Practice campground etiquette

By Dennis Bresnahan

I was camping for a few days with a friend last November at the Berryman Campground in the Mark Twain National Forest.  

Seven of the eight campsites were already full. The one empty one was right next to ours.

A car pulled up and parked in the empty campsite and two people got out of their car. They then put on backpacks and took off to hike the Berryman Trail.

Since they parked in a campsite and not the main parking lot by the picnic shelter where everyone parks to go hiking, we assumed that they were going to set up their tent when they got back.  

Many cars and trucks drove through the campground, some with campers, looking for an empty campsite during the several hours that they were gone.

When they returned from their hike, they got in their car and drove away.

Quite a few people were disappointed by their inconsideration but some lucky person did show up later and got the campsite.

Last year we were camping at Babler State Park when a large 15-passenger van pulled into the campsite next to ours.  

A crowd of children and adults got out and had a birthday party. They built a fire in the fire pit but never put up a tent and they left before sunset.

This time there were still other campsites available, but don’t people know that there are picnic areas for this? Someone else could have wanted to use this site to actually camp.

By now you have probably guessed that this article is about inconsiderate people who don’t think that the rules are for them.  

Almost every place I have ever camped at, whether it was a public or private campground, usually has a sign that says “campers only beyond this point.”

Although seeing people do this annoys me, these two examples did not affect me personally as I already had a campsite and it was the one that I wanted to camp in. Other times this was not the case.

Prairie State Park is in southwest Missouri and is unique in several ways. Buffalo and elk roam free in the park, which consists of original prairie that has never been plowed or cut.  

It has a picnic area and only four campsites, two of which are handicap only.

I got to this park on an out of season weekday in March where I thought I would be able to have my choice of the two non-handicap campsites. I had camped here a few times before and knew that one site was really good and the other not so much.

When we got there that afternoon there was a car parked in the campsite that I wanted, and no one around.  

There were no tents set up or any sign that someone was camping, but who knows what their plans were.

So we set up our tents on the less desirable site and after we were all set up, the people came back and got in their car and left.  

I wanted to say something to them like “can’t you read, this is for campers only” or “what do you think the parking lot is for” — but I didn’t.

I know it is not good to get into a confrontation with someone, especially if you are planning to leave your campsite at some time. I don’t want to come back and find everything destroyed, or worse.

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