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The great outdoors is not a “personal plaything”

Another month, another marketing opportunity for the people trying to sell you stuff, another disappointment to Mother Nature. In this case, the stuff is anything to do with getting out of the house, as June is the officially designated Great Outdoors Month, “a month to celebrate the outdoors and recognize outdoor recreation’s contributions to the mental, physical and economic health of the United States.”

Or that’s how it’s explained in a somewhat tone-deaf promotional release from the RV Industry Association, coming as it is on the heels of multiple mass shootings, the biggest wildfires in New Mexico’s history, skyrocketing fuel and housing costs and other suggestions that the country’s mental, physical and economic health isn’t quite up to snuff. But urging Americans to get out of the house in June has been a thing since 1998, when Bill Clinton was the first to sign off on the idea, and so we can look forward to a litany of events coordinated by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), whose members “represent the thousands of businesses that produce vehicles, equipment, gear, apparel and services for 144 million outdoor enthusiasts.”

National Go RVing Day, as well as National Get Outdoors Day, are both scheduled for June 11. But also on the calendar will be National Trails Day, the Great American Campout and National Marina Days, all promoted by various ORR members, including the aforementioned RVIA. And as a special bonus—as we wait with bated breath for the U.S. Supreme Court to hit us with its newest ideas about the unenumerated rights we’ll be allowed to enjoy—this year’s Great Outdoors Month “will also focus on the principles of Together Outdoors, working to grow diversity, equity, and inclusion in outdoor recreation.”

Maybe people should stay indoors…

Not to be an old sourpuss, but here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe we should be encouraging people to stay the hell indoors until they understand that “the great outdoors” is not a personal plaything. Or just a bigger, grander version of Disneyland.

One clue as to why that might be a good idea was provided a couple of days ago in Largo, Florida, where the body of a 47-year-old man minus one arm was fished out of a public lake adjacent to a disk golf course. Police speculated that he’d gone for a midnight swim in search of lost discs that he could resell to players on the course. Unfortunately, he did so during alligator mating season, which made an already dicey proposition even more hazardous.

Another clue was offered on Memorial Day in Yellowstone National Park, where a 25-year-old woman demonstrated how spatially challenged she was by getting within ten feet of a bison. Park rules stipulate that visitors should stay at least 25 yards—75 feet—from bison, which may look ponderous but can jump six feet vertically and run at 35 miles per hour. In this case, the bison gored the woman and tossed her ten feet into the air, inflicting a puncture wound and other injuries—but at least she’ll live to tell the tale.

These may be extreme instances, but they’re unsurprising and only the most tragic consequences of propelling an untutored and entitled public into a world they don’t understand and which just doesn’t care about them. It’s not only wildlife with which they have to contend: There are rockfalls and lightning strikes, sudden squalls and sunstroke, forest fires and flash floods, and scores of other environmental challenges that can challenge even smart, savvy, backcountry adventurers, never mind those whose ideas about the Great Outdoors are shaped by glitzy advertising for outdoor “stuff.”

How about a bag of freshly popped popcorn and a good movie on a big-screen TV? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot more sensible than telling the kids to go play in traffic?

Andy Zipser is the author of Renting Dirt, the story of his family’s experiences owning and operating a Virginia RV park, available at Amazon.com. He’s also just completed writing Turning Dirt, scheduled for release June 21, which provides a step-by-step primer for those determined to buy a campground despite his prior warnings. Early-bird discounts are available on his website for orders placed by June 20.   

Also by Andy in this issue:

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Steven Peterson
1 month ago

I have already added a couple comments below which some people will find less than tasteful, but I have been an outdoor type my whole life. First I was raised on a farm around animals and have a heathy respect for many, I have been a sportsman for 60 years and have camped for 30 yrs. The explosion of campers (and I use the term loosely) in recent years raises concerns. Leaving trash (some state have closed parks because of this) the use of 4 wheelers and UTV’s and the total lack of concern for others is a troubling issue. I see the day when you will have to apply for a permit to visit certain areas. I just saw where you now have to reserve a spot to visit one of the national parks out west. We as a nation have lost our feeling of community when it gets in my way – ME FIRST! Regarding the push for selling campers, maybe we need an RV license to drive a camper – Just drive down an interstate on a Friday. Speeding, campers too big for the tow vehicle. Enough grousing, be safe!

