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
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
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