April 12, 2004 – Crucians are known to hold on to their traditions with a firm grip, and Easter camping is a deep-rooted cultural commemoration. From Holy Thursday through Easter Monday, hundreds leave the comforts of home and camp out on one of the island's beaches.
From the West End to the east, beaches this long holiday weekend were lined with campers eager to get away from the routines of everyday life. Dorsch Beach, Castle Coakley, Salt River Bay, Little Bay, Lagoon, Ha'Penny Bay and Cramer's Park are just some of the popular camping areas.
The Samuel family made camp near the Frederiksted Pool. "This is the third year we have been camping," Rachael Samuel said. "We are all friends here."
The Samuels and an extended group of about 20 friends and family dominated the southern section of the beach. According to Samuel, many of their friends have been camping in that location for 15 to 20 years.
"I camp mainly for relaxation and to get away from the material things, to get back spiritual awareness, Samuel said as she lighted a cooking fire in a coal pot. " We don't bring TVs; I can stay home and watch TV. But some people do — to each his own."
Samuel's daughter Gail, who lives on St. Thomas, spent the weekend with the family on the beach. "This is what life is all about," she said, "family, a good beach and good food."
Some campers spent their time exploring the shoreline, swimming and relaxing. But sleeping in the shade of a seagrape tree was the favorite pastime for others.
The religious significance of the weekend was not lost on the campers. Many honored Good Friday by cooking only fish and left their campsites on Easter Sunday to attend worship services.
"We caught fish in the morning, cleaned it, and ate it in the afternoon" said one camper who was lounging on an air mattress.
The Samuel family attended a sunrise service at 5 a.m.
More than 2,000 people camped or spent Easter day at popular Cramer's Park beach on the East End. Security personnel, who were busy keeping the traffic flowing, expected the crowds to more than double on Sunday night with music lovers flocking to listen to their favorite bands. Scheduled to play were Extortion Band, Xpress and Franchize Band.
The weekend was incident free on the beaches, according to authorities. Police reported no problems connected to the campers, and Fire Service officers were pleased with the care people took with their campfires.
On Monday, it was time to take down the tents, load up the cooking gear and head home until next year.
"I am tired and sunburned but very relaxed," Samuel said.
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