There are some stories I wish I weren’t compelled to write, and this is one of them. Why? Because this information is useful, but not born of positive experiences. Instead, I write to alert you to the need to use caution.
WHAT IS GOING ON: First, The Camp Fire, and now the pandemic has brought many people into the camping environment who were not raised in the traditional camping culture. Also, knowing the campgrounds have been full due to unique circumstances, people with the intent to do harm or who are careless about respect to others and nature are taking advantage of the situation.
CONTEXT: I was raised camping every summer and the rules were basic:
- Don’t walk through someone else’s campsite.
- Under no circumstances would you steal from another campsite: we left everything out when we went fishing for hours.
- As children we were encouraged to have fun as part of the family unit, and also during individual time – which was encouraged. Respect for fellow campers was drilled into us: screaming and hollering were not allowed, and not necessary for having fun.
- Nighttime is sacred: the only acceptable sounds were the hum of lanterns, the crackle of an appropriate-sized campfire, and the laughter of families playing cards or some other game or telling stories. Things got quiet at 10:00 and we were quiet when we got up in the morning.
- When it was time to go home, we left a clean and safe campsite: no garbage in the fire pit, no smoldering fire, and no trace of us left behind.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED: The current camping environment is one in which I encourage you to use caution and stay alert. I am hearing stories about trucks that roll through campgrounds at night stealing every loose cooler. I am reading about bikes and kayaks being stolen, even if they were locked up. Even tents are being stolen while people are out exploring.
Generators, batteries, and propane tanks that aren’t locked are being stolen.
Additional caution is necessary in the public bath houses and restrooms. Also, if someone tells you they work at the campground and they are stopping by your campsite too often, you should verify their employment and let the manager know what is going on.
Boondocking on public lands has become problematic with many leaving garbage and human waste. Still others are painting graffiti and doing other damage to our wild spaces.
ON THE WATER TOO: Crime is also escalating for house boat campers who can typically leave their “toys” tied to the deck of their boats without worry. But more and more people are reporting break-ins and theft on Oroville Lake, as well as fuel being syphoned from vehicles in the parking lot. So take your toys inside and draw the shades, and don’t fuel up right before you go to the lake.
My intention is not to discourage you from camping; however, if you go, please raise your awareness about security. The pandemic has many people camping for the first time, and I want you to know these disturbing circumstances are not typical of the camping culture I was raised in. In fact, I’m saddened by what I’m hearing and reading because much of what is happening is the exact opposite of what the camping experience should be. I’m appalled that people are having to ask other campers not to walk through their campsite and are treated rudely for making the request. I’m in disbelief that people leave their garbage at campsites. I am angered by all the theft. We shouldn’t have to ask someone to stop blasting their music at a campsite.
One action I’ve seen on the different camping groups is telling the group where you are planning to camp and asking if any of them have been there recently and to please share their experience. And if you have a bad experience at a specific location, let others know. If you have a fantastic experience at a specific location, let others know. Let’s look out for each other!
I sincerely hope your next camping experience is 100% positive, and that you represent all of us with integrity and respect. Camping is one of the most fun ways in the world to create family memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Here’s to your safe and fun travels!
Article written by: Catherine Goggia
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