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Crowds, noise, trash force these work campers to “retire”

By Brenda Odom
We have been campers for more than 30 years; we have been work campers for the past five of those. Before that, we spent a year managing a large coastal RV resort. In other words, I doubt we would be called “newbies.”

During our journey we have enjoyed the privilege of serving fellow campers, sharing whatever knowledge we have acquired along the way, meeting new friends and giving back to the community as volunteers. We have the Shutterfly albums, the campground patches, and the hiking medallions to prove it.

As I write this, my husband and I are taking a quick break from our current camp host duties. Below is a quick recap of just the first few hours of our day.

Work campers, the day-to-day

  • Check-in time is 4:00 p.m. Check-out time is 1:00 p.m. It is not even 11:30 a.m. yet and campers are lined up waiting to come in! (Shown in the photo above.) If you do the math, camp hosts should have three hours to clean and prepare sites. As near as I can figure, the above scenario results in a negative 1.5 hours of time to do our jobs. I am not even sure how to work backward!
  • As we cleaned sites this morning, we actually had waiting campers tell us it was okay with them if we did not clean the site… they just wanted in! Actually, we would love to not have to clean; we could just sit in our chairs and watch the caravan roll by. But we are old folks with that “work ethic” thing going, so we follow the requirements of our host park, which requires work campers to sanitize sites, spray touched surfaces with disinfectant (re COVID precautions), clean fire pits, and rake gravel sites to remove trash. We actually carry a sharps container just in case we find something undesirable that could harm you or your children. And when you say it is “okay” for us not to clean so you can ignore check-in time, then the trash in your fire pit and that big pile of dog poo left behind becomes your problem, not ours.
  • A few campers are leaving. Many will wait until check out time; several of those will exceed that time and when politely reminded, will look us dead in the eye and say, “Yes, we know.” (Translation: We are not leaving until we are good and ready.) I can’t swear to it, but I suspect these are the same ones who pulled in well before checkout time expecting to find a site!
  • One especially large Class A, pulling a 20’ trailer tall enough to stand in, has requested that my husband precede him as he leaves, trimming overhanging limbs along the way so that his McMotorhome won’t get scratched. This is a state park. We try hard, but there is no concierge service.

Becoming “just campers” once again

As I think about the above scenarios, I find myself tired, wanting a shower, and desperately needing to keep the good memories alive and untarnished by those of this brave new post-COVID-camping culture. And so we have both decided to become “just” campers once again.



We will camp during the week when things are quieter and we will avoid 200-site campgrounds with the crowds, the noise, the expensive glamping amenities, and search for the small town communities where folks are content to hike the trails, visit with neighbors, read a book, relax in their hammocks and smell the campfires and the fresh air. We will return to our camping roots and seek places where folks leave their sites clean, keep their music low, pick up after their pets and children, and abandon their privileged attitudes at the gate.

Those places are out there. I know they are. But I’m not telling where: That is a secret best kept for retired work campers.


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Sally Smith in CA
4 months ago

So true. We’ve owned an RV for 20 years and have stopped going to most places bc there’s no peace and quiet in many of these places. Loud music and parties take over and often no one does anything about it. There are rare exceptions. Then there’s the RV places that are simply just PARKING lots with hookups, where you’re so close to your neighbors you have no privacy or peace. That’s not camping. Last time we went to a CA State park and were literally kept up all night by partiers in the next site. I’m selling the RV.

Pam
5 months ago

I’m going to be 56 years old, and my husband is going to be 59. I’ve been camping since I was a kid. I’m raising 2 grandkids, and both boys have Autism!! We go camping too unwind, let loose, and have a great time. The boys meet new friend’s, and so does the rest of my grandkids!! We clean up our camp sites every time, but we didn’t go camping to be told to go to bed @ a certain time, or to shut off our generator, and music!! If you want quite time, then stay home, because it’s not fair to the rest of us!!🤬🤬🤬 Yes, we all have camped next to wild people!! Everyone just needs to mind their own business!! As far as people leaving poop 💩 from their dogs, and not cleaning up the camping sites, let them know they will be charged to their credit card, if you have to clean up the sites, or they did any damage to sites!! Problem solved!! Everyone enjoy yourselves, grow up, don’t be a downer for everyone else!! 😱😱😱

chris
5 months ago
Reply to  Pam

Everyone needs to follow the rules of the places they camp. Why are you raising grandkids?

