Campground Crowding: Do new RVers need some lessons in good manners?

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crowded campgrounds

Updated weekly

More people than ever are taking up RVing. These newbies have determined that RVing is the safest way to travel in our pandemic times. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can make some sense of this and find ways to work around the problem.

Here are a few observations from our readers.

Last weekend’s poll asked, “How do you feel about the influx of new RVers” – and Wow – there are a lot of comments! The poll results? 36 percent are not too happy about it and think that’s why it’s harder to find places to stay, 18% percent see it as a good thing and are happy to see others taking up the lifestyle, and 47 percent don’t care.

A common thread among readers whether they were happy or not about new RVers was the overwhelming complaints about lack of campground etiquette. Some new RVers just don’t seem to get it.

Commenter Goldie had this suggestion: “I’m not happy about it because of the lack of basic campground etiquette shown by many of those newcomers. I don’t know how that basic education should occur but it should be mandatory for new campers.”

Linda S. sees the changes the influx of new RVers seems to have made: “Besides crowding in campgrounds, even more bothersome is that I am finding that there is a lack of etiquette and respect for the land, campground and other campers that just seemed to be automatically there in the past. Never did I worry about my things being stolen, and kindness and friendliness were the norm. For the most part, folks didn’t trash their space. It feels completely different now; a different type of camper seems to be prevalent. It’s sad to me; something has been lost which I really miss.”

Donn feels the same and writes: “Newbies need to learn what oldies have been practicing for a long time….manners.
Due to the influx of so many newbies, it would seem that our social history is changing somewhat. Last summer, for example, we met an outside around the campfire bass player and he could be heard everywhere around the camping area.
He had a simple setup….bass and small amp (150 watts) hooked up to the side of his camper, a popup, using a long wire. I’d offer up he was probably 30 years old and with his girlfriend, no apparent kids. Fortunately, he did observe the 10 p.m. quiet time. And, he did that until noon the next day, when he started up once again. The campground host at about 4 p.m. spoke with him. Disgruntled, he up and pulled out around 6 p.m.”

Anita H. is upset with the misuse of BLM land and leaves a reminder of why it is so important to leave space between rigs. “It’s all the entitled people camping on BLM land I have a problem with. They leave their trash, don’t dispose of human waste properly. Behold, who do they think is going to clean it up? No respect at all. And if you’re at a one rig spot they think they can just pull in beside you. We have a 35’ fifth wheel and need room to move when leaving.”

Cindy W. says she doesn’t mind new campers if they would just follow common courtesy. “I don’t mind the new campers if they would not be obnoxious in campgrounds (trashy sites, dogs barking, radios blaring, kids running uncontrolled), and clean up after themselves when boondocking. The vandalism and trash seen this last year is horrible.”

Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?
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BEST WAY TO TRAVEL IN A PANDEMIC

On a more positive note, Einar had this reflection on the rash of new RVers: “With what is going on right now with COVID-19, what choice do some of these folks have? It’s the best way to travel, I feel. You won’t see me sitting on a plane any time soon! And I see it as a time for families to spend more real time together, as long as they stop staring at their tablets and phones. It’s a good time to teach kids more about this country and to see it. And, hey, just remember we were all newbies ourselves at one time, and we probably had people watching and complaining about us too! And besides, sometimes they’re fun to watch!”

IT WON’T LAST FOREVER

To put some perspective on the long-term effects of campground crowding, new RVers and general outlook for the future, several RVers had this to say:

Reader volnavy007 sees it as a passing fad: “As with any ‘fad’ (e.g., hula hoops, pet rocks), the thrill wears off and the general population’s attraction wanes. Once many of the new owners get a taste of the lifestyle (and work involved) they will drop out. Others will be bitten by the bug and be hooked for a lifetime.”

Vanessa agrees: “I don’t think a lot of them will be around in 2 or 3 years. I mean, look at all the RVs already parked and never moving.”

Skip feels the same: “I don’t think about it. Once the pandemic is over, 95% of things will return back to where they were. They will be back to cruises, visiting islands and such. There will be a glut of RVs for sale by individuals, dealers or finance companies with repos. Because they won’t have to dump black and gray tanks, keep maintenance up, pay storage, clean, haul trash – the list goes on. So just be patient. It’s the weekend warrior that drives me nuts.”

Matt C. knows at least four units that he believes will hit the used market soon. “I know of several that only bought an RV because of the plague. Both asked me for opinions and neither listened. Both traveled this season and may next, but from discussions with them, they are not all for this. Without realizing the full benefit of RV travel (general, not specific), there is just no way to justify the effort and expense. Right now, I am willing to bet that I know of four units that will be on the market in two years or less.”

THE HAPPY UPSIDE

Kasey has this thought-provoking comment: “I’m happy about it in that it is expanding people’s stereotypes about RVers. We’re not all retirees heading to Florida every winter. We’re a diverse group of ages and interests who enjoy traveling with our own rolling accommodations – be it to escape winter as a retiree or to get out mountain biking as 20-somethings…and a vast array anywhere in-between! I do hope that there are a certain percentage that fall in love with the lifestyle and keep on RVing, though. It is good for the industry to have some growth and new faces!”

SOME ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM THE “NEWBIES”

It is worth remembering the first joys of RVing and that we were all “newbies” at one point.

Leonard has provided just that perspective. “Hi, I am one of the ‘newbies.’ Retired and bought a 35’ 5th wheel. Just to let you know I AM NOT one of the disrespectful campers you encounter. I have met great people willing to assist me with any and everything. A big thanks to them all! I have already started ‘paying it forward’ as well.
I did not learn to respect my neighbors, campgrounds, staff or anything else from a manual or RV dealer. I learned it over a lifetime. Yes, I wish there were more campground options for us all, but please don’t blame the newbies for this. At some point in time, you were all new to RVing as well. Thanks, and stay safe everyone!”

