I’m getting confused, and apparently so are a lot of government officials and media folks in the U.S.
Just what IS “camping” these days?
A week doesn’t go by when I don’t see a news story about some community’s efforts to ban “homeless camping” or “campers” living on the streets full time in ramshackle RVs. These stories pop up right beside those for proposals for the construction of fancy new campground/RV parks and other good tales about the RVing lifestyle.
If you aren’t a camper yourself, it’s easy to see the confusion caused by lumping together a traveler in a $400,000 Tiffin with an unfortunate soul huddled in a cardboard box village under an overpass.
At first glance, you might say, “What’s the big deal?”
Real campers are getting a bad name because these officials see few differences. In the minds of many officials, “campers” – whether in a lean-to with a blanket or a palace on wheels – are often tarred with the same brush and deemed “undesirables.”
The big deal is that misinformed city councils and planning boards all over the country are lumping all “campers” into the same bucket whether they are considering dealing with their homeless problems or debating the approval of multi-million-dollar RV resort developments. Take a look at our recent story about that issue HERE.
The facts are that RV park developments are big business, and they bring a constant flow of fresh dollars into local economies that would not have access to that cash any other way. RVers spend locally, and those dollars roll over several times. To put true campers in the same category as the unfortunate folks living on the streets is a disservice to RVers, RV park developers, local citizens, and even those who are truly homeless.
Homelessness is a national crisis and needs to be addressed at every level. But let’s not confuse it with camping.
The desire to build an RV park and the need to deal with homeless Americans are different issues that require very different solutions. We can’t let local officials dilute either by continually misinterpreting the definition of what camping really is.
Keep your eyes open for instances where the term “camping” is misused and be ready to call the offenders on the carpet. Recreational camping is camping. Homeless encampments are something else entirely.
What do you think? Please leave a comment.