Dianne Parsons-Olson
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

No loud noise past 10 (including generators) is not too much to ask imho

Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

I’m sorry, but I can’t accept this commentary, and I have a grandchild with Autism. It’s about common courtesy. I have never seen a campground without quiet hours. There may be exceptions with unnecessary rules, but basic rules are good for everyone.

Sally Smith in CA
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

You need to follow the rules! If you can’t then stay home!

Dorrie
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

A campground is not a disco/nightclub THAT is for your stick built home. Wait, if you party most likely the police will be called. I get it now. Yeap that mind set is what is ruining camping.

Bet
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

So turn the campground into a rave. Where every camper can be loud and party til 2:00 am, although the exhausted neighbor has an infant trying to sleep. Check the campground rules for quiet times, if the rules don’t work for your music volume then party at home. Your rules go both ways. Stay home and party. The worst camper is the one that thinks the rules should apply to them.

Sad Sarah
4 months ago
Reply to  Pam

Old saying: “Raise your kids right or you will be raising your grandkids.”

Reading the rest of this post, i feel for the grandkids.

David Hagen
5 months ago

Your first problem could be partially solved by changing your check-out and check-in times. In our part of the west, checkout is 11 AM and check-in is 1 PM. Your check-in time of 4 PM leaves no time for campers to get set up and enjoy the afternoon. And when it comes to cleaning sites, many people leave our camp sites shortly after breakfast. So cleaning starts earlier than 11 AM. And then, most campers stay for several days so all sites don’t have to be cleaned daily.

C BRONCO
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hagen

GOOD ANSWER, David!

Beachbumkin
5 months ago

My husband and I both empathize with you. We live in FL where everyone has flocked to. We were full timers for 4 years and did work camping post covid. After not being able to go to our favorite (quiet) camping spots during the week due to there being no availability, we both agreed to put both work camping and camping on hold until these post covid attitude-filled campers calm down a bit. Life was much simpler and more quiet prior to covid.

Rachelle Withrow
5 months ago

These so called campers are ruining it for all of us. It’s more relaxing staying home.

Jeff
5 months ago

Last time I used a state park campground was around 2009. I preferred the primitive camping scene. Had my 2 young children with me. Around 1 am the liquor kicked in with our neighbors and fights started breaking out. My kids learned lots of new language and were scared to death. I tried to get people to settle down but it’s hard to reason with drunks. After that experience I decided I was done and invested in a cabin that cost less than most RVs. It’s quiet, peaceful, and I don’t have to put up with other peoples disrespect of nature and fellow humans. When we want to rough it I pitch a tent in a wooded area on my property. Best decision and investment I ever made. Sucks that inconsiderate entitled aholes ruin it for everyone else.

John
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

State parks in NJ alcohol is a big NO. Rangers will bang you a 175$ ticket every time. They even get to know you and will check. On the river to,people think canoe and alcohol are a right. I like to watch the Rangers waiting and helping them beach, then hand them a ticket.

Tom Hoff
5 months ago

We have hosted several times during the last 5 years and, I have to say, are done with it. Asked to intervene in campsite fights, people wanting you to get out of bed at 10pm to buy firewood, early check ins robbing you of your duties time, late check out and the attitudes associated with them. Enough. Enforcement by park ranger staff is inadequate, with most not caring. Some do, most don’t. Campers again! So don’t ask…not happening.

Garry
5 months ago

Any more most camp grounds, especially conservation areas/campgrounds are the worst for inconsiderate idiots that care less some thirty feet away there is a tent that can hear everything to a tent trailer on the other side. Go ahead ask nice to have them keep it down and they have a hissy fit turning the noise levels up despite knowing they’re breaking the park rules to showing those around them that they care less if everyone else wants a little quiet on their side. Add pot smoking now, needles on the grounds to dog crap.
Camping is costly in most places but no longer enjoyable. We enjoyed being seasonal as during the week it might be quiet. Add dogs barking and it’s time to leave camping to those that enjoy each other’s noise.