Another newbie, Jennifer W., is grateful to be learning about RVing from websites like RV Travel. “I’m a Newbie RVer! I read and read and read some more before we purchased our Class C Coachmen Leprechaun from RV Country. It was a former rental (so they said), was a year old, had 19k on it, and was immaculate. Despite all my research, we knew NOTHING. But the rig has turned out to be an excellent motorhome, with only minor issues. Just dumb luck. We are polite people by nature but it was very nice to read websites like this one for the proper etiquette rules of RV parks and campgrounds. We always make reservations, just like we did when we traveled pre-motorhome. Campgrounds have been crowded for sure! It’s January and literally ALL the state parks are completely booked every single weekend until October. So we’re adjusting and going mid-week, which we are lucky to be able to do. People are not always polite, for sure. Generally speaking, we have experienced private RV ‘resorts’ to be quieter and have more people following ‘the rules.’”

Now, some questions for you:

• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?

• If campgrounds continue to be crowded and RVing continues to become more popular, will it affect how or when you RV?

• Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share about finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded?

Please use the form below to answer one or more of these questions, or tell us what you’ve experienced with campground crowding in general.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here

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Keith
2 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

Yes.

Kathleen C
3 months ago

Linda S said: “Besides crowding in campgrounds, even more bothersome is that I am finding that there is a lack of etiquette and respect for the land, campground and other campers that just seemed to be automatically there in the past.”

I agree with Linda S… Kids who run around our rig or in the streets, owners who don’t pick up poo after their gigantic dogs leave a pile, destroying trees and the like are some of my list toppers. Then I have to open my big mouth because it is so annoying, unhealthy, disrespectful…take your pick.

I believe it goes back to how they were raised. As a retired school teacher, I’ve watched over the years as kids became more rude and disrespectful. After meeting some of the parents it was obvious where they got it.

As for having RVers take an etiquette or manners course, good idea, but those who need it don’t think it applies to them.

mark
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

No course but rather a handout of park rules upon entrance. For Gov’t parks Title 36 Chapter 111 Part 327.
Especially rules governing pets.

1880 Prospectors Ghost
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

YES ! – New RVers should be required to take a course in campground etiquette

Tom Ewing
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

The best parks are quiet and dark. Nobody is impressed with all those lights. We don’t have theater black-out curtains. Also, have you ever heard of anybody gushing over the close neighbor’s wind chimes on a warm breezy night?

James Charters
3 months ago

Twice this summer I had to ask the neighbor to move their popup shade cover so I could leave. The popup legs were about 2 inches from the side of my class A. One the legs were straddling my mirror.

Calvin Wing
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

Yes they should. it should have been taught by their parents but too many are raised by television which truly displays the worst of human behavior.
A rules sheet with required reading at checkin and a signature to verify they understand. Then a deposit that is only refundable if the campsite is left clean.

Goldie
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

Yes!

Bob P
3 months ago

Really when I encounter people like these I momentarily blame them, then when I think about it I’d like to meet their parents and hit them with Dr Spock’s book as it’s apparent they didn’t have the slightest idea what discipline is/was because all these newbies never received any. I and my siblings were raised with plenty of discipline and as a result we raised our children with discipline. That seems to be where it’s starting to fall apart as my grandchildren don’t seem to be getting their share of discipline. Let’s face it without discipline in our lives we’d all be acting like the newbies, our military could not function without it, discipline is what makes us responsible in our lives, it’s what makes us bend over to pick up a piece of trash, empty the garbage in the dumpster, etc. Modern day parents wanting to be friends instead of parents to their children is the problem. You can be friends after you parent your children.

Mary Warner
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Agree 100%. I would say that perhaps a small percentage of “newbie” RVers who are older have learned and follow basic rules of etiquette and manners. They might not know the correct way to dump or how to put out an awning, but most probably realize it’s not PC to leave your trash in a boondocking site or play disturbing loud music outside your vehicle or walk through other peoples’ campsite. Most millennials, on the other hand, seem to believe that they are “owed” and can do whatever they want. https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/rv-sales-soar-during-pandemic-travel-road-trip This article on soaring RV sales, with, according to the article, much of the growth “coming from millennials and younger families”. The sales person said: “… once they get into camping they realize how much fun it is and how you can do what you want, when you want and where you want and it’s all socially distanced,” Seems to express the millennial view of life in general.

Kathleen C
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Amen!

littleleftie
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

Absolutely. But this is the problem….those who truly would benefit from such a course are the ones most likely not to take it, figuring it is for “those other people”……..

Micheal Whelan
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

Have to? Any time I see those words I think government regulations … That said I do believe many new RV’ers may want to and would take advantage of such a class. RV dealers, RV clubs and organizations could offer such a class. We could consider an internet version of the class that people could take on line in a Zoom style in person class or as an on demand YouTube style class.

John
3 months ago
Should RVers have to take a course in campground etiquette?" Read more »

This is by no means a new issue. I’ve seen long time campers leave trash and cut live branches for kindling. I’ve seen new campers who were the most friendly and ‘proper’ campers in the campground. People are who they are regardless of their longevity in the world of camping.

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago
Reply to  John

True story, john.

Gman
3 months ago
Reply to  John

Agree! Did any one of us, you, take an “etiquette” course when you first started?

KellyR
3 months ago
Reply to  Gman

Well…in my case I was “etiquetted” by my parents.