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Gary Hage

Cut off time for late check ins?

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I am curious if any of you who have worked at government (county, state, or federal) campgrounds and/or private or commercially owned ones have dealt with the following:

John Q. Public has a standing reservation on one of your campground's sites, but is not going to arrive before closing time at the park office. Instead, its going to be late, very late! When they finally arrive, it is midnight. Quiet hours in the campground began at 10:00pm, and most all of the other guest have already turned in for the night. All is quiet until the late arrivals show up to begin setting up their three tents, plus blow up 3-4 air mattresses with a noisy electric air pump, etc. The children slept most of the way up, so now they are full of energy and not the least bit interested in being quiet and laying down. Even though you have stressed the importance of the need for them to be very quiet while they quickly setup camp and turn in, the noise created as the gear is unloaded, tents are set up and mattresses are filled, etc. carries to the surrounding sites, waking the other guest from a very sound sleep! Next morning you are greeted at the office by more than one disgruntled guest asking, "Why in the world did you allow people to check in so late and cause so much noise?" When you did everything you could to avoid such complaints being lodged, with the exception of telling John Q. Public that if they do not arrive at the campground before a certain time, they cannot enter the campground until the office opens in the morning (after quiet hours has ended for the day). Depending upon the campground's rules, you may or may not even have that option. We currently don't!

Let me note here that prior to our assignment at this state run campground, we never did the state park system(s) while staying at a campground/RV resort. We instead frequented the Native American owned RV resorts adjacent to their casinos and the likes, none of which allowed tent camping at their locations. Yes, there were late check ins arriving throughout the night, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, but as we experienced at those locations, the majority of the RVs didn't seem quite as noisy to setup or take as long as most of the tenters do. Now I'm in no way picking on tent campers, just presenting you with an observation based upon our own experience.

So, my question is: Have you when working at a campground (or camping at) dealt with and/or seen similar practices of allowing arrivals during all hours of the night, or did the owners of the campground have a cut-off time for allowing even a reservation holder from entering after quiet hours had begun? Do you think there should be a cut-off time to avoid such a disturbance of the campground's other guest?

 

Edited by Gary Hage

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There was no cut off time at the government parks we have worked at.  We did however always go to the site, shine our headlights so they could see to set up and offered whatever assistance we could.   We were lucky in that those guests were always trying to be quiet also.  No kids.  The only parks I have seen with restrictions were private owned parks.  For those I have seen "no one will be parked after dark".  Or it will be a campground where it states that the gate will be locked at a certain time.  Late arriving guests are many times given the code to get in though.  

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Gary Hage said:

So, my question is: Have you when working at a campground (or camping at) dealt with and/or seen similar practices of allowing arrivals during all hours of the night, or did the owners of the campground have a cut-off time for allowing even a reservation holder from entering after quiet hours had begun? Do you think there should be a cut-off time to avoid such a disturbance of the campground's other guest?

 

We have been campground hosts in both state and federal parks and some do have a gate that is closed when the attendant goes off duty. The Corps of Engineers is one prime example as they close and lock the gate at 10 pm. That same thing is true for at least some TX parks and it was also at the one KS state park that we were hosts at. At Joshua Tree NP we hosted at a campground that had no gate that closed and did have an occasional noisy camper arrival to generate some complaints, but I can't recall any that went to the extent that you describe. At Salt Creek Park (Callalam County park) in WA, there was also a gate which was closed, I think at 9 pm. All that I can say about this is that when we deal with the public in any capacity, there will be at least an occasional inconsiderate jerk to cause problems, but we choose to forget those instances and remember the many nice folks that we have met over the years. There were far more of the nice folks than of the jerks, so deal the best way that you can with the jerks and then forget them. 

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The national/state parks we volunteered didn't have a cut-off time but I can't recall receiving a complaint about excessive noise.  I think most campers are considerate.  Many weekenders make plans to leave after work or a few hours earlier. For weekends they don't typically drive more than 4-5 hours to their site so that would put them in the campground around 10-11pm. 

You've had an unfortunate situation.  Is this a common thing?  If so, perhaps you can talk to the manager on ideas to help correct this.  Good luck!

