Ten steps to being a
Totally Obnoxious Camper

Pete's note: What follows is a piece that has been going aroung the newsgroup circuit. I decided to give it a home here in the hope that it may strike home with those that it refers to. You know who you are. In over 100 nights out I have experienced all of these buffoons and a few others. Thankfully they comprise the minority so don't let this dissuade you from taking up camping.Enjoy!

While it's true that with each camping trip we learn something new, we've also found that we get the opportunity to relearn something old, such as what it is like to live next door to the Simpsons for a few days.

Instead of the ingredients for s'mores, this family has brought a small liquor store. They have a boom box and a large, untrained dog named something like "Thunder-turd." There is an axe and a whittling knife for each family member, all stuck into a tree for safekeeping. There are two layers of rip-stop nylon between you and them.

During the years, I have philosophically concluded that every such campground should have such a group, if for no other reason than to make everything else look good. And the truth is, being a truly obnoxious camper is a delicate art, relying on careful planning and orchestration. The rules are as follows:

  1. Make your entrance to the campground fashionably late, preferably after10:00 pm., when there is no available light and everyone else is asleep.
  2. Drive around the entire campground with your brights on so you can inspect each potential campsite fully, and so campers can make shadow inside puppets inside their tent if they want. Feel free to idle your engine at high RPM for long periods while you and your family carefully weigh the merits of each site, including those which are already taken.
  3. If you have a boat, camper, motor home or other vehicle that blocks your rear view, always back into your parking space. Again, take your time, preferably having someone in your party stand behind the vehicle, shouting directions at the driver. Keep at it until you get it exactly right, grinding your reverse gear, revving your engine and spinning your tires in the gravel as needed.
  4. If things take longer than you planned, which they probably will, swear a lot. This is, after all, the country. Do it loudly, leaning out your open window and with all the gusto you can muster. And don't forget the kids. It will ease the tension for everyone if you get them to cry.
  5. Pump and pump that lantern for all your worth (skip the directions, you can't see them anyway), then throw in a lit match and enjoy the majesty of your very own atomic blast. Keep the valve completely open, so your campsite will serve as a beacon for other campers who may be lost, dis-oriented or under the impression they were sleeping comfortably.
  6. Pack a tent that uses metal poles. Plastic poles just don't clang loudly enough when you throw the sack of them on the ground, trip over them and kick them out of the way.
  7. Be sure someone in your party is either: a) drunk and obnoxious; b) ill with bronchitis, emphysema or some other lung affliction that produces a loud hacking cough; c) tired and under the age of four, or d) all of the above.
  8. Hours later, when you have set up and fully decorated your campsite with hummingbird feeders, lawn chairs, Japanese lanterns and your newly made walking sticks, zip and unzip all the sleeping bags and tent vigorously four or five times each to ensure proper functioning for the night.
  9. Have a radio playing - a simple boom box or car radio will do. If the signal is weak, and there is a lot of crackle, you can always turn up the volume.

    And last but not least...

  10. Plan to have your entire party sleep late. There is always a family somewhere nearby with small children who rise and begin their day at the crack of dawn. They'd like to eat their granola bars and drop by to play trampoline on your tent. While their parents sip espresso and watch.

It's enough to make you consider Annual Travel Insurance !.

But don't leave now... There's more you can do, such as:
  • Go to sleep real late so you will have an excuse to sleep in while your kids go to neighboring sites to drool over other peoples breakfast.
  • Do your part to keep the forest tidy. Kick down and drag to your site any tree you can. Don't bother to cut it, just let it hang from the fireplace and feed it in as it burns.
  • Let your kids peel all the bark they can from the white birches. After all you paid for your site, you're entitled to do as you wish.
  • When you're breaking camp don't bother to get your tarp ropes down, Just hack them off at eye level. After all someone else might want to use them.
  • Don't bother to dispose of your bottle caps and cigarette butts. Folks are looking forward to living in your dirty ashtray, and the kids will love stepping on those bottle caps.
  • Get all the heavilly painted firewood you can. Old kitchen cabinets work great. Your neighbors will enjoy the lead, heavy metals and general crud all over their gear.
  • Travel light when you go to the shower. If the showers are metered you can always hit someone up for a quarter. Better yet try the sincere approach, ask folks to change a $20.
  • This goes beyond camping but what the heck. Don't forget the camcorder and make sure you get plenty of footage of things like trees and fences. Don't be bashfull about holding everyone up endlessly while you shoot your family documentary.
This probably isn't the end of the list but it is for now. Thank you to all the fellow campers with enough humor in their hearts to share their experiences. Pete
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