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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 13:28:10 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 14:36:14 GMT, "NameWithheld"
<> wrote:

>I'm keeping my name anonymous to avoid speculation on which California
>campground this refers to on the lottery-sized chance that someone would
>recognize me.
>I'm thinking of converting my private campground to a G rated facility.
>Posted rules (including signed agreement) to include the following:
>No smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing in front of women or minors, and No
>Disorderly Conduct/Disturbing the Peace.
>Enforcable?  Probably not, but at least the tone would be set prior to
>admission to the campground.

I don't smoke or drink and I try not to cuss much, except maybe when
something ends up on my toes that shouldn't be there.  That said, I'd
swing wide to avoid your campground.

Why?  First off, I don't want a petty big brother looking over my
shoulder.  Second, what I do inside my RV is my business alone and
none of yours.  Third, within broad bounds, >I< get to decide what is
"disorderly conduct" and not you.

Equally important to the above items is that you're embracing with
open arms the fascist notion of punishing everyone for the sins of a
few.  If you have a problem camper - and I'd have to define "problem"
very tightly so that most folks doing what most folks do are left
alone - then deal with him and leave the rest of us alone.

You want to control the loud drunks and not the couple enjoying a meal
and wine by candle light under the awning.  Or for that matter, the
quiet drunk quietly getting sloshed inside his trailer.  You want to
deal with the camper making grossly excessive noise and not someone
listing to soft music outside his camper.

The problem with this kind of approach is that it usually means you're
allowing a few sourpusses to spoil the fun for everyone else.

BTW, I didn't see your proposing to ban two of the absolutely most
annoying things campers do - letting dogs yap and letting diesels idle
for hours.

>You get the idea.
>I want to run a clean campground.
>I believe there's a market for a clean camping environment.

Not this style of "clean".  Now if "clean" means spotless showers,
then yes, there's a market.

>How would you feel about a campground that didn't allow campfires, but
>provided a nightly central group campfire?

I don't go camping to be crammed together in the company of strangers.
I go to enjoy nice quiet times either alone or in the company of
friends.  I'm not a "joiner" and that's the type you're implying
appealing to.

I typically build a fire and sit around enjoying it.  When it burns to
coals, I flip over the cooking grate (or supply my own if necessary)
and cook supper.  Then I build up the fire again and enjoy it until I
get sleepy.  Obviously I can't do any of that in this group setting.

Let me propose something unique and pretty much the opposite of your
idea.  Not only have individual campfires but supply the wood as part
of the fee.  Wood's not that expensive - about $100 a cord around here
for hickory, $75 for mixed - so that could be a very low cost
attraction.  Of course, you'd have to "issue" the wood to keep the
pigs from loading up a whole pile but that's doable.  I WOULD go out
of my way to stay at a CG that did that.  I love a fire and hate to
have to haul my wood with me.  Or get ripped by those $1-a-stick
bundles that so many CGs peddle.

FWIW, I give firewood to anyone who asks, enough for a night's fire.
My restaurant is near the Ocoee Nat Forest recreational areas and I
get a lot of campers.  I get a LOT of repeat business because of this
little treat.

>This is a sincere informal query.  I would very much appreciate this groups
>feedback.  Thanks.

There are campgrounds where everyone is laid back, the attitude is
informal and the rules, if any, occupy a paragraph or so.  Everyone is
relaxed and has a good time.  Then there are campgrounds that have
about as much appeal as a Gulag.  The list of rules takes pages.  The
people in the office look like they've had corn cobs crammed up their
tails.  Dry.  There is an uptight atmosphere that permeates the place.
This describes pretty much every KOA that I've had the misfortune to
stop at.  I can usually detect the atmosphere before even entering the
office.  I hightail it out of there.

This sounds like the kind of place you propose to create whether you
mean to or not.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 18:50:15 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 18:00:38 GMT, "NameWithheld"
<> wrote:

>John, you've written an essay!  Apparently I struck a nerve.  Or writing
>comes easily to you.  Or both.

Mostly I like to write.  I'm very much an anti-authoritarian so I tend
to get my hackles up when the rulemakers get carried away.

>Thank you for the many ideas you shared.  I
>like your firewood suggestion.  I'm sure I could do that and cover it with a
>truly nominal increase in the fee.  The KOA environment is a zoo!  I stay
>there when I don't have a choice.  I appreciate the McDonald's approach to
>campgrounds, but ....  What I really want to do is dissuade the hey let's
>get a keg and go camping population from wanting to come to my campground.
>By the way, law enforcement are among the worst offenders.

