The World Needs More Campers

Message From The Director

Summer is in full swing: hot temperatures, afternoon and evening thunderstorms, beautiful sunrises and camping! I recently rode through the campgrounds at Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach and there was not a vacant campsite to be found.  A great sight to see during the dog days of summer! While it has been a record year for camping, I am convinced the world needs more campers.  Stay with me, as this comment is not about occupancy rates or empty sites, it’s about campers.  Not the ones you are used to seeing in a state park campground with a fifth wheel or slide outs, not pop ups or motor homes, not even a tent.  The campers I’m talking about are the people who pack for the week or weekend, leave the hustle and bustle behind and enjoy their parks and being with other campers.

Maybe it’s these extra hot days of summer or the fact the nightly news seems to be filled with controversy, hostility, and real problems but I’m thinking the world needs to go camping.  Here’s why: camping brings out the best in people. I was recently walking through the campground at Devils Fork, no one knew who I was, I was just another camper on a morning walk.  I was greeted with a “good morning” many times on my walk. Thinking about it, I realized this greeting was different than what I was used to in the real world. It went beyond a polite exchange of greetings and nothing further. Here, it was followed by more. “Where are you from,” and discussions about the rain and the beauty of Lake Jocassee.

Over the years I have observed this is the norm in a campground- casual introductions turn into conversationsand even friendships.  If you are camper you know what I am talking about.  A camper never worries that they forgot something, as another camper will always step up with whatever was left back home. Need a hand? You don’t even have to ask, as campers are, by their very nature, always willing to lend you a hand.  If you’ve camped you’ve experienced this and if you haven’t camped, you don’t know what you’re missing. The type of camper doesn’t matter, whether it’s a 5th wheel with two slide outs or a pop up, a motor home with a car in tow or a two person tent, campers are not defined by the units they camp in- campers are people. People who care and who enjoy the outdoors, fellowship and people.  They have this uncanny ability to see the good in people, to want to help if you are in need. I’m not sure what it is, but campgrounds are places of sanctuary from a world often filled with controversy, misunderstanding and real problems.  Maybe it’s the parks, those places we can escape from the pressures and reality of a fast paced world. Parks that protect you with their tall trees, creeks, rivers and lakes. Maybe it’s a campfire and the darkness that seem to soothe the soul with time for reflection and conversation.  A conversation around a campfire leads to laughter and smiles and often ends with a satisfying “good night, see you in the morning.” *Tip: avoid conversations about politics in an election year!*

Maybe we all need these special places to escape to every now and then just to get away, recharge our batteries, and reconnect with nature and each other.  Our parks really do become a sanctuary and allow us to escape from the day to day, allow us to put our guard down, relax and enjoy life.  It doesn’t hurt when you fall asleep to the chorus of crickets and tree frogs and wake to a Carolina sun peeking through the tall pines and stately oaks of the Palmetto State. Could it be distinctive smells of a campground, lingering smoke that can only come from a campfire, the smell of coffee and bacon cooking? Could it be these things influence our behavior and enable us to relax and revive those characteristics of kindness, friendliness and a sense of community?   Or maybe, just maybe it’s the people who camp. Yes indeed, the world needs more campers, let’s go camping! 

See you in the parks!