Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Organized Camping

There is camping and then there is organized camping. Camping is heading out into the woods and finding a reasonably remote location to camp. Organized camping is akin to a mobile city where you are assigned a designated spot amongst hundreds or thousands of other campers.

First off, let’s get the levels established (they’re like golf, the lower your level, the more authentic you are to the spirit of camping):

Level 1 – Thru-hiker. These are the leave-no-trace people out hiking those trails that take several months to do (Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail…). They carry an average of 20 pounds on their back, hike 20-30 miles per day, NEVER have a camp fire, and camp for necessity wherever works that night. You’d never know they were there and you’d find no evidence they ever were.

Level 2 – Backpacker. These people carry more stuff but it still fits on their back. They may have a small campfire for warmth. Their tents are small. They may stay at a spot that has been used for camping before. They typically do more day hiking and go swimming if there is a lake. Other than the ashes from their campfire, you wouldn’t know they were ever there; they pack everything out.

Level 3 – Car camper. These people bring coolers, camp chairs, big camping stoves, an assortment of toys. They live at the outdoor stores like GI Joes and REI. They don’t necessarily seek out organized spots. You might find them at any nice spot in the forest. They play quiet games like paddle ball golf and go mountain biking or canoeing. They’ll make a fire for roasting marshmallows and singing songs. You might find remnants of them in the fire pit.

Level 4 – Organized camper. These people bring everything that can possibly be brought camping. Their campfires rival that of small forest fires. They’ll drink and be obnoxious all night long. They’ll trash every conceivable natural part of the park. The ground will be littered with bottles, cigs, vomit, wrappers, fireworks, you-name-it.

Level 5 – Trailer campers. You know, these are those RV camping parks that are like a plot of land in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of a town. It sounds like camping because they have a hundred billboards trying to convince you of that but it’s like buying a piece of land in a Texas suburb and then designating it an RV camping park and then charging for electricity, water, and sewer hookups. These people bring the largest trailer that they can afford to haul. The line behind them on the highways is about 150 pissed off cars. Their trailers expand out in all directions…sort of like uncutting a wrapped up Christmas tree (think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). They have mobile TVs, phones, video systems, showers, tanning booths, hot tubs, you name it…inside these things.

Level 6 – Anything more than level 5 is either: A trailer park (which is similar to level 5 except that it is permanent) or a motel/hotel (and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not camping).

I can’t stand organized camping. You might as well just pitch a tent right in the middle of Mall of America during Christmas season. That’s about as much privacy as you’re going to get.

It’s like a temporary city. The women hang out in the bathrooms and bring blow dryers, curlers, and make up! There is more seating via lawn chairs than you could probably seat at the super bowl. They have to truck wood in from Alaska just to supply the 60,000 campfires that everyone must have.

Guys are all getting drunk and hurting themselves on whatever motorized toy they brought with them. 4 wheel ATVs, chain saws, you-name-it, they brought it. Don’t forget all the family brawling too. I once watched in horror as the guy at the designated spot beside me got pissed off and shredded their tent with a hunting knife. Shredded. Thank God they took off. The tent was still in the dumpster in little pieces…

You know, I’m pretty sure there are endless angles and stories around this type of camping. Probably enough for a month of posts…

68 comments:

Jacki said...

LOL, I would have loved to see the guy shred his tent. Priceless!

However, I can honestly say that I am not any sort of camper. I'm the one you made fun of hanging out in the bathroom with my blow dryer and makeup.

I love hiking and other outdoor activities, but at the end of the day I need to be in nice accomodations. For me, staying at a Holiday Inn is roughing it. I am more of a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton kind of girl.

VE said...

jacki - Warning...high maintenance, high maintenance! ha ha ha.

Matt-Man said...

I like to camp, and that last picture is just disgusting. Not so much from the trash, but rather from the rude disregard for others that was the catalyst for leaving it there. Cheers VE!!

VE said...

matt-man - Amen, brother!

Kurt said...

We camped in Sawtooth in the summer, and all the campgrounds were full, so they had to put us in an overflow area which was...the woods! We were so glad we came when it was crowded, or we would have never gotten that spot.

VE said...

kurt - They let you camp in the actual woods? What a concept!!!

SarahM said...

"You might find remnants of them in the fire pit."

HAHAHA! haha! ha! haahahaha!!!

