A word to our campground hosts

We've spent time in dozens of campgrounds in a number of states over the years and have found something special in nearly every one. I'm not planning to write about my ideal campground here, that would be a mistake, the uniqueness of each operation is part of the joy of camping. What I do want to express are some general points. These are applicable to most campgrounds be they private or publicly operated.
Let's start with washrooms, if your operation is rustic and these are not offered that's fine, but if you're going to do it lets do it right.
  • Porta-potties, pit toilets and the like. These are fine, especially to serve remote sites. The key point is that they are still part of your facility. We expect them to be cleaned as often as any other restroom. It is unacceptable to suggest that the outside contractor services it regularly. Your guests are in and out of these facilities on a constant basis and they need to be attended to.
  • Flush toilets, we're not asking much, just that they be tidy, they need not be the latest model but the original color should be recognizable. Clean, and stocked with paper is really all we ask. A door for privacy is a nice touch as is some sort of natural ventilation. Also take a chance and keep toilet plungers in the buildings. We are at home with you and can save you some aggravation if you trust us.
  • Showers and vestibules. My wife and I have compared notes on this, it's on our list of things to scope out when we explore a campground. I have yet to see a perfect score yet it seems so simple. When people are traveling they tend to be carrying belongings to the with them, clothes, towels, toiletries etc. I'm amazed how hard some places make it to juggle this stuff without getting it all soaked. It gets even worse in colder off season weather when the clothes get heavier and being wet is even less desirable. With no further adieu let me describe my dream shower stall!
    • A floor that drains
    • Plastic or rubber drain through mats in the shower and dressing area Asking your guests to be barefoot on any sort of (wet) carpet is unacceptable.
    • A seat or stool
    • A shelf big enough for a duffel bag
    • Several coat hooks
    • Don't make the door too tall this can be an ideal place to drape clothes and towels.
    • A steady supply of hot water. If you must charge a quarter for five minutes do so.
    • Enough stalls to avoid waits at all but peak times.
    • Clean and disinfect daily
    That's all I ask. Many places have come close but I have yet to see anyplace hit the whole list.
  • Wash Basins, again remember were are carrying our stuff, shelves, coat hooks and counter space help a lot.
  • While you have that building there with utilities a dish washing sink with enough counter space to dry and pack is a nice touch on the outside of the building. Some sort of rain shelter overhead completes this perfect picture.
Let me restate my premise, you need not offer all of these amenities to have a wonderful operation, but if you're going to offer something, do it right.
Now lets' talk about security. Camping is a communal activity in a way. People are living on sites that are sometimes close together. Everyone has different tastes and we all have to respect that. The biggest thing we count on you to insure is the chance for a good nights sleep. Some of us may have a long day on the road the next day and rest is a paramount safety concern. Quiet hour should be just that. A single check is rarely adequate, people return from off of the property, from other sites or just feel like being night owls. In this communal living arrangement where sound carries so easy quiet hour must be enforced. Making it possible to rest in peace is one thing we are counting on as your paying guests.
This last matter concerns sites and is written from the perspective of one who tents. A tent site should be suitable for tents.

There should be a significant area that is above grade, where no rain water will run to. A good tent will handle rain but there is a limit to how long it can remain in standing or running water. How can you rent a low lying spot to tenters and not expect there to be some ditch digging done? The ground should be smooth in the tenting location(s) and free from major roots and rocks. We'll police the spot and touch it up but we didn't come to excavate. That stuff stresses our tents and makes sleeping comfortably difficult. It's surprising how often it is difficult to find space to set two small tents on a campsite where we can rest comfortably without setting ourselves up for a disaster. I've had hosts proudly show me sites where the dug out tent areas and then back filled with screened material to insure clear space. Oh, and if you can keep some distance between the fireplace and the tent space we'd appreciate it.

Finally we come to transient and seasonal campers. We almost always prefer to be in an area with travelers like ourselves. We get to compare notes on destination and share a kinship on the road. It's also easier for the kids to make new friends when everyone isn't already in a clique. Seasonals are nice enough people, don't get me wrong but they tend to have settled routines and relations with their neighbors. They tend to be retirees and rarely seem overjoyed to see a family pull in next door and begin unpacking. If you can maintain some segregation I think it's a better experience for all concerned.

Well that's about all that I had on my mind. I haven't been to a place that I'd call a perfect 10 and probably never will. Then again if you want my opinion run with it.

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