Monday, April 1, 2013

Camping Weather is Back!!

Judy and I have been very busy at the park.  Coupled with nice weather (finally) and a holiday weekend activity has been high. High activity always presents opportunities for great interactions with campers and unfortunately some that you would just rather not have. If you have experienced working with the public I am sure you know what I mean. I must acknowledge the less than fun encounters usually are limited to one camper or their guest and the great experiences is from the other 99.9% of the visitors to the park.

This weekend one half of the 51 sites were rented and both pavilions were in use. One pavilion had over 300 guest and the other one had 75 guest. Our "day use" usage included nearly one hundred people  using our facilities for pic nics, fishing or just simply enjoying the park. Out of all these people one camper and his guest did manage to try my patience.

I knew this person was going to be "Trouble" as soon as he registered. He was part of a group that had rented five sites. As he was registering he ask about bringing a golf cart (gas powered) into the park. Judy explained only guest with a handicap were permitted to use golf carts and then only to go to the comfort station. He clearly did not like the explanation.  As she was explaining he kept making comments about another camper that is permitted to use a cart. I told Judy there is a problem in the making. Near closing time two young boys were dropped off outside the office. They told Judy someone was going to come up and pick them up. The office is a half mile from the camping area. We were busy doing our closing routine when I caught a glimpse of a golf cart whiz by the office window. By the time I could get out to the parking lot the kids had been picked up. A gas powered golf cart is capable of high speeds unlike electric powered ones. I like to nip things in the bud so I was going to go down to the site but Judy having more faith than me said they probably wouldn't do it again and to just let it slide. I am sure you know where this is going.

 Another bone of contention was the fact that we (the park) require guest visiting a camper pay a $3.00 day use (parking fee) that is good until closing and if they are going to stay the night a $3.00 fee is charged for the next day, which is good until closing time that day. Basically put there is a $3.00 fee per car per day. Keep in mind we give the registered guest two free vehicle passes. The camper also expressed displeasure with this also. The additional cars are required to park in an area near the comfort station so the park roads will not be congested with parked cars.

Saturday at 1130 AM as I was making a routine patrol I see the golf cart parked on the shoulder of the main park road, well outside the camping area. I pulled up and saw two individuals about 75 yards in the wooded area and I called them. It was two teenagers. I ask if they were driving the cart and they said yes. I told them they would have to walk back to their site and I called Judy and ask her to get in touch with the guest and have him meet me. He showed up about ten minutes later and I reminded him of the conversation that Judy had with him about the golf cart and then told him to put the cart on its trailer. To his credit he simply said yes sir.

Comfort Station - Not

Throughout the day he had at least 20 cars with one or two guest come into the park. They were going to have a cook-out at his site. Of course the pavilion would have been a much better venue. Judy and I explained the parking rules to each guest as they came in. Some of them did question Judy charging them a fee as they did not have to pay it last year. Judy thought that was odd. I had one person come through and ask if he had to pay the fee since he was only dropping something off. I told him if we would be out of the park within twenty minutes I would not charge him. He assured me he was going just drop the stuff off and be gone. I bet you have already figured where this is going, my blog readers are so smart! I didn't think any more about it. Two hours later as I make my rounds I see a SUV parked improperly on the road side. I noticed there was no pass in it. A man comes walking up saying,"I going to move it right now".  I said, "do you remember telling me you were just going to drop something off", he said yes. I told him to go to the office and purchase a pass and them park up by the comfort station or if he didn't want to pay to just leave. I also noticed another truck parked wrong and also informed the driver it would have to be moved. She told me she was leaving.  I made another round an hour later and found that he had moved the SUV but he did not get a pass.  I made the decision to discuss this with the camper the next morning who is responsible for their guest. At 9:35 Judy said, "here comes a car that is flying". I looked up and sure enough it is a white SUV going about 55 MPH out the gate. I said to Judy, "I guess he decided not to pay the fee"! I left to make my finale round before I locked the gate at 10:00 PM to remind guest it is about closing time. As I passed my trouble area there was the truck still parked where I had told her to move from. I stood by the truck window and a disheveled looking man rolls the window down and I tell him to move the truck. In a snippy reply he said we are. I reintegrated for it to be moved NOW not later. I called Judy and had her call the registered camper and tell him that truck had to be moved now. It was moved out five minutes later. By now I am not a Happy Camper" in regards to the registered camper.