Yes, I agree about the cops.  They regularly make asses out of
themselves when 'camping' up in the national forest.  One party a
couple of years ago was bad enough to have the state highway patrol
called in, followed by the national media.  This behavior is
understandable when you stop and analyze the kind of person policing

>I don't know how
>I'm going to accomplish this without shutting down to everyone except the
>religious groups.  I do want my customers to know that they don't have to
>worry about who they're camping next to when they decide to come to my

I guess I don't understand what the problem is.  It's your campground
and your property.  You can accept or reject guests as you please, as
long as your reason isn't one of those silly civil rights things.

You have to actively police the place.  That's just part of owning and
operating a public accommodation.  Same situation here in my
restaurant.  I deal with the troublemakers instead of trying to burden
everyone with tons of rules.  If someone is acting up, out they go in
no uncertain terms.  I've actually had other patrons applaud my
escorting a troublemaker out the door.

When someone makes trouble, if it's severe, I order them to leave and
inform them that they're trespassing, something I have to do according
to Tennessee law.  If he gives me lip, I have him arrested for
trespassing.  I go the extra mile and prosecute such cases.  The word
is apparently out among the street bums and the drunks because I've
not had a problem in a year or two.

The key is, I think, taking strong action up front.  One warning max
and then out they go.  No warnings for under the influence.  If you
let 'em push you, particularly drunks, they get brave and want to put
up a fight.  Be tough right up front and 99% of the time they
cooperate.  For that other 1%, there is the sheriff and the pepper
spray and handgun until the sheriff gets there.

I'm like most folks, I go out in my RV to get away from it and to
enjoy peace and quiet.  At the same time, I understand that I can't
have the solitude of a mountaintop in my 20 ft wide slot so I have to
be tolerant.  But there are some things that most everyone hates.
Drunks, rowdy kids, yapping dogs, idling engines and so on.  I think
this kind of environment is what you're trying to achieve but I think
you're going about it in the wrong way.

As far as smoking goes, ban it in all the common areas including
outdoor common areas.  But forget about trying to control what someone
does in his leasehold until it becomes grossly obnoxious to others.

One of the things you could do that would make your place very
appealing to me would be to have a policy of inviting the chronic
complainers to find another place to camp.  You know the type.  They
find fault with everything and seem to take personal offense at anyone
having a bit of fun.  One or two of those types in a CG can throw a
pall over the whole place.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 13:32:24 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 21 Jul 2005 08:04:54 -0700, "Charles Kerekes"
<> wrote:

>Even now, I feel that campground rules are overly restrictive. For a
>simple example, look at the dog walking rules. Most campgrounds have
>written rules that you can only walk your dog in a designated area. Any
>dog owner can tell you that those areas are totally inadequate to
>"walk" or "exercise" a dog. Now, I realize the campgrounds
>don't usually mind you walking your dog anywhere as long as you clean
>up after them, so I assume the rule is there for their own protection
>in case they have to use it. But, even simple rules like that place
>extra stress on guests who earnestly want to play by the rules and have
>no choice but break them.

There are two problems with this idea.  First, according to my
observations, many (most?) dog owners are complete *ssholes who think
the world revolves around them.  Barking?  Put up with it.  Crap on
the walkway?  Dog's just bein' a dog.  Second, unless there is a full
time "bathroom monitor" on duty, it's impossible to determine ahead of
time who the *ssholes are.  Only after they've walked away and left
Rover's big gift to the world can you identify the *sshole and only if
there is someone watching.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 13:51:04 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 15:47:15 GMT, "NameWithheld"
<> wrote:

>I figure the honor roll and a quarter jar for swearing penalties; the
>proceeds go to charity, not to me.
>I think the drinking rule would sort of come under the if I don't see it and
>you don't smell, look, and act like a drunk, then what you did in your own
>home, on my premises, won't play a role.

Now your sounding like the government.  "let's pass laws that everyone
violates, with no intention of enforcing them just so we can use them
as weapons against those we don't like."  The lawbooks are full of
those kinds of laws.

>If you're obviously under the
>influence, then you're out.

Let's look at this a little.  If the goal is to protect other campers
from disorder, then this is too much.  I suspect that the underlying
theme is a bit of the bible thumping Baptist "devil drink" philosophy
peeking through.  Suppose a guest sits at his campsite and quietly
gets sloshed but doesn't say anything to anyone?  I know a couple of
people who do that.  Their idea of a good time is getting plastered
and then going to bed.  A person like that hasn't offended anyone
other than the meddlers who can't keep their noses out of others'
business.  That person's money spends as well as that from us

>The swearing rule, this is america and I can say what I want; more an effort
>to keep the kids next door from having to listen to you say F this and F
>that all night.  Hey, if you drop the hitch on your foot, you're only human.
>I'm looking for a way to provide a very family friendly (family is a
>multi-inclusive word to me) environment.