Memarie Lane said...

It drives me nuts when people say they're going camping and it turns out they're just parking their RV at a KOA. That is not camping!

VE said...

sarahm - You caught that?! I do that a fair bit...leave subtle things to see if anyone gets them. Last post I had the grid for Stupidity as $200 through $1000 in increments of $200 and then proceeded to have Bush ask for a square for $100! It's just so much fun...

marie - Here, here. I agree. If I had to go to a KOA I'd be DOA!!!!

Sornie said...

I'm not sure about my style of camping. When I used to go with friends every summer it consisted of an enclosed trailer with our coolers full of food and beer, our tents and our chairs. Sometimes the tents and chairs didn't make the trip home and our coolers were always empty. Nowadays I call camping leaving the window open at the hotel.

VE said...

sornie - You were an iffy level 3 (due to the trailer part) that has since moved to a level 6 (but in a good way).

Megan said...

I'm a level 3 with a drinking enhancement.

Our campground of choice is off the Pacific Crest Trail. Sometimes you will glimpse a thru-hiker but they don't ever stop to chat.

VE said...

megan - Yeah, I run into those Pacific Crest hikers too. I did chat with one though and they can communicate! It's just that they have to hike 2600+ miles before the weather turns so they have very little time for level 3 campers!

House of Suz said...

A quote I have dragged along with me since the late 1970's, heard in a Texas state park camping area:

"Get in the camper and SHUT UP!"

What fun! And that is why I don't camp.

VE said...

suz - And it's as pertinent now as it was then! ha ha

Anette said...

My family are so noisy and silly, and the growth of the potetial cabin fever is so fast, so that kind of camping is nothing for us.

Unless there are no other people around and the tent/trailer is swapped with a cabin of some sort or just the sky above our heads.

VE said...

anette - They ARE noisy. I could even here them from here! ;)

Sarah said...

hahaha Great explanations!
I am - Level 3 – Car camper. :)

Quickroute said...

I like the beers round the fire part of the camping and I'm afraid that's about it :-((

p.s. You've just been tagged over at mine!

Carla said...

Call me lazy, but I could never understand packing up a bunch of crap to drive a ways to take the crap out of the car, sleep on the wet ground for a few days surrounded by a bunch of goofballs you'd never hang out with under any other circumstances, pack the left over crap back into the car, drive back home, clean out the car and then complain because a good nights sleep wasn't to be found. But don't me wrong, I like camping, uh huh!

Michelle Ann said...

I prefer camping with valet and room service. After the age of 35...sleeping on the ground outside ceased being fun.

Serena Joy said...

I prefer Marriott camping, but if I HAD to actually camp outdoors (pardon my shuddering), I think I'd really, really hate that organized stuff. Ugh!:)

justacoolcat said...

I'm a level 8, that is, I like to order up some delivery and stay in the yard until the bugs come out.

Though, I'll often become a level 5 and rent a cabin on a lake.

Roy Scribner said...

LOL! That's a great list and oh, so true!

VE said...

sarah - Ah, level 3, good luck with that! Hoping I don't see you on that "I barely survived" show or whatever it is called.

quickroute - Ha ha. At least you've honed in on what matters! You've no idea what I do with tags, do you? Well I'll go look and you might be about to find out!

carla - Ha ha. Perfectly put. I'm not going to add anything...

michele - That's why bears don't live to be 35!

serena - That's right, that's even WORSE than camping. It's like jail but out-of-doors.

justacoolcat - Excellent. I was just waiting for the one to push the levels to a new level. For if one thing in all of mankind is certain then it is that no matter how you number a list, somebody will find something in between or just beyond that numbering. Enjoy that cabin!

VE said...

roy - Thanks. I see you featured camping today too. I tried to leave a comment but my browser locked up. Was it something I said?

sprinkle4 said...

My husband-the-Eagle-Scout-never-leave-a-trace-you-were-there guy is definitely a level 1 type.

Me? May as well just put my house up on a trailer and cross-country camp with it. Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors, except for the bugs and the heat and the dirt and all. Or maybe it's just pictures of the outdoors that I love.

Johnny Virgil said...

you forgot to mention the used condoms!!

VE said...

sprinkle4 - It's pretty good to put the house on the trailer and take it with you...until you have to go into the basement that is...

johnny - Sssssh! Don't tell anyone about THAT!!!

Roy Scribner said...

VE - your browser's gacking on Myrtha's site, or mine? Hers was down all last weekend. Mine's just giving me fits this afternoon - I've been yahoo'd, lol

VE said...

roy - Don't worry...I'll try again. You'll get on the blog roll too as soon as I update it (about every week)

leelee said...

I guess back in teh day I was sort of a level 2 level 3 camper.

Those days are long gone..now camping to me is anything OTHER than a Hampton Inn.

what can I say??

HUGS!

Bee said...

I don't get camping. I'm okay with my in-law style which is more the trailer park in the middle of a forest type.

Running water, bed, AC, satellite, microwave, fridge = ICE COLD BEER.

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

The only camp I like is watching the tranny J. Lo impersonators shake it and compete against each other for the most authentic J. Lo Bubble Butt prize.

lime said...

yikes, i have seen all this an more. i also will never forget going with a friend's family in high school to what used to be a very primitive campground and being recieved at a shiny new welcome center where the dad was asked if he wanted cable tv hookup at his site. i thought he'd burst a blood vessel at the mere mention of tv. we parked with our tents in between two huge RVs with AC and he cursed them both all week. it was kind of funny.

bitchlet said...

I was a girl guide in school so we went camping every year. My favourite part was my friends complaining about the tasteless food, well water and frogs in the bathroom.

Diesel said...

Where does having a bonfire in your backyard and then sleeping in a sleeping bag in the unfinished addition to your house fit?

angie said...

Am I to infer that you don't like organized camping? :)

Alex L said...

I'm about a level 9 camper, meaning I dont leave the couch at my actual house, infact I even move the fridge closer to me so I dont have to leave it.

Ben said...

I think I'm a level 2 but probably closer to level 3 - although driving to a nice spot and then backpacking from my car to the picnic table 30 yards away surely should count as level 2. It's a bit of a grey area in my mind!

Maureen said...

OMG that last photo is disgusting!

Too bad there aren't more man-eating bears to thin out the higher-level "camper" population.

I haven't camped in years, but there was no way we would camp anywhere where you could even SEE anyone else.

VE said...

leelee - What can you say? You..can say room service! ha ha

bee - No ice cold beer? That would be roughing it.

elastic - Ha! Very campy. I've been to San Francisco...I know what you speak of.

lime - Ha ha. That would be my kind of hell!

bitchlet - Frogs in the bathroom? You mean not everyone keeps frogs in their bathroom?

diesel - That is level 5.5. You have to crawl through the hole behind the filing cabinet to get there. It's reserved for those foolish do-it-yourself home remodeling people...

angie - You know where I'm referring to don't you? Fort Stevens would be one place. Detroit Lake would be another. Pretty much most of the beach camping here would qualify.

alex - But come on now...you have the entire outback to enjoy! Well, aside from all those poisonous snakes, spiders and those crocs...

ben - Excellent stretch of the definition...backpacking to the picnic table...

maureen - There it is. I don't want to see anyone else either. If I did, I would have just invited them over to the house for a sleepover instead of camping with them.

cathouse teri said...

I'm a Trailer Camper! Through and through! Will not have it any other way! ;)

VE said...

Teri - I think each trailer must have a personal bank representative now to ensure they can get through the gas station!

Jeff said...

These levels seem to be proportionate to a person's age. When I was young I was all about the level 1... now I can understand the lure of the motor home. Good thing I can't afford one.

colbymarshall said...

Once while tailgating, I saw a strange camper toilet, um, thing. It was so strange.

Jeff said...

Crap, I tried commenting on this hours ago but Blogger kept putting up an error msg about "Blogger is temporarily unavailable." It's done that twice this week now. What the hell is going on over there at Google?

Bottom line is I forgot my comment and it wasn't funny anyway.

VE said...

HEY EVERYONE. Blogger lost over 15 additional comments from this post. I've got them on email and will update the tally accordingly. They were:

Roy
Leelee
Bee
Elastic
Lime
Bitchlet
Diesel
Angie
Alex
Ben
Maureen
Teri
Colby

I have no idea what happened. I had replies to them all too. They exist in email but are gone on blogger. Weird!

padraig said...

You're missing a category. I'm not sure what to call it, but "Burning Man" camping... socially con-divergent artistic camping? It's not really any of these, it exists outside and is yet a part.

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