I’m a Dick. Well, until 6th grade I was a Richard. But my teacher that year went by “Dick” and it just rubbed off on me.
Now, “Dick” can mean a variety of things – most of them not so nice. For the purposes of this post, we will use the word to refer to those of us that don’t follow any sort of campground etiquette.
As an avid camper with four years of Camp Hosting under my belt, I’ve been asked to describe some of the Dicks that we’ve encountered.
Hold on to your hats. There are a dizzying variety.
We frequently work at Corps of Engineers campgrounds.
The Corps is actually part of the military, and all the land involved is Federal. So as you’d imagine, there are lots of rules. One of the most common is “no alcohol”. It’s often interpreted as “no alcohol that’s really obvious” and we don’t make a big deal about it.
But when you started drinking at 9AM, we’re going to have a problem.
This may involve loud yelling, throwing stuff, peeing on our bushes, breaking stuff, peeing on our fences, playing music quite loudly, and peeing on the tires of my golf cart.
I know what you’re thinking. And yes. That is a lot of pee…even coming from a Dick.
So eventually, we HAVE to notice – we roll up and quietly suggest you may want to mellow out. (As Hosts, we have no enforcement powers. We don’t want any, we don’t get paid enough to deal with Drunken Dicks.) But we’ll hint that if you don’t dial it back, you’ll get to meet a Ranger.
Most of our campgrounds are way, way out in the boonies. Hundreds of acres and lots of lake shore. So campers are far outnumbered by deer, hawks, foxes, bears, and spiders.
Most of our Rangers have degrees in Wildlife Management or Ecology-something, so they’re rooting for the animals. If you come up to me and complain there’s a bug in the shower, or a raccoon ate your cooler – we’ll probably express sympathy. (We don’t feel any, but we’ll express it.)
But should you harm one of those animals in any way, we have radios that will bring multiple uniformed agents of the Federal Government on the run. We also get upset if you dump your tanks, dig up our ferns, or spin big ugly tire tracks on our grass.
“Vermin” means something different here than at your condo in the city.
When I hear the rumble of a diesel, I sigh. Pretty soon, all the sun is blocked from the window outside my registration shack by a fourty-five foot long trailer.
All I can see is a set of huge wheels, and shiny lug nuts. Eventually, you appear at my window. Polyester shorts, black socks, sandals – sometimes with a big-haired wife and a yappy little dog. You shove a paper in my face and demand your reserved spot.
Get really pushy, and it will turn out that we’ve got a conflict, and I’ll shift your reservation to Site 22. It’s short, tilts to the left, and the power supply has been shorting out all year. Enjoy your visit to the great outdoors.
BOAT RAMP DICKS
Since we’re often on a huge lake, we are also usually responsible for several boat ramps. On a nice, sunny day – they will be jammed with eager fishermen and boaters.
Some of them pull over, get everything ready, and then back their boat right in. Others – well, they block all three lanes of the ramp while they get all their stuff into the boat. Then everyone including Grandma climbs in (adding about a thousand pounds of ballast).
The Boat Ramp Dick then backs up the boat, taking several tries to hit water. Then they stop, get out, and fool with their trailer straps and motor for a while. As tempers rise, they back the end of the boat so it just touches the water – and then can’t figure out why the boat won’t float off.
We sit in our cart and hope-hope-hope that they forgot to put the drain plug in.
Many of our campgrounds were laid out in the 1920’s, when a “trailer” was eight feet long.
So there often isn’t space at your site for your truck, your golf cart, your boat trailer, your two motorcycles and the cars of all your friends.
We have several lots dedicated to “overflow”, but you’d have to walk a bit. When we come around a corner and it looks like a used vehicle auction, we’ll gently remind you of the “two vehicle” limit.
You’ll whine, you’ll moan, but you’ll move your cars or we call those guys in the uniforms with the citation books. (We can’t cite you, we don’t want to. But it’s not like getting a KOA owner mad at you. The Feds never forget.)
And you’ll be on our list for next time.
We have huge dumpsters – many of them – in central locations at the park. Plus trash cans, wastebaskets, and recycle bins.
But we have guests who strew beer cans, dirty diapers, cigarette butts and stuff so icky we use four foot long tongs to fetch the item. Some parks let us charge your credit card a fee for cleaning up, some just have a Ranger call you next week and put a note in your file.
If you grew up in a barn, I pity the animals.
If you were raised by wolves, they should have run faster in the winter.
If you fill the fire ring up with garbage – well, those bears can learn license plates and they can run a long, long way.