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10 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

The national/state parks we volunteered didn't have a cut-off time but I can't recall receiving a complaint about excessive noise.  I think most campers are considerate.  Many weekenders make plans to leave after work or a few hours earlier. For weekends they don't typically drive more than 4-5 hours to their site so that would put them in the campground around 10-11pm. 

You've had an unfortunate situation.  Is this a common thing?  If so, perhaps you can talk to the manager on ideas to help correct this.  Good luck!

2gypsies pretty much hits the nail on the head in what I believe most of my tent camping clientele consist of, that being the weekenders that drive 4-5 hours to the campground after leaving work at 5:00pm on the same day. I notice that the majority of our RVers in motorhomes and 5ers tend to like getting in and setup before dark. Where as our pull behind (travel trailer) clientele seems to be split fairly close in how many arrive early and how many arrive after hours.

Sharing a little history about our campground: The modern version of the trail-head and campground we manage was built with 16-campsites in 2003. Two of which belong to the Host and are full hookup sites. Our 14-rental sites only have 30-50amp electric and water at the campsite. No sewer is provided, but we do have our 2-island sewer dump station located inside the campground for the convenience of our guest. When originally designed and built, I'm told that our campground was not built to accommodate tent campers and that they were not added to our list of the type of guest allowed to camp here until just a few years ago. So because of the original design concept of the sites within the campground, we do not have a separate area for tent campers. Imagine sitting in the favorite chair of you Prevost motorhome and looking out over the roof of the tent on your neighbor's site. Oh, and did I fail to mention that the same tent is only about 5-6 feet from the side of your motorhome. You can hear every word your neighbor(s) speak in a normal tone at night as the sound escapees through the thin cloth walls of their tent.

Yes, that is a common occurrence at our campground because of where the tents have to setup within their sites. Verses the RVs which are required to park on the gravel pull-thru driveway, and not on the grass. The grassy yard area on the door side of each RV's site creates not only a nice yard for the guest to sit out in, but also a bit of a buffer between the RVs. Setting up the the tents in the yard thus eliminates that buffer between the guest IMOP. So the only true fix to our problem would be if we had a totally separate and primitive area for our tenting guest so that late arrivals would not be as disruptive to the RV guest located in the other section, like we've seen in many privately owned campgrounds that also allow tenters. But with that come cost, so we are trying to make the best of what we have to work with by leading the guest directly to their sites no matter the time of day or night. By standing by for a short period of time to monitor the noise level, etc. as they begin setting up camp. Finally, reminding them to keep the noise level way down after you leave them for the remainder of the night.

Edited by Gary Hage

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At Mountaindale in Colorado Springs, where I have worked for the past 7 years, we don't allow checkins after 8pm.  The office will start calling arrivals around 6pm to find out there eta and remind them of the 8pm rule. And we stopped tent camping 2 years ago. too many problems.

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A easy solution is to require the tents to be set up on the gravel parking space if there's not a designated tent space.  Letting them set up on the nice grass is going to ruin that grass for the next RV that uses that site.  If tenting on the gravel base is noted on the website or brochure there shouldn't be any surprises. Tenters usually bring their own floor pads anyway and protective plastic to be put under their tents. The drainage in case of rains would be better on gravel, also.  Even national parks have designated tent spaces which are on gravel.  If the tenters don't like the new 'rule' they might start going elsewhere and letting the sites revert back to RV sites as they were planned in the beginning.

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Tenters are not the only late arrivals that don't care about others. While hosting at Matagorda had a late arrival next to us that I know slammed his door at least a 1000 times while setting up. I believe people who care go to bed and set up in the morning. Had people with a pop top in Grand Prairie Canada came in late made all kinds of racket and let their kids go to the playground. Now tents are more work for a host in the National Forest because they will use your facilities more than rv people but I know they pay for the use (maybe). Young people who tent seem to think they shouldn't have to pay. But we keep going back for more fun working with the traveling public.

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While I agree that rude people usually don't care about others, there are some instances where arriving late could have been caused by, say, a breakdown.  If it were me, I'd tiptoe into my space and apologize to my neighbors in the AM.