ELENA
5 months ago

We are not nubies but I will say we do not arrive until it is time to check in. We leave when we need to leave but most of all we clean up after ourselves as a courtesy. I’m very upset that is going on. Charge a deposit and keep it if they want in early or leave late. So embarrassing. I’ve been in many campsites. I’ve seen camp hosts and extremely nice camp hosts. Hang in there we’re not all that way. Some of us have manners. We have even repaired picnic table and at times leave the site better than we found it. Your job is very important and you all do a great job. Very appreciated.

Kat
5 months ago

Kick them out..kick some all out! That’s absolutely horribly rude beyond obnoxious and they know better they can’t get the rules bent for themselves now it’s their bent for everyone else and it’s complete chaos. Never in my life outside demanded to check in early if I hear somebody excessively loud noise I’d be more than happy to go over there and deal with it myself bringing a pair of scissors if I need to cut any cords of their radio that’s too loud if needed 😆

Garry
5 months ago
Reply to  Kat

Kat, love your comment. I’ll bring the wire cutters. LOL

John
5 months ago
Reply to  Kat

And that’s the attitude that everyone else is talking about.

Larry
5 months ago

As campers ourselves we appreciate what you do. I have always thought of camp hosts as babysitting the “adult” campers. I don’t have the patience.

Phillip
5 months ago
Reply to  Larry

Some adults can be the biggest children at times, and they don’t even notice their behavior nor think about what its teaching the next generation.

TERRIE
5 months ago

We are regular campers and we always leave our site cleaner than we found it. I have a litter clamp and trash bag and police our site and outer edge of the campsite. I have picked up chip bags, candy wrappers, beer bottle caps, cigarette butts, toys, and have even found a few tools. I also clean the picnic table the first and last day we arrive. I also clean up after my dog and other people’s dogs as well. The camp hosts do a great job. They are volunteers. I just want to do my small part to help them out.

Carol Beckwith
5 months ago

This doesn’t surprise me. I understand your situation.

Greg
5 months ago

The problem is not the new camper, its the host and campground. Not everyone knows or understands the etiquette of camping. I was taught 30 years ago and have had some minor issues with what works today since we sre now back into camping starting 3 years ago. If you dont like the barking dog, just be polite and let the front office take care of it. The TV outside is ok with me as long as i dont have to hear it.

Last edited 5 months ago by Greg
Shar
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

It isn’t the new campers. It’s easy to READ THE RULES before u head out to camp. Most websites give the rules, and times to arrive and depart… Plain and simple. Eveytime we camp and we’re near someone we ALWAYS ask if our music is too loud or if the kids are too loud. It’s called being a decent respectful human being. I’ve just recently started camping and my family/friends would never do anything like that. everything that she stated above just seems like spoiled {bleeped} ppl who don’t give 2 craps about what the camp hosts have to do. Everyone should understand to come at the time ur supposed to. Clean ur crap up and be respectful. That’s not even camping etiquette it’s EVERYDAY etiquette and if ppl don’t understand that they should probably stay home…..forever. lol

chris
5 months ago
Reply to  Shar

Boy I hear that. I was kept awake until after 2am last night by noisy inconsiderate slobs. I spoke to the camp host this morning, who said nothing about ‘sorry’, or ‘let us know and we’ll take care of it’ or anything to indicate she really gave a darn. There’s two sides to every story.

S. R. Putnam
5 months ago
Reply to  chris

As a camp host, I hate to hear that but know that it happens. Time to give a respectful review to their boss (and, they DO have one!)

