Campers Respect Our Parks, Other Campers & Control Your Children

by Larry Matthews

(Editor’s Note:  We welcome what amounts to Letters to the Editor type information.  We feel good opinions become good advice that may become policy, referring to our Kerr Lake park interest.  Feel free to write.  Larry Matthews is an avid, life-long camper at Kerr Lake, mostly at Hibernia.  Matthews is also a charter member of Kerr Lake Park Watch.)

While camping last week I did see that some of the issues mentioned in the posting KLPW Issues Improvements List for NC Kerr Lake Recreation Areas” had been addressed.  It’s great to see that our voices are being heard by Park management, so let’s keep the comments (positive & constructively negative) coming!

With that said, I have to be fair to the Parks by calling out some of my fellow campers.  I’ve been camping for 35+ years and know that the vast majority of us campers are considerate and thoughtful people who treat the parks as if they were our own property…in a way they are ours.  But, there is a small group of people who are inconsiderate of fellow campers, seemingly feel the parks are theirs to destroy and/or allow children to run rampant.  As tax payers and park users, we should consider the parks to be “our property” (just like our tents, RVs or boats), take care of them, and call out/report anyone who is not respecting the property and/or facilities.

Here’s my list of issues, which I personally saw last week, that campers should take ownership of:
1. Manage your children (Unsupervised kids do what kids do, mine did until I caught them.)
    a. throwing full rolls of toilet paper in the toilets
    b. wet toilet paper wads stuck to walls and ceiling
    c. tearing toilet paper holders from the walls
    d. carving names/phrases in picnic tables (you wouldn’t carve on your own table)
2. Throwing trash from cars/RVs in the park
3. Cigarettes (sorry smokers, I’m not picking on you)
    a. please don’t throw butts out the car/RV window in the park
    b. please don’t litter the campsite with butts (pick up your butts, the park employees and/or next campers should not have to pick your butts up)
    c. please don’t smoke in the bath houses
4. Make sure the toilet flushes…come on, the newer bath house toilets have so much force they can flush a VW and seldom will they not get rid of what you put in them.  So, turn around and make sure the flush was successful.
5. Don’t chop into a healthy tree with your hatchet for no reason
6. Manage your dogs. (Does your dog bark endlessly when you go out on the boat?)
7. Rules say no alcohol…if you must, put it in a cup or koozie and don’t make the ranger a bad guy by putting him in the position to have to make you poor it out.
8. Most people camp to be in the dark…turn off all the bright outside lights at bed time. (Those homemade PVC lamp posts with your name on them are so neat, but not when I go to bed and they make the inside of my camper look like I’m parked in the Walmart parking lot.)
9. We want rangers to be friendly.  Let’s show them how.  Invite a ranger to your campfire. (Example: We have 2 fairly new rangers at Hibernia who need to be shown that we campers are good people who don’t just litter their parks, destroy their bathhouses and/or complain about them all the time to “Raleigh”.  Stop them as they drive by and introduce yourself.  Let’s show them how to be friendly by being and example.)
9. When was the last time you thanked a park employee for doing a good job?  How would you like to clean up behind some of our fellow campers?

Please folks, don’t think that I feel I’m the perfect camper.  I catch myself sometimes doing things I should not be doing in the campground too.  I hope this provoked us all to think about how we treat our parks, park employees and fellow campers.  Like most of you reading this, Kerr Lake has been a big part of my family’s life. Let’s all work to maintain the parks and maintain a positive camping experience for everyone.

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