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2017 at 9:02 AM, Gary Hage said:

... Imagine sitting in the favorite chair of you Prevost motorhome and looking out over the roof of the tent on your neighbor's site. Oh, and did I fail to mention that the same tent is only about 5-6 feet from the side of your motorhome. You can hear every word your neighbor(s) speak in a normal tone at night as the sound escapees through the thin cloth walls of their tent....

Oh the horror of it all, a Prevost owner being forced to associate with the unwashed tent people. I have been late into campgrounds several times after being delayed by wrecks or construction and I try to be as quiet as possible but then again we don't have kids (other than the dogs).

Not all RV'ers can afford a nice fiver or motor home and they have just as much fun and have the same views that everyone else does looking out of the tent flap. I think a little more tolerance with those people taking their kids along would be nice. We are all ambassadors to the RV world and the last thing I want to do is create a bad experience for the kids even if they get on my nerves.

You can have the campground owner or staff politely explain the next morning about setting up a camp quietly after hours. Most will get the hint, the rest, well I have learned to ignore them.

Edited by GeorgiaHybrid

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On 5/1/2017 at 5:10 PM, Gary Hage said:

Do you think there should be a cut-off time to avoid such a disturbance of the campground's other guest?

Yes.  8 p.m., IMO.  Later than that and other campers are at risk of being disturbed while the late arrival is setting up.  

An acquaintance never hits the road as early as he claims he will.  He is a totally disorganized person and has been all his adult life.  I stopped interacting with him on every level.  Just got fed up by his lack of planning having a negative impact on me.  

Edited by remoandiris

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One of the things I have enjoyed about this assignment is the diversity in our guest. We are definitely not a "Class A RV Resort" like more and more privately owned resorts have chosen to call themselves, nor are we a 55/plus adult RV Resort like others. We instead are a simple state campground who welcome all who wish to come and camp at our property. Everything from tents to Prevost motorhomes, with horse trailers that have living quarters in the front section mixed amongst them and their horses tied or corralled just outside in their campsite. So we have a real mixture of people. That diversity can be fun to watch as those from different backgrounds and levels of camping experience and levels of camping begin to interact with one another. My equestrians (horse) people are wonderful about taking it upon themselves to invite the other guest and their children into their site to introduce them to the horses and help make them feel more comfortable with the idea of camping next to a campsite with live horses on it. Yes, not all of our guest start out thrilled with the idea that they are going to have to be camped next to a site that has horses in it. Especially when the horse(s) are vocal during the day and begin calling out the the other horses at the far end of the campground which can be interesting. It is great when we see our RVers interacting with our tenters and visa-versa. I think we are very fortunate with how our guest are able to blend together and have an enjoyable stay at our campground.

The last thing we as Host would want to do is have to be telling a family that's maybe on their first ever camping experience that they cannot come and check into their campsite tonight because they are going to be arriving too late and will disturb the other guest. Tent campers or non tenters alike. So we shall continue to attempt to keep the late arrivals as quiet as possible and hope to minimize the noise complaints from the other guest. 99% of the time, that is the only complaint I (we) end up receiving about these guest during their stay. So if you can make the complainer understand that is an occasional risk that we run at our campground with both tent campers and RVers checking in late and being a little noisy while they set up and that it is a courtesy offered to all of our guest when they are delayed in route, etc.then it should become a non issue for most who choose to camp here. Then if I can eventually expand to two sections, one for RVs and the other for tents, I believe that too will help.

The reason the tents do not set up on the shell rock in their site is that all of our sites are pull thru sites (and very HDT friendly) with the drive only being a single lane wide. The tent would block the path of the vehicle(s) and cause them to have to drive onto the grassy yard area of the campsite and destroy our grass. So that is why that rule was put into place before I took over.

Edited by Gary Hage

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We are a couple who are in their 70's and travel in their RV 6-9 months of the year.  We park extensively in public campgrounds.  I can count on one or sometimes two hands the number of times we stay in "RV Parks" in a year.  While we are not thrilled with the noise the weekenders who come to camp, we do enjoy the fact that people are getting out of the house and enjoying the out doors.  Especially those who bring their youngsters.  The sound of youngsters playing and running around and making the general noise youngsters make is music to our ears.  (As long as the parents get them to bed around dark or the 9pm time frame). 

Yes there are times late arrivals disturb our sleep.  However those very few times don't make us want to move into a so called RV Resort where all you see is the RV parked next to you or across the street. 

It is also always enjoyable watching the campground empty out on Sunday afternoon and we get a generally quiet park for most of the week. 

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17 hours ago, Gary Hage said:

Yes, not all of our guest start out thrilled with the idea that they are going to have to be camped next to a site that has horses in it.

I am surprised that your equestrian sites are not off by themselves. I've stayed at several state parks that have equestrian campgrounds, and hosted two summers at another. In all cases the equestrian campers were separated from the "normal" campers by a significant distance, usually in their own dedicated campground.

The biggest reason for the separation wasn't noise, it was smell and flies. No matter how well the equestrian sites are picked up they stink and they attract flies. 

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Late arrivals are not the only discourteous ones. How about those that clunk around packing up to leave at 5 AM slamming doors, tailgates, or trunks, hooking up the fiver, firing up the diesel and letting it idle while the air pressure builds, the jacks are raised and the toad hooked up, etc. 

Edited by trailertraveler

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4 hours ago, mptjelgin said:

I am surprised that your equestrian sites are not off by themselves. I've stayed at several state parks that have equestrian campgrounds, and hosted two summers at another. In all cases the equestrian campers were separated from the "normal" campers by a significant distance, usually in their own dedicated campground.

The biggest reason for the separation wasn't noise, it was smell and flies. No matter how well the equestrian sites are picked up they stink and they attract flies. 

Going a little deeper into our campground's history:

Beginning as early as 1564, Philip of Spain proposed the digging of a barge canal across central Florida connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. That concept would not come into fruition until 1935 when President Roosevelt allocated the first 5-million dollars in funding for the dig. The project was short lived due to the opposition to the canal, as those who opposed it believed that the canal would deplete Florida's aquifers (underground fresh water supply that runs the length of thee state), so the project was stopped a year after it had begun. Construction of the canal was reauthorized in 1942 as a "National Defense Project" with dams and locks being added to the canal system to help protect the Floridian and other aquifers in the area. Yet actual work on the canal did not begin until 1964 when Then President Johnson set off the first explosives to resume construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The plan was to have the project completed by 1971, but the opponents continued campaigning against it on environmental grounds. Then President Nixon signed an executive order on January 19, 1971 halting further construction on the canal system. During 1991 the project was officially cancelled and in 1998 the mile wide canal right of way was given to the state and became the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway as it is known today, thus preserving this historical strip of land forever as a recreational use only part of Florida. From there modern campgrounds were built along the vast trail network that had been developed first for equestrians to come and ride their horses on, followed by hiking and mountain biking trails, and a reservoir for some of the southeast US's finest freshwater sport fishing.

Our campground was originally built for and only served the equestrian campers before RVers were allowed to begin camping here some years later. Finally followed by the tent campers a few years ago. So most of our non-horse campers know ahead of time that we do allow the horses and that the sites may have a bit of a horsey smell when they check in. For the few who may still have issue with that, we simply offer to move them to another site if one is available. I must say that we have been fortunate here and the flies due to the horses have not been a nuisance for our guest.

Our county was the last setion of the Cross Florida Barge Canal slated to be dug, with the waters of the both the east and westerly sections lapping at our shores at each end of the county. Although the digging here had begun, our section never saw water since it was never connected to the navigable portions of the canal. But had that happened and the canal had been placed into operation, rather than looking out over our campers and campsites from our Lead Host campsite, we instead would have been watching ocean going barges passing by just a short distance from our RV as the traversed the 100 yard wide barge canal that would have run from the Saint Johns River near Palatka, FL. to the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown, FL.

Edited by Gary Hage

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Some folks coming in late do not have any concern for neighbors.  We have run across this issue both as campers and as host.  As a host, if after 10 PM, we call the Ranger on duty to address the issue.

If we are just a camper, I have no issue opening the door and telling them to reduce the noise level and be considerate of other campers.  If it continues, I get in touch with the host or call the park after hours number.

Ken

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I've arrived late on a number of occasions.  I leave the rig off premises, go to the front door, get my packet of info, check out the route to the pad.  Hoping for a pull thru.  Fire