Kristi
5 months ago
Reply to  Shar

I COMPLETELY AGREE!
The last time I was camping, there were people in another campsite 50ft away drinking, & loudly playing some sort of game with explicit terms & requirements until 3am! There we’re children sleeping in a tent not far from mine!
IF EVERYONE would have the etiquette Shar has, I bet campgrounds would be more enjoyable for all & fees wouldn’t need to be high & frequently increasing. Extra $$$$ is needed to replace/repair vandalized picnic tables, other amenities, & dispose of discarded trash. The trash would be minimal, & others wouldn’t be scraping dog crap from their shoes! Let alone scrubbing it from the inside their RVs or tents! It’s inconsiderate & flat out NASTY! I’m not anti-dog or pet, but RESPONSIBLE owners CLEAN UP after them. If ppl don’t want/like to clean up after their dogs, then don’t have them or take them camping. (Maybe they can pay their home poop service to camp with them?) A bag in the pocket isn’t a burden. Then please dispose of it properly.
IF EVERYONE would take part, be considerate & take Pride in our campgrounds, etc. AMERICA WOULD BE GREAT AGAIN!
Our campgrounds, rest areas, public toilets, parks, hiking trails, etc, ARE A PRIVILEGE, NOT an Entitlement!
We ALL NEED to do our part taking care of those privileges, so we can continue having them. Just think, what it’d be to no longer have roadside public restrooms, campground picnic tables/toilets/fire pits/boat launches, etc….

What happened to If you drop it pick it up. If you, your animals/children break it YOU take responsibility & pay for it!
If you make a mess clean it up!
If you use it, put it back. TEACH your children to do the same! Children learn by example.
Instead of “It’s job security, we pay these high prices, someone else can clean it up!” It’s NOT a PRIVILEGE to Destroy, Destruct, or Deface, our public property, or the property of others! You are NOT ENTITLED to leave Your mess, & problems to someone else!
Attitudes in our country have gone down the toilet! What’s happened to Caring & Pride in the U.S.A?
Come On People! If we’re “UNITED” we accomplish much more!

Garry
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristi

Kristi,
You described the norm these days in camp grounds. They need a new rule where the neighbors may attack you as they see fit if you disturb others. Ahh, piece and quiet all of a sudden. And this is Canada. No difference in camping. Great comment though.

John
5 months ago
Reply to  Kristi

You hit the nail on the head. The last generation of campers weren’t even taught proper manners at home. How does anyone expect them to act differently while camping?

Garry
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg, I understand your position however from experience the office goes and tells the people to keep the dog quiet and leaves. Guarantee within five minutes that dog is tied outside and left to bark it’s rear end off. The office usually says “your neighbors” mentioned your dog is Barking on top. Been there done that.

John J Ross
5 months ago

As lifetime campers, okay, we spend more time camping in the summer than at home, we’ve found that camping has become what we escaped from to enjoy. Rude folks, running generators all night, unleashed dogs that attack everything, drinking parties that last till 4 am, racing side by sides or atvs through the campgrounds and much, much more. But what has become the biggest nightmare is those who can’t find or afford homes, and live in recreational campgrounds. Tons of trash, several vehicles, almost permanent fixtures that consume 60% to 70% of national, state or local campground spaces, some year-round. I do feel sorry for the homeless, but there’s hardly anywhere to go to actually “be outdoors” any longer, without having the burden and stress of city life following you. Rangers try to move these people around or out, but even in the wild, there’s no civility when comes to some of these squatters. It’s sad, them having to live this way, and our children not getting a real outdoor experience.

Sandy Beach
5 months ago

We have been camper for 30 years. But over the past 3 years we have noticed a difference in the availability of our much loved camp grounds. We can’t even find a camp site anymore, unless we book 6 months in advance. We have also noticed how many people camp with big screen TV,s
Attached to the outside of their castle on wheels. Its ridiculous why do they even go camping? Just stay home if your going to annoy everyone around you with your TV. We can to get away from all that! Maybe they camp so they can let their screaming kids run wild through the camp ground. I guess you cant really do that at a hotel..we are so sick of it all. We really wish that things would just go back to the way it use to be when we could camp and hike and just enjoy nature, listen to the wind in trees and the birds singing.

Kelly Strong
5 months ago
Reply to  Sandy Beach

I agree. It’s been a nightmare trying to camp since COVID. My boyfriend and I used to camp all summer (small campgrounds, rustic) and can’t find sites anymore. We went to a campground and half of the sites were empty. Sites we wanted, but couldn’t book!! And if we were to move to one of these empty sites ,we would have to pay twice. For sites that weren’t even being used! But some yahoo booked multiple sites and didn’t use the other ones. Happens all the time. Camping is a great escape from our stressful jobs and we enjoy it. But now COVID campers have ruined it. It makes me sad and our stress levels are out of control as we can’t escape the grind anymore… Trying again this year, and again, no sites available. 😥

Tamy H
5 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Strong

I completely agree with everything you say. My husband and I feel the same way about these COVID campers! Ugh!