A couple of thoughts.  You're trying to protect the weak who won't
make any attempt at protecting themselves.  I'll certainly tell
someone to cool it if he gets too profane.  No need to snitch or

Second, the word "family" makes me think of vast herds of wild,
undisciplined kids running all over the place.  I can take a drunk -
even a fairly loud drunk - any day over a bunch of yelling kids.  The
yelling kids are usually accompanied by even louder parents who think
that discipline involves yelling louder than the kids.

Here's another  unique idea.  Attract both "families" and the rest of
us who like a nice quiet experience.  Divide your CG into two parts,
one for yelling kids and one for adults.  You'll have to figure out
how to get around the federal interference but it's doable, as I see
adult CGs fairly often.

Give the camper a choice at checkin.  Absolutely and strictly ban kids
from the adult side. Let the kids do anything they like on their side,
including running, yelling, riding minibikes and bicycles and so on.
Both factions can be happy that way.

>I think the reality would be that I couldn't enforce the rules, but my
>advertising, marketing, and aesthetics would lead by example.  And having
>you sign an agreement prior to reserving a spot for you would give you the
>choice and give us common ground and understanding if I had to talk to you
>about your wife's 4 letter words, ...

Your advertising would be hypocritical if you don't intent to enforce
the rules.  Fact is, you don't need all these rules.  You simply state
the obvious - that you reserve the right to eject anyone for cause -
and let the registration signature be the customer's acceptance
acknowledgement.  You may not have to do even that, depending on your

I don't have any posted rules in my place and I handle disruptive
people without any problems.  I'll remove 'em with force if necessary,
although it never has been.  That can of Bear Spray (super strong
pepper spray) on my belt probably has something to do with it :-)

Kids are NOT allowed to run wild.  They stay at their parents' table
or they all leave.  I'll serve a drunk but he has to remain quiet.
Are you a street bum that stinks like a sewer?  Out you go.  I figure
that the majority of my customers are paying to enjoy good food in a
pleasant atmosphere and I will NOT allow a minority to spoil that.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 14:18:10 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 19:42:18 -0700, Wes Stewart <n7ws_@*>

>On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 16:42:20 -0400, Frank Tabor
><> wrote:
>> Which BTW, is a law in Virginia.  You can
>>be fined for having an open container of beer sitting on your front
>You gotta be shittin' me.  Whoops can I say that in this thread?

Unfortunately, no, he's not shittin' you.  Those kinds of laws are
unfortunately still quite common in the South.

>And I thought our right wing, Mesa Mormon (pardon the redundancy)
>dominated legislature was nutty.  (Easy now, you right wingers, I'm a
>life-long Republican and one of my best buddies is Mormon.)

You can wrap 'em all up - and the redneck politicians in this area -
in the blanket of statist authoritarians.  They've generally screwed
up their own lives so they try again with others.

Around here such absurd laws are on the books not to solve any problem
but instead to give the cops something else to use against someone
they don't like.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: No Smoking, No Drinking, No Swearing Family Campground
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 14:29:47 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 23:39:03 GMT, "NameWithheld"
<> wrote:

>Again, much to be considered in what you say.  From the replies I've
>received, I've pretty well decided to either make the expected behavior's
>clear to all in a very public and very friendly way, which is what I will
>try first and see how it goes. Or to scale down and practice target-specific
>marketing; not my first choice as it would eliminate many rv folks who are
>not problematic in any way.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this idea.

I meant to ask before, just what is the problem you're trying to
solve?  Are you having problems with misbehavior?  Just not making the
money you need to?

You're approaching the whole thing negatively.  There is only a very
tiny subset of the population that LIKES restrictions.  In my
experience, they are also the worst customers, being impossible to
please and complaining all the time.

Why not take a positive approach?  What can you do to attract people
who would ordinarily not come to your place?  What physical resources
do you have?

Can you put in a fishing lake?  One of my favorite campgrounds
(Cross-eyed Cricket near Oak Ridge) has a heavily stocked fish pond.
Customers pay by the pound of fish caught.  Campers get a great
discount.  There is a little restaurant on site that will cook your
catch for you if you like.

How about a shooting range?  I'd certainly go out of my way to visit a
CG where I could target shoot.  Not enough room for a full sized range
or noise restrictions?  Set up a pellet gun and/or archery range.
Rent serious target guns and not carny trash.

How about a Kart track?  If noise is a problem, several companies make
electric karts.

What attractions are nearby?  How about coop advertising and
promotions?  Mutual discount coupons, that kind of stuff.

If you want to attract people with kids, how about a daycare type
service?  "Hire" workcampers to supervise the kids in a play
environment while the parents rest, play with each other or.... :-)

I'm sure there are a lot more things possible with a little thought.
I just don't think there are enough people who put one single thing
above everything else that you can target just one type.


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