The camper came up to the office the next morning for an unrelated matter so I thought it would be a good time to remind him that guest to his site are his responsibility. I reviewed the infractions and let him know I did not appreciate being lied to or the excessive speed of the SUV driver. It was at this time he informed me that he was not responsible for his guest, they were grown men. I then said if you aren't going to be responsible for your guest I would not be letting the SUV person back into the park.

I know this seems like the blog that never ends! Later in the afternoon Judy contacted me on the walkie talkie to let me know the SUV was at the gate wanting to pay for yesterday and to get a pass for Sunday to go visit his friends campsite. I walked over and informed him he would not be coming into the park today. The man was very apologetic and polite and I did not enjoy doing what I did. The reality is that behavior has consequences. I did explain my rational for my decision. He lied to me, he did not pay as I had instructed him and he left the park like a bat out of hell. I did tell him he could come back to the park, just not today. I also told him that the registered camper made it clear that he was not going to assist me with his guest so I had to take action on my own.

No it is still not over yet.  The registered camper came up to the office thirty minutes later. After informing me that I am the worst camp host he has ever met in the ten years he has been coming here and he thought I was too hard, after all his friend had apologized. I acknowledge his friends apology and then reminded him that he told me he was not going to be responsible for his guest and that is part of the reason your guest is not coming in today. I did inform him that the only problems in the entire park was from him or his guest. He then said that I had ruined his and his friends entire camping trip. I think that struck a nerve with Judy. She said the campers name and said were we wrong about the golf cart violations, were we wrong when your guest lied to Jim, didn't come up and pay after he was told to, and left the park at a high rate of speed, were we wrong when your other guest did not move their truck and was belligerent to Jim. He agreed that all of that had occurred. He then got to what was really bothering him, the parking fees! He did not understand why we were having him pay for the two extra cars (kids) everyday or making his guest pay. He said the other host did not require them to pay (which I do not believe is the case). We informed him we charged what is required and Judy pointed it out to him in the pamphlet we give to each camper. He said he had never read it. He did say he did not agree with it though. To illustrate that even with the charges our prices are much less than a state park (GA SP = $28 for site, $5.00 per car every day , we give 2 free passes!) He left, not happy but at least informed knowing Judy and I are not making things up as we go.

I am not going to end this on a negative note though. Out of the approx 600 visitors and campers who visited the park only one site caused problems. We absolutely have great campers here. One such camper is Dana and her husband  and family who stayed with us on their way to PC Beach, FL. I really enjoyed meeting them and hearing that they may be fulltime RVers after their professional life.

Already got the tag!

That is all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Next Blog: Wed


  1. Yeah,sometimes its hard and sometimes we don't like it,but we have to follow the rules. I enjoy reading your blog. I hope we can meet again in the near future.

  2. That's the way to do it. Give one person the freedom and it's going to get out of hand fast.

    See ya soon! (We'll be good, I promise)

  3. We'll try not to cause as many problems for you when we get there. See you soon! Jim

  4. Oh, we for sure know the problems that you can encounter working with the public. There are always the ones who think they can get away with not obeying the rules.

    1. I am glad it is such a small percentage of the visitors. Judy and I liked our time at Manatee Springs SP because we did not have to deal with problems, we just called the rangers and they took care of it. I am sure you are going to like your time in FL.

  5. I wish they would enforce the rules down here. I'm sure the other more responsible guests appreciated your efforts. Good job.

  6. One thing I've learning after 30 years in law enforcement is that often you can judge the attitude of a person by the way they park their car.