The Things I’ve Learned From Campers

Having worked on campgrounds, as well as having various family members and friends who have, you have a large number of stories to tell.  At any gathering,  tales are shared of the things that were run into at one point or another.   It can start with “You wouldn’t believe this one!” followed by “Oh yeah, I had that, and then there was…”  As we sometimes say, you can’t make this up.  I’ve taken a selection of them (no, not all happened to me), and made them into the “lessons” I learned from various campers.  Helpful hint:  Don’t do any of these!

I’ve learned that the best time to arrive at a campground is midnight.    This way you avoid all the bothersome details of checking in, and you get to try out those new high-intensity floodlights.  I’ve also learned that it’s important that unpacking and setting up be done to music, and to speak loudly so that you may communicate clearly with the other members of your party.

I’ve learned that under no circumstances should you bother to practice setting up your new tent or trailer, or read the instructions before you arrive at the campground.  In fact, leave the instructions at home!  It’s a well-known fact that the campground staff just lives to be helpful and will gladly help you set up at midnight in the rain!

I’ve learned that there is absolutely no sense in using the battery to power the lights in your RV when you wake up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom.  That’s what the generator is for – use it.

I’ve learned that other campers are sadly deficient in their experience of good music.  It’s your job to educate them and broaden their horizons!  This is best done by setting your portable stereo system to maximum volume at 11 PM.

I’ve learned that life preservers are really uncomfortable to wear when boating, and are optional on windy days when the water is really choppy.  Besides, even though you can’t swim, there’s absolutely no chance of the boat turning over, so it’s best to leave them on shore to make room in the boat for your fishing gear!

I’ve learned that your land navigation skills exceeds that of any of the staff or forest rangers.  Following marked trails or reading a map is for people who don’t know the the shortest way through the woods to a destination, like you.

I’ve learned that no one knows how to navigate a waterway better than you.  Paying attention to navigational markers, buoys, and the advice of people who are on the water every day is for those who lack your skills at high speed seamanship.

I’ve learned that no camping trip is complete without a roaring fire.  If you aren’t putting at least a face cord of wood in the fireplace at a time, then it’s not big enough.

I’ve learned that the best place to dispose of your bottles, cans, and other garbage is in the roaring fire you’ve built.  There’s absolutely no need to sort it all out, bag it,  and bring it up to the recycling center.

I’ve learned there’s absolutely no reason to cut and split wood for your fire when you can put a couple of 6 foot long, 18″ thick logs across the fireplace.  Sooner or later, they’ll burn.

I’ve learned that it’s well-known that the staff loves to pull your leg, particularly by pretending the bears are wild animals.  The bears are actually tame,  are penned up during the day and released every evening for your entertainment.  You  must put out food for them, since no camping experience would be complete without seeing a real bear!

I’ve learned that nothing enhances your camping experience like alcohol, and plenty of it.  It’s recommended that you consume at least a case of beer and a fifth of liquor a day. Wine may be substituted for the beer.

I’ve learned that the best thing about camping is that you don’t need to pay attention to what your children are doing, or where they’re going.  They need to explore and learn to enjoy nature on their own.

I’ve learned that if you don’t like the camping site you reserved, you should feel free to pick another one and move there.  There’s  absolutely no need to inform the staff of this, because since it was empty, it obviously wasn’t reserved.

I’ve learned that it is not necessary to bring any prescription medications with you, particularly if you happen to be violently allergic to certain insects or plants.  The campground staff has a stock of these medications they’ll be happy to issue you in case of anaphylactic shock.

I’ve learned that the campground supervisor has absolute control of the weather and local “wildlife”.  One should  inform the staff of any deficiencies noted in the weather, if birds call at inconvenient hours, squirrels and chipmunks run across your site without permission, or other similar issues arise so they can have him or her address the problem immediately.

I’ve learned that you don’t need to read to camp.  If fact, there is no need to pay any attention to the signs cluttering the view.  The campground staff is always happy to provide directions should you, for some unknown reason, suffer a failure in your normally infallible sense of direction.

I’ve learned that the terms “Accessible Only By Boat”  or “Tent Only” are “only” advisory, and they shouldn’t prevent you from bringing your 38-foot RV.

I’ve learned that when passion strikes, you and your partner should give in to it right away.   Remember, parents are always looking for an excuse to tell their children about the “birds and the bees,” and you’re giving them the opportunity to do so.

