Saturday, September 30, 2023


RV Shrink: I feel like I’m being booked into jail when checking into a campground!

Dear RV Shrink:
Is it just me, or are the lists of campground rules getting longer and more complicated? Sometimes I think I should have a lawyer before I agree to a camping reservation. Most items on the lists are just common sense issues that shouldn’t need pointing out. I feel like I’m guilty until proven innocent every time I pull into a campground.

I am prompted to write you because I just paid $45 to stay at a campground, and the manager read me a 15-point list of rules before I was allowed to pay and set up. I thought she was going to have me turn sideways so she could get a mug shot, then have me recite the Ten Commandments.

I chose this lifestyle seeking the freedom of the road, not to be boxed into a set of rules that make me uncomfortable every time I accidentally shut the door too loudly during quiet hours. —Over-Ruled in Rio Verde

Dear Over-Ruled:
I  feel your frustration, but I really can’t sympathize with you. What you and I might call common sense, others view as unreasonable. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, someone does something stupid and I just have to cringe.

Last week I noticed a young couple in a tent site that was directly behind a large motorhome. This family out for a quiet weekend suddenly was being asphyxiated by an inconsiderate neighbor blowing his generator noise and exhaust directly into their site. The motorhome owner had zero common sense and insisted he was within his rights as it was during generator hours. If it were not for mob rule, he would have been happy to gas this family just so he could watch the morning news and microwave his waffles.

The only reason the lists of rules continue to grow is the fact that stupidity is on the rise. Try to think of your irritations from the perspective of the campground owner or manager. I recently tried to use a shower at Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona. Someone had obviously colored their hair and left all their used paraphernalia in the stall for someone else to clean up. That, I assure you, is not the worse I have seen. I would be embarrassed to even mention some of the other conditions I have seen in campground shower stalls.

Many rules deal with noise, but also trash, collecting firewood, feeding wildlife, unsupervised campfires, barking dogs, alcohol use, and vehicle numbers per site. I would consider all these common sense items, but you will always find bad actors who are not on the same wavelength as the rest of society. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch, and it doesn’t take much camping experience to discover a bushel of bad apples.

The problem I see is not the rules, but the enforcement. Especially in forest service campgrounds you find slow or no response from management. Most are managed by volunteers trading free camping for minimal supervision. They are not obligated, trained, or expected to intervene in blatant rule violations.

Often a law enforcement ranger is not conveniently available and the situation just continues with impunity. That is why our home has wheels. It is much easier to relocate than deal with rude, stupid people. So my advice would be to embrace campground rules and think of them more as protection than harassment.

Above all, Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



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Joe Allen
3 years ago

We full timed for 6 years and then went back to a stick and brick. Now, we are full time again and came across a first for us in over 7 years of on the road, as we were asked for our insurance company for our coach and the RVIA certificate.
I also agree that people are getting more stupid and I don’t see a decline coming anytime soon. Dumping one’s black/grey tanks seems to be a major obstacle for most and believe me, I have seen it all. We are our own worst enemy and just another reason why more and more wally worlds have stopped overnight parking. The people who put out their lawn chairs, bbq grills and awnings have given us all a black eye. Wake Up People!

3 years ago

Dear RV Shrink,
It is the responsibility of the RV park/campground management to NOT place a tent directly behind or next to a large motor home that may operate their generator.

3 years ago

Wed have been camp hosts for the BLM for the last three years. No More.
With the current political atmosphere, people are now at a stage that they are exempt from any kind of rules. And that they should pay for day use NOT ME. It got so it was just not safe being a host anymore. ATVs and ORV were not allowed but they would say it didn’t apply to them. We saw the enforcement ranger one-time last year as he drove through and waved. The campground we were at was mostly used by locals and had a boat ramp to the reservoir. The tourists that found the place were great. It was the locals that didn’t want the BLM or any government in their lives.

3 years ago

I sympathize with your dilemma. Often we do not realize what pigs some campers can be.

All I can say is, when the list of rules is long, or there is a sign tacked up everywhere you turn in the campground saying do this or don’t do that, people simply stop bothering to read them. If you’re very conscientious you try, but, it’s recreation. I’m not reporting for work at your site, I’m trying to have fun. I do go ahead and read them, but I can understand my fellow campers ignoring the list and assuming what’s ‘common sense’ to them is okay.