Mark
5 months ago
Reply to  Tamy H

COVID campers. I agree 100%. I just hope we will see a mass exodus of these campers soon as they once again check in to their hotels and ditch their campers. Can’t wait to wave bye to them. If you don’t know what Covid campers are just watch the rv buying shows on tv. Makes you sick.

Bo Borden
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Mark, I would be interested in watching one of those shows, I guess you can tell I’m new to camping…..do you know the names of any of them? I like to watch anything about RV’s/camping lifestyle.

David
5 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Strong

Go to a national forest preserve. Every state has one. There, if you like camping is where to go. Find your own place to camp, and, best of all, free! Just leave it like you found it…pristine. Yes, this can be done, we have done it many times. No electric, no fire pits, no water. It’s an absolute blast!

Lorelei
4 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Strong

I agree also. But the noise did not just start with covid. Since when is hollering, screaming and dog barking needed to unwind? I imagine they do all that at home also. They “unwind” wherever they are. Go camping to watch television? I got a small RV with no television on purpose. My dog does not bark because he has better manners than most kids or grownups. I was taught not to bother people, screaming is ridiculous and disrespectful. No one hears me or my dog. Train your kids, train your dog!

4:00 is a bit late to check in, but follow the rules or stay home. Our state parks are 4:00 check-in. It is most inconvenient. I leave home in the dark so as not to advertise I’m not home, so I have to find something to do until 4 p.m.

John
5 months ago
Reply to  Sandy Beach

Amen

Martin
5 months ago

I sympathize with the author and don’t blame her for taking a breather. Rude inconsiderate campers have always been an issue for everyone. We have found that the closer one gets to major metro areas the greater the chance of having them in campgrounds. Noise used to bother us until we discovered silicone ear plugs! As a matter of fact, we plan on tent camping this coming summer because of them.

Robert
5 months ago

I got and RV 2 years ago on a nice sale for my family (me, Wife, 2 kids 6 and 2). Learned a lot about how to maintain it and all that. Our first stay we went on non busy days and asked the person running the place for the dos and don’ts. She said I was the first to ask that all year and it was Sept. been camping in an RV only a few times with my cousins. She made it pretty simple, follow the rules give some buffer to check in and out. She said like 30 mins I went to an hour. Added have my wife take the kids elsewhere since they’re small to clean up and load up to avoid the headaches. Have fun but remember there’s other people here.

Joe
5 months ago

The way I see it their is a list for people waiting to be camp hosts. If it is not for you then you should go back to just camping. You are dealing with the public when you decided to take the job. Is the public as considerate as they could be no not at all. Why because you people that are so perfect forgot to raise your kids with discipline and teach them the Bible. Their is no respect for rules because their was no teaching of the rules.

S. R. Putnam
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Wow.
As a camp host myself (6+ years), I am not surprised by the original post, at all. But dealing with folks who act special, think the rules don’t apply to them (“I know, but…”), and yell, swear and threaten you are not behaviors that host should simply accept with a shrug. Though we do understand rudeness will come with the territory. But those lines of people waiting to be hosts are often the same entitled arrogant “special” people – looking for a “free” campsite. 🙄

j tracy
5 months ago

I think a lot of the comments show the real problem. If you’ve spent a ton of money to buy a rig that essentially gives you all the comforts of home so you can “go out in nature” you will naturally feel like you “deserve” certain accommodations.
On the other hand, if you truly enjoy and respect nature and truly attempt to minimize the impact you have on it, you are much more likely to simply be grateful for the opportunity. The fees you are paying are not nearly enough to make up for overall impact of “seeing nature” in your big rig. They are hardly enough to pay for cleaning up after all the “bad campers”. Let alone feeling like you deserve anything more than the joy it should bring.

Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  j tracy

This article is not about big rigs.

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