Our first workamping position was more fun than we expected. It was also a very educational experience. Working behind the guest services counter in a large camping resort opened our eyes to a new type of camper... the city camper. These are people who live in a large metropolitan city and want to have the "outdoor experience" and go camping, sometimes for the first time. But the "outdoor experience" wasn't necessarily what they expected it to be. These are real examples of some city campers that we assisted:

Where's the perfect campsite?

  • Prior to camping with us, a lady toured the campground and found her perfect campsite. When she arrived to camp a week later, she was assigned the exact site she had requested. But now she had changed her mind and wanted to "look around" again before checking-in. We provided her a list of the sites that were still available and was given a 30-minute pass to tour the grounds. 90 minutes later, security was looking for her since she hadn't returned. She finally came back and had found her new perfect campsite. We gladly assigned her this new site and off she happily went to setup her tent. Soon, she returned wanting to change sites again, as there wasn't enough shade at her site. Off she goes to look again for that perfect campsite. 4 hours after she had originally arrived at the campground, she again returned to the front desk. It was dark now, she was tired and hungry and complained she couldn't see the sites anymore and to just give her one. We did, and off she went to setup her tent in the dark. It wasn't long before we got a call on the radio from the ranger. She had decided to setup on a different site than the one she was assigned. Luckily, that site was still available to her. We don't know if this was her perfect campsite or not, but it was now time to close the office at 10:00pm.
  • Every guest has their own idea of the perfect campsite. We usually heard about these ideas when they didn't like their assigned site and wanted to be moved. Either there were too many trees, or not enough. Too much shade, or not enough. Not close enough to the activities, or too noisy because of the activities. Too many bushes, or not enough privacy. Even though this campground is in a thick forest, some guests didn't want any pine needles on their site.
  • For some tent campers, being located close to the restrooms and showers was an important criteria for their perfect campsite. One couple requested to be near the restrooms and was assigned a site within 100' of them. When they checked-out, they complained that the noise of the showers, toilets and bathroom doors kept them awake all night.
     

   The outdoor experience.

  • It seemed many people wanted to have the outdoor experience, without being outdoors. A majority of the complaints we heard were about the mosquitoes. Admittedly, the mosquitoes were heavy this summer. Beyond periodic spraying, there wasn't much more the campground could do. We had a camper complain that their daughter was allergic to mosquitoes. Yet they specifically wanted, and got a tent site along the river. When they complained about the mosquitoes at their site, they asked to be moved to another site.... still on the river.
  • A couple other times, we had the familiar complaint about excessive mosquitoes on a campsite. The guests asked to be moved to another site. The site directly next to them! I guess these little flying pests won't cross an imaginary line separating sites 760 and 761.
  • The second most common complaint was about the rain. The campground advertises "all weather camping" and has large signs stating no refunds due to weather. The guests even sign a statement acknowledging this at check-in. Yet, we always had people wanting a refund when it rained. When they leave, I understand how they feel - they didn't stay so why pay? But from the campground owner's view - we can't control the weather and the policy is explained in numerous places.
  • When it rained, the most surprising complaint was about water on the sites. Duh! When it rains, everything outdoors gets wet. With enough rain, water puddles start to appear. Not only did some city campers not comprehend this, they asked to be moved to another campsite when it rained. Perhaps since we worked in an office, we didn't see the rain avoiding specific campsites. We listed many tent sites as "dry" sites, meaning there's no water, electric, or sewer hookups at these sites. To city campers, a dry site must be a site where the rain doesn't fall.
  • Unfortunately, the rain also turns nice people into rude people. One guest was real nice when he checked-in. After spending two days with us, it rained pretty hard. This same guest was at the counter checking-out early and demanding a refund. Not just a refund for the unused days, but for his entire visit! He made a big and loud scene that his entire vacation was ruined.
  • When taking phone reservations, we'd try to discover what type of camp site to reserve for them and would ask "what type of camping equipment do you have?" To some city campers, this questions was confusing. They didn't have ANY camping equipment. Many expected the campground to provide, or rent, the tent and other camping gear. We'd suggest a rental trailer, but they wanted to tent camp. After trying to explain all of the suggested gear to get, we learned it was easier to tell them to go to a sporting goods store. The store would be happy to help them obtain all of the needed gear for tent camping.
  • One city camper was having the outdoor experience with his young son. After a couple days staying in a small log cabin, his son wanted a real outdoor experience. The son wanted to camp in a tent. So the father bought a small tent and some sleeping bags and reserved a tent site with us. But he was going to play it safe. Not only did he get the tent site for the night, he kept his rental cabin for the same night. We never did learn if they spent the night in the tent or the cabin.

Bending the rules.

  • Many guests try to bend the rules, and many times the campground would look the other way. Many other times, we made exceptions on a case by case basis. But there's always someone who will take advantage, or get caught in severe cases. We don't know if it was deliberate, or a misunderstanding, but there's one specific situation that stands out. A resort employee was leaving work and discovered their bicycle had been stolen from the bike rack. Security found it outside of a camper's rented cabin. In addition, another employee's bike was also found there. The guests admitted taking the bikes, stating "they thought they were there for guests to use". Why one of the bikes was wrecked and missing parts went unexplained. The guest ended up paying $200 cash to replace the trashed bike.
  • Luckily, it wasn't often that the park had to call the sheriff. However, one evening a teenager broke one of the arcade games. It was a deliberate smashing of a large plastic dome. They were pretty belligerent and wouldn't reveal their name or where they were staying. Once the sheriff was called, things cooled down. The teens parents ended up paying $500 for damages.
  • Unfortunately, many guests were asked to leave the resort by security for various reasons. One family ended up being ejected because of their son's behavior. The campground owner observed a young teenager jumping a 6' wooden fence. The owner asked the teen to walk around next time. Mouthing off and using profanity at the owner wasn't the smartest thing for the teenager to do.

Unbelievable, but true.

 

While many of the above experiences may seem strange, they are believable and are all true. If you've ever worked in a campground, you'll recognize the city camper. But one specific incident with a city camper sounds too strange to be true. After spending a night camping, a guest was checking out 2 days early and demanded a refund for the unused days. It's park policy not to provide refunds for early departure, but this guest strongly demanded the refund. As usual, we had a manager intervene and confirm the no refund policy. The guest persisted and warned the manager that she (the guest) had a weak heart and would have a heart attack if we didn't give her a refund. The guest finally departed, without a refund. The reason the guest was leaving the campground early and demanding a refund?  Because her cell phone didn't work in the campground. City campers!

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