Steven Peterson
1 month ago

As terrible as both these incidents are – I subscribe to the concept of the Darwin Theory and the “Here’s your sign”. You can’t cure stupid, but mother nature can!

Gary W.
1 month ago

Pretty sure the woman gored by the bison died. Play stupid games, get stupid prizes.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary W.

Hi, Gary. I just Googled it for an update. All I can find are news stories from 3 days ago, and there are conflicting reports. Some reports state that the reports that she died are not correct. So I don’t know the status at the moment. If I see anything more recent, I’ll post it. Have a good evening. 🙂 –Diane

Steven Peterson
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary W.

She died – but come on man! Have you ever seen how big a bison / buffalo is. They are not tame or pets, yet people like her who don’t understand live among us!

Theresa Ornoff
1 month ago

We just left Utah. We were at boondocking spots, National Park campgrounds, hiked established and popular trails, and trails not traveled by the mainstream hiker. Over Memorial day weekend I might add. Good news! Almost everyone we encountered was well behaved and knowledgeable on trail etiquette. We didn’t see a speck of trash.

Steve H
1 month ago

Nowhere did I read that Andy was suggesting that experienced outdoorsmen and RVers should stay indoors eating popcorn. Instead, I read that many people, most of whom have likely never lived anywhere but a big city, think national parks are just zoos without fences or a public version of Disneyland put there for their personal enjoyment. I had an experience with that mentality 50 years ago, in the “Age of the Instamatic”. I was working in Yellowstone on a consulting project and drove into the park through the South Entrance. Just a few hundred yards past the gate, a car was stopped, with the engine running and driver’s door open. A woman with an Instamatic was walking up to a grazing bull moose with the camera up to her eye. She obviously wanted to fill that tiny-format viewfinder with the moose. She had utterly no consciousness of how close she was (maybe 15′) from that huge animal or the danger it posed. I didn’t stop to see what happened next. “You can’t fix stupid with duct tape”!

John
1 month ago

I found the article interesting but I heard too much, “I got mine (outdoor time) but I don’t want to share”. I wouldn’t begrudge people advocating getting outdoors regardless of how good they are at it.

James
1 month ago

I read Andy’s current “poor me” article in today’s newsletter then I went and and looked up his biography which I find on Smashwords. It also shows his picture which appears to come from the Woodstock era but I’m sure it is not because he is not vintage enough this I know because at my vintage I am from the that era. Reading his short bio, the many things he has tried to be successful at in the literary field but jumping from job to job and then to the ownership of a RV park which is a difficult business unless you are a people person and now bouncing back to the literary field. Andy just can’t seem to get past the half empty glass. It must be terrible to go through life living day by day in just another quiet day of desperation in paradise. I wish him well.

Ellen
1 month ago

Okay, I have to comment. That so many are responding negatively to Andy’s article surprises me. Haven’t any of you been frustrated when you see people doing stupid stuff outdoors, doing things that could not only endanger them but others?

Wildfires are more often caused by human activity than lightning, for example. People behaving recklessly outdoors can cause catastrophic damage.

Andy’s counterpoint to the message being promoted — that you can be outdoors without any thought to what you should and shouldn’t be doing out there — is a valuable one.

As much as we’d all like to believe RVing is always a happy experience, and RVers and campers are always kind and considerate, we’d need to face the truth squarely sometimes, and Andy makes a good point in this article.

KellyR
1 month ago

Andy, I’m not sure what other commenters read, but I enjoyed the article. It is a shame that many people were not brought up outdoors and have not learned to handle it. I think that declaring an “outdoors day” just so manufacturers and suppliers can sell more things is a somewhat deceiving idea to those who have no idea of outdoors. Buying ‘stuff” and then going outdoors does not make one ready to actually conquer the outdoors.

