone of her children, Brinley and Bristol, underneath the fireworks on July 4.

“We stayed at Camp Cardinal for a little over a year in our fifth wheel and the girls absolutely loved it the entire time,” she said.

Morgan will receive $250.

Honorable mention, which includes a free full week stay at Camp Cardinal, went to Courtney Dye, who spent Father’s Day weekend there celebrating her husband and his two brothers.

The photo taken with an iPhone features her son, Isaac, 11, cooling off at the water park. “We had a great time, and it was burning hot,” she said. “Camp Cardinal is our favorite place to go.”

Spending time in their camper is a respite for the family from caring for Dye’s aging parents. “We love the convenience of it, and we love that we can pick our site,” she said. “We love that they allow us to check in early for a very small fee. They’re so accommodating, and Camp Cardinal is close to everything in case of an emergency. It’s super clean and the maintenance staff is amazing.

In addition to Messer, the judges for the photo competition were Rob Ostermaier, lead Photographer for Consociate Media; Sara Harris, owner of Sara Harris Photography in Gloucester Point; Lewie Lawrence, Executive Director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission; and Katey Legg, Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in Gloucester.

Ostermaier complimented the array of diverse images as “a nice mix of outdoor photos and fun family moments.” Conveniently located just five miles from historic Yorktown and 20 miles from Colonial Williamsburg, Camp Cardinal at 3149 Campground Road in Hayes. Camp Cardinal offers everything from fishing, crabbing, kayaking and access to the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay, to planned activities and crafts, a playground, basketball and volleyball courts, a jumping pillow, pool, splash park, and more. Day passes are available.