Last week I camped by myself for the first time with the kids and boy, do I have a lot to say about that. But before I can get to the solo camping experience I feel I need to provide you with some baseline camping knowledge. As I see it, there are 6 main types of campers. Just to reiterate, this is my personal opinion...but I think you will see if you ever go camping, that these types are pretty universal.
1. The Slackers. Their distinguishing characteristics are 2 or more of the following: a mullet (on the husband, wife, or children, sometimes all), the mohawk (typically on the young male), children with dirty faces, and/or they wear pjs all day (again, this may be true of the husband, wife, children, or all). Typically there is at least one small child under 5 that is tough as a crip who is wreaking havoc on the entire campground while riding at a high rate of speed on his bike. These children often can be heard spewing profane language through their messed up teeth. It is clear orthodontist yet. You can usually hear Dad yelling things like "What the hell you done boy?!" or "Next time I will whoop your ass!" Their campsite is noticeable by the amount of "stuff" laying about....bikes, toys, bins of stuff, food, sheds, you name it. They really take to heart the idea of "living outside". My guess is that if you were to come across their house, it would look the same as their campsite with stuff everywhere. You would wonder "Are they having a yard sale?" but no, that's just how they live. Final note: There are typically 5 children under the age of 6 with the "oldest" being responsible for all kids while the parents sit around in their wife beaters and pjs. If the campground has a high population of Slackers, I know I am in trouble.
2. The Sweats. I call them this because they must sweat all day. Their distinquishing characteristics: they sit around a fire all day long, regardless of the 90 degree heat, wearing jeans and some sort of animal t-shirt or sweatshirt. By "animal" I mean either a wolf howling at the moon, a big buck deer looking innocent just before he gets hit between the eyes, or a Mickey Mouse logo. You typically see unisex teenagers, let's call them "Pat", that are so pale you wonder when the last time was that they saw the sun. There is usually an older man (father, grandfather, creepy uncle) who is so big it is obvious he ate a family member. They tend to disappear around dinner time because they are in search of the nearest "all you can eat buffet". These are the people who try to eat the "96-er" at the restaurant so they can get the whole meal free. For those John Candy fans think "The Great Outdoors". There is always a small population of these peeps at every campground.
3. Serious Campers. These can either be tenters or pop up peeps. They have camping down to a science and have very few possessions. Their ultimate nightmare would be to get a spot next to a Slacker. If their tent were to catch on fire, they could easily pack all their belongings in their REI backpack with room to spare. They typically wear a lot of LL Bean clothing, wear thick socks and hiking shoes even in the summer, and are thin as rails because they are either hiking or biking all day. Women who fall into this category generally don't shave very much and the guys typically have scraggly beards. You will see several serious campers at each campground.
4. The Helpful Regulars. They may be seasonal folks (see the next category for an explanation on that) but typically are folks that camp alot and have a few favorite spots that they go to throughout the year. They can be identified by two or more of the following: They have a tv outside, a kick ass grill, fancy lounge chairs, and/or any tool you could need or want. When you are banging a stake into the ground with a chain, they will run over with a mallet heavy enough to do some brain damage. They typically have bionic hearing and will pipe into any private conversation concerning attractions in the area, local directions, or campsite info. They will also provide unsoliciated information on every camper in the vicinity. You often walk away wondering what they will say about you.
5. The Seasonal Folks. These are people that have found a campground they enjoy and want to spend every weekend in the summer enjoying it. They typically have big rigs or double wides with two or more of the following: a built in screened porch/wrap around deck, a shed, landscaping that includes trolls and bridges, and/or a sign indicating their last name and their home base. Typically their home base is less than 2 hours away. They call their camper their "summer home", they take part in all of the campground events, often have their grown children or grandschildren visit, and today, take up about 80% of campgrounds.
6. The Rest of Us. I want to pause and say that just because I fall into this category in a self professed way, I don't want it to sound like I think I am better than any other group. Now that I am done with the Politically Correct Statement I will go on to describe the Rest of Us. We are typically families who enjoy the outdoors, are adventerous, like to travel, like to vacation at a reasonable expense (because that typically means you can travel more often), and enjoy "small town America" and all that it has to offer. We aren't the people who had the first Wii on the block, have an iphone, or are constantly logging on to our computer (hence the reason you haven't seen many posts from me lately). We want our children to stop relying on electronics and start using their creativity more like we did as a child. We can go two days without showering but also look great in a matter of minutes. I admit, I am at the extreme of this group. I am a preppy camper and quite honestly, I look for my kind every time I camp and I still haven't found anyone like me. I pop my collar, I wear pink, green, and seersucker, I wear pearls and skirts every day, I always have lip gloss on, and I bring 3 cute pairs of flip flops on every trip. I can also set up camp in 30 minutes...wearing all of this. For those preppy campers out there...and I know there are some...come forward!
I'm sure that the Slackers look at the Rest of Us as freaks or the Seasonal Folks shake their heads at the Helful Regulars. I haven't quite figured out the hierarchy of it all but somehow in the end, everyone co-exists peacefully while also providing entertainment (and/or annoyance) to each other. As I rate campgrounds going forward I will use these categories as a guide for how much we enjoyed the campground. You can decide which type of peep you feel most comfortable with which will help you in your selection of the right campground for you and your family.
Of course feel free to add any other type of campground peep that you have run into...would love to hear your thoughts!