Diane Mc
1 month ago

Not the content I came for. Or the way I wanted to start my day. Not sure the point. People making stupid/bad choices isn’t new. How sad to look at the glass as half empty. Yes, these are challenging times. I can watch cable news if I want to hear depressing stuff. I come here for RV Travel info, which hopefully is more positive than negative.

Brian Burry
1 month ago

Andy is a The-Sky-Is-Falling person. Eliminate this dreaded writer from such a good publication!

captain gort
1 month ago

This website is clearly produced by people with a deep background in the “clickbait tabloid” arena. Almost all the articles are geared accordingly…catchy titles and hype designed to generate traffic and increase ad revenue.

Paul
1 month ago

Pretty confident this is the last of Andy’s articles I’ll read. I’ve come to expect a negative tone from this newsletter, but try to overlook it for the info. This one… Too much.

Doug
1 month ago

Andy’s article is just what we need to lighten up our day while being gut-punched with reality.
While I had the opportunity as a kid to participate in the Boy Scouts and instead of going to the movies on Saturday would go to the rifle range with my friends in pursuit of my NRA Sharpshooter level, I always looked forward to hanging out and camping with my buddies and learning new skills.
I agree with many in this comments section, that most people would be happier and safer at home, at a zoo or perhaps risk a water park, than outfitting themselves to explore the raw elements of nature.
Heck, even today at 70, with everything going on, I still feel safer and saner strapping on a 45L backpack and heading into a section of the John Muir trail with my wife for a 4-5 day trek, leaving the RV at home.
Consider yourselves some of the lucky ones and enjoy the great outdoors, whether you take everything with you or simply hit the trail this month.

Scott H.
1 month ago

After reading this, I’ll make a point to skip any of Andy’s writings. His viewpoint is not for me, I didn’t learn anything from the article, and don’t care for the negativity.

A ”bot” could’ve written something more informative and entertaining.

I’m headed back outdoors for the day…

Ed T
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott H.

Scott, I agree with you 100%. Andy’s opinion piece does not fit with the intent of this newsletter.

DW/ND
1 month ago

Is Andy a Robot? Writes like one which was programed to take every negative view it can muster concerning the outdoors. Sad to start my Saturday with this sort of nonsense reporting! (I have to go mow my grass – maybe I’ll chop my foot off – so I better just let it grow!)

Walker
1 month ago

I always enjoy reading Andy Zipser’s perspectives, which are influenced by his many years being an outdoor enthusiast and owning a campground. In his business serving RVers, I’m sure he’s dealt personally with more than his share of jerks, dimwits, flakes, and boors. Useful discussions should give air to all sides of an issue, and not merely the happy-talk, make-you-feel-good view. This article is useful as a counterpoint to the money-seeking commercial messaging for not only folks who are just considering getting into RVing or are newbies as a reality check, and also for those of us who’ve been at it for a while as a sanity check.

Ellen
1 month ago
Reply to  Walker

Exactly! Plus, it’s nice to see someone else venting about the same frustrations I have. Go Andy!

ddobs
1 month ago
Reply to  Walker

Kudos to Andy for gracing us with ALL his telling-it-like-it-is stuff…for some, like this ret.mechanic, the truth in his ‘scribbles’ ennobles, while other readers react with negativity & ad hominem attacks…kinda funny,the kettle calling the pot black,eh? Keep ‘er up, Andy! … Reality ain’t pretty, alas…Cheers

Rick
1 month ago

Yea! Stay the heck out of MY outdoors! Go to movie and trash that place, not MY favorite campsite!

MattD
1 month ago

The way I often see it, there’s a LOT of people that don’t DESERVE to be outdoors, even though they are. Like the ones who litter, who leave campgrounds a mess, who leave fires unattended and smoldering, who let their dogs run around off leash and the ones who won’t take the time to teach their children about courtesy and respect for others and the great outdoors.

Mark K
1 month ago

Wow, just wow! Stay at home watching your TV and eating popcorn, not me, I enjoy traveling around this great country of ours and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Yes, there are folks who aren’t very wise, but they are usually few and far between, and the vast majority of us are following the rules and getting to know each other and make new friends as we enjoy our travels. Not sure why this newsletter needs Mr. Zipper but my opinion would be better off without him.

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