(My favorite ‘rule and regulation’ was the one where the management ‘required’ you to wipe off the top of the laundry machines at each use–it was fully staffed with people sitting bored at a desk 15′ away. Uh-huh, I’ll get right on that.)

3 years ago

Along this same topic…

Is it just me or are our privacy rights being trampled upon?

When registering at campgrounds, not only are “rules” an issue (even though to a point, I can agree with the RV Shrink with some exceptions), but we feel like they are obtaining WAY to much information just to stay on site. It gets rediculous at times. Why do some campgrounds feel the need to get a copy of your drivers license, rig plate, and truck plate? Why do they need to ask a thousand questions about your personal life? I can see some of them trying to use it for marketing to you for a future stay but how many are selling your information or using it perhaps for illicit purposes? How do they secure your information to keep others from stealing it? I have been known to ask questions before answering questions. It seems many of them gather this information on card stock and then after a year, they throw it in the trash. Not a shreader or burn pit. What a way to get your info stolen! Often times, we pay in cash. You either want my business or not. I don’t feel a need to fill out personal data cards just so a campground owner can profit from it or lose it without my permission. I guess we are just all criminals and they want to see our parole records first. There is just nothing like boondocking to eliminate risk (regardless of how low it might be). So, to the same point, I either feel like we are going to jail or just got paroled every time we camp in a campground. I suspect a DNA test or blood check is next. I appreciate those that just take cash and we part ways as friends. The down side there is that we don’t get a 3% discount for paying in cash (since the owner does not have to pay fees to the credit card company) and we loose credit card points.

Is there just a way to use your credit card (like at a store) and move on?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this as well.

3 years ago

It goes both ways. We have a list of campgrounds we will no longer patronize, as they give you a long list of rules to follow and make you sign in agreement before they will let you in. They, of course, are under no obligation to abide by their own rules (pool/spa age restrictions, quiet hours, speed limits, etc), and will bend any or all of them if it can make them an extra buck. Our number one rule is to not stay at any park that features a bar where alcohol is served, as they seem to be the most egregious at policing themselves.

Ed D.
3 years ago

Just when you think the rules have made a Campground Foolproof, they make a better Fool!

Doug S
3 years ago

I would like to leave a comment, but, the last campground I stayed at forced me to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and I can’t for one year.

Ed D.
3 years ago
Reply to  Doug S

Non Disclosure agreements are like Toilet paper, you should use it to clean up afterwards. They are totally unenforceable in a court of law!

3 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

I think it was meant as a joke.

3 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Sarcasm Ed.

Ed D.
3 years ago
Reply to  Darrel

Okay, Bill already enlightened me! Enough already.

3 years ago
Reply to  Doug S

Good one.

3 years ago

I for one am happy that campground owners lay out the rules of expected behavior. That way I can easily identify the stupid people in the area.

Bill T
3 years ago

Agreed with the comment about rule enforcement. The rules that are listed on the registration form seem to be for parks and campgrounds liability coverage only. Good luck at getting the campground staff to respond to any of the blatant rule violations. I have contacted campground management a few times for inconsiderate campers around me. Not only noisy diesel trucks and other “unmuffled” vehicles, but also the inconsiderate dog owners who walk their dogs, thinking it is okay that they visit every other dog in the park with constant barking at 5 am.

Donald N Wright
3 years ago

Mesa Verde’s Morefield campground has to have signs in the showers not to urinate or defecate in the showers. America has visitors from other countries where this is acceptable. As for law enforcement, Morefield campground has a campground host, volunteers, armed rangers and Federal law enforcement.

3 years ago

What country is it acceptable to defecate in the showers? Not third world countries where they urinate or defecate in rivers, ponds or streams cuz their bathing. I’m talking showers that you are mentioning. That would certainly be a health issue in the country those visitors are from. Not speaking of India where 48% of the population don’t have access to toilets and defecate outside. Just curious, maybe I’ll learn something, like not visiting that or those countries.

Bob p
3 years ago
Reply to  Gman

This is just one of the reasons I stay here in the good old USA, I had my fill of 3rd world customs and practice when I was in the Marines. There isn’t one country I’d like to be in but here.

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob p

Nailed it, brother vet . . .

chris p hemstead
3 years ago

and I’ve seen bathroom signs to flush your TP, don’t put it in the trash.

3 years ago

That is not really surprising. The US is in the minority on this I think.

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