I’ve learned that despite the fact that the campground system has only allowed reservations through a reservation system for the past 10 years,  you should still call the campground directly to make your reservation.  If the person who answers the phone tells you about the reservation system, insist that you’ve always made your reservations this way in the past.

I’ve learned that a three-day camping trip for six people requires three vans fully loaded with food, drinks, and equipment.  Starvation is always lurking around the corner, so it behooves you to bring an average of 100 pounds of food per day for each person.

I’ve learned that holidays – or heck, any day, really – should be celebrated with fireworks.  If there’s not a fireworks display in the area, you should feel free to provide one for the entertainment of your fellow campers.



Filed under Humor, Parks

11 responses to “The Things I’ve Learned From Campers

  1. overseasgranny

    My aunt learned that the chances of boats moving apart while one is transferring from one to the other in the middle of the lake and have one foot in each boat are rather higher than one would imagine.

    • One of my favorite stories is from a friend who ran an island campground. She rented a canoe out to this couple, and, when she found out they’d never used one before, made it a point to make sure they knew that canoes are not stable, and can tip over easily if you’re not careful. Sure enough, the woman stood up in the canoe, and over it went. They had to be rescued by a group from a site near where they went over. The funny thing? The group that rescued them was a bunch of kids from a special needs organization. As my friend said, “Just how bad is it when the special needs kids have to rescue you, after doing something they know not to do?”

  2. overseasgranny

    And there is a law that the deeper one implants a fish hook into ones finger, the farther away a doctor’s office will be from the lake.

  3. Aquagranny911

    I so had to lol at your comment because many ago we had to go to the emergency room of our local hospital in a small New England coastal town to get our daughter some treatment for a broken nose & head bump acquired in a soccer game.

    While waiting for the doctor, I noticed a rather prominent display in a case on the wall of dozens of fish hooks and lures, some quite frightening in the number and size of their hooks. I asked the Doc about this and his reply was:

    “Oh, that’s our trophy case. Every one of those was one we had to remove from some fisherman’s body.”

    • The “prescription medication” bit is from my own experience. We had a guy come to the campground HQ and ask us if we had an Epi-pen. When we said no, and asked why, he said “Oh, my wife left hers at home. She’s very allergic to bees, and she just got stung. ” We promptly turned around and called in an ambulance, while he was saying that he didn’t think it was “necessary.” 🙄

  4. Aquagranny911

    I would laugh but that situation calls for crying. People like this should stay home and camp out in their own back yards.

  5. addisnana

    My camp hosting job is at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Area. The BWCA has lately made the list of wilderness places people should see before they die. The people who come for that reason are often woefully unprepared for a wilderness experience. A man from China came with brand new in the box equipment from REI. He had never slept outside. With his limited English and my total lack of Chinese we managed to get his tent up, the batteries in his headlamp and his kitchen operational. Then when I found out he planned to canoe in alone with no map or compass, I took him into an outfitter in town for a guided trip.

    I do wish that the writers who rightly extoll the wonders of the wilderness would put more cautions in their articles. This is not like visiting Disneyland.
    I may accidentally miss one of these folks and their survival skills are non-existent.

    • I live in the Adirondacks, which is the largest park in the lower 48. I’m a “native” (5’th generation) here, and I spent much of my youth running around the woods here, so to me a lot of things are “second nature.” But, we get a lot of tourists from NYC or elsewhere, and it often seems that they think “park” means something like a city park or picnic area. It’s hard for them to grasp that there’s no cell phone service, that there’s not a handy hospital or clinic nearby, that the animals are not tame, and nature is not your friend. When I was out west, one of the NPS people told me they sometimes referred to their rescues as “INS missions”: Interfering with Natural Selection. I have a friend who runs an island campground, and every year she has at least one person show up with a reservation who has brought an RV. They get very upset that they can’t take it to their site. I said “Let me guess – they thought “Island” was a marketing ploy, not a description.” 🙄

  6. I love this, Norbrook. And though it’s been a while since I’ve been camping, I’ve seen many of these things happen. My absolute favorite though was being in a “tent only” site sandwiched between two huge RVs with generators, televisions, satellite links… well you can picture it.

    I left the next day.

    • Yes, I can picture it. I remember camping with my girlfriend and another couple in a National Forest down near DC, and we woke up on a Saturday morning to hear what sounded like television cartoons. When we got out of the tent, the people who had arrived the previous evening in the site across from us had their kids gathered around a portable television, watching cartoons. Our reaction was “you’ve got to be kidding!”