As an educator of 15 years, I know what works and what doesn't in the classroom. I boldly speak the truth and always will.
I’d never camped in a camper before. I hadn’t camped much over my lifetime. If it weren’t for encouragement from friends and family, I’d never really know what I was missing. The campground is the exceptional level playing field for all to just have fun.
When my kids were very young, a bunch of our friends thought it would be fun to bring our families to a Jellystone campground that advertised “Fun for All.” As first responders, we received a discount. Even better! In a caravan, we arrived and slowly parked our portable abodes in place.
We maneuvered our camper in a tight spot. Immediately every dad in the vicinity came to help us back our borrowed rig into place. I was surprised at how friendly other families, clearly understanding our predicament, can be. As novices to the campground scene, we were never shorthanded, and so many people helped us out. Wheels chalked, plumbing hooked up and electricity working, we began to decorate our front yard with a rug, chairs, and a table. Then there were hungry kids and dinner to make.
Once settled in for the night, the relaxation sitting around a communal campfire with new and close friends began. Smores, flaming marshmallows, beers, laughs, and slow talks over sparks ensued. No makeup. No fancy clothes. No name brands. Just sweats and a stick in hand while a glob of melting, sugary goodness dripped. No pretentiousness. We were all tired and ready to relax.
Living Life in a Simpler and Smaller Way
Though conducting everyday routines like cooking, cleaning, and changing in much smaller square footage was challenging, many giggles and evictions out of the camper ensued. Add a dog or two, and you’re looking at much less living space and possibly the loss of your chair. Apparently, in campgrounds, the dogs can do no wrong and are entitled to as much relaxation as their human parents.
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Anywhere one looks, there are kids riding bikes, dog parents walking their furry children, and couples of all ages taking strolls. Glancing and waving are the norm. For introverts or more private people, it can feel like you relocated to an exhibit of “living art” in a museum. You can see others go about their day and they can see you! Expect this.
The Great Leveler
After parking, the camper needs to leveling so items don’t roll around, and you don’t end up falling out of bed! All campers need level footing. Some are decked out, and some are simple. You could be camping beside wealthy or poor, young or old, employed or retired. But in a campground, there’s very little “one-upping.” All campers know there are very humbling tasks that need addressing. We all have tiny yards, and we ALL have to drain our septics.
Your once organized “front yard” almost immediately becomes both tacky and trashy as socks, underwear, and bathing suits and used towels hang from any exposed rope, awning supports, or tree limbs. Again, something is humbling about hoses hanging out the rear end of your “house on wheels” and a trash bag hanging from your front door. The things you’d be appalled to have the neighbors see at home are quite reasonable to view in a campground, underwear in a tree, and all. There’s no judgment.
You Can Hear Your Neighbors Blow Their Noses
In the distinct atmosphere of a campground, sounds abound. Along with birds singing and cars driving by, you’ll hear conversations, children whining, one neighbor blowing his nose while another is talking about how her son got college scholarships. All ages and stages of life scattered on this little plot of land.
While you dine outside on a picnic table, all can watch as they walk or ride by. As you roast mallows, don’t be surprised if someone comments or offers suggestions on how to make your fire-pit function at maximum capacity and flamage. The golf cart security officers are great and full of information.
Your Neighbors are Close, VERY Close
Remember to close your blinds when dressing and sleeping. You could have an indirect peeping Tom because you’re just so darn close to others. There may be boundaries. Stick to them and try not to infringe on another’s property. When cars drive by, they drive slow as the usual campground speed limit is five mph. However, these leisurely cruises by your camper allow for some great people watching for both cruisers and dwellers. Watching others is normal. Just smile and wave when your eyes meet.
A Unique Sense of Community
Everyone seems to be camping just to get away and have some fun. You will likely become friends with your neighbors quickly. Kids become curious about other kids, and the next thing you know, they are biking together. If near water, campers trudge to and from community watering holes with towels, beach bags, and possibly excited or crying kids in tow. But most understand and have been there. Again, the encouraging smile from other campers goes a long way.
People chat beside fires. Kids play or fight - depending on the moment - and stories told. Occasionally you hear laughter, and it reminds you again that camping is a beautiful way to relax, reset, and reminisce. A snapshot of simplicity in a place set apart just for that. Simplicity.