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Campers Who Arrive After Dark

Well, well, I seem to have gotten quite good at this. I actually like walking through the campground early in the morning and busting people. It is usually campers who arrived after dark the previous evening. I nailed three of the little bastards this morning. Busting stealth campers gives me the greatest pleasure.

There is an element of grim humor to it. A movie metaphor always comes to mind, from "Apocalypse Now." Remember Robert Duvall's "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

It is so important not to be a marshmallow and not to be a rule-nazi (or a Barney Fife.) Yes, the agency wants their camping fee. But busting one camper doesn't bring in that much money if it is only one night's fee. 

It is accomplishing something subtle to win over the camper by hitting just the right balance of firmness, friendliness, and explanations of the realities of a campground. Long term, that is worth a lot more money.

In a lot of ways, a campground host is like a school teacher: constantly dealing with kiddies who don't like to do what they are supposed to do. The teacher has to learn not to get upset about it, and adopt a professional attitude that steadily pushes the kids in the right direction, so that progress is made long term. In the short term, kiddies will be far from perfect. Especially late night arrivals.


Ed said…
Perhaps you have found your 'place' in the scheme of things.

When you claim that it is important to not be a Barney Fife I assume you are speaking of his taking a minor infraction and blowing it out of proportion. You then go on to say that the campground host is like a teacher. Or like Barney who was zealous about law enforcement, regularly spouting off penal codes and ordinances to thugs and jaywalkers alike.
Ted said…
What fun! The late arrival/early departure freeloaders are only surpassed by the Day Use scofflaws. Locals think of it as *their* park, so it should be free. Right? And motorcyclists are the most likely to skip the Iron Ranger on the way in, especially the big, loud ones.
DeeBev said…
When I was a campground host in UT, I found 12 people in one site during my morning check. Then there was the polygamist family who set up a canning station on the beach of the reservoir. Everyone had a fishing pole including the 2-year old so they could have their limit. I chased a speeder on an ATV through the campground with my golf cart that would only backfire when you pressed on the gas! Those were the days. Go to UT for an unforgettable experience.
Anonymous said…
Your faithful readers will be happy to have you leave camp hosting, get out in the boonies and start writing some really curmudgeonly posts.

Thanks for sharing those stories, DeeBev. I wonder if being a campground host changed your politics? That is, did you come out of it a believer in mildly repressive authoritarian regimes?
I like that word 'scofflaw.' I'll add that to my quiver.

Of course, day use IS free in my suzerainty.
Yes, it is important to a host's sanity not to get worked up over the things that would have gotten Barney Fife excited. Besides, real law enforcement officers are stretched pretty thin, and can't be bothered every time somebody spits on the sidewalk.
I was afraid I had been getting a little soft, so it was time to really blast somebody.
Anonymous said…
Went camping at coast/county park and paid for 2 nights. Filled out envelope and deposited in iron ranger. Went to play golf and left doormat, trash can and firewood plus tag on post. Came back 4 hours later and someone had moved my doormat and set up 26 foot trailer with every jack/wheel chock tongue leveling device known to mankind. My buddy laughed (he was camped next to me) and we started fire in my old fir ring. I moved my RV to his spot and soon the host shows up and says "1 rv per space". I say he took my spot and then she says well you marked your ticket on the box with 2 (days I paid for) instead of dates (which the iron ranger tag had). I said did you look on your list of who paid as the campground takes internet reserves also . She said I don't have that info and the other camper said I left nothing to mark my space. My fault but there were 15 other spots within 25-150 ft. So they(squatter) came back as we drank beer and talked till 10 with no apology. I said he could stay and I moved 15 ft to the next spot. We were leaving in the morning and talked to the real ranger and he agreed with me that the host should have at least looked at site instead of taking his word that there was nothing marking the spot. I learned a lesson use my reading glasses and leave more stuff. [emoticon] posted elsewhere. Glad some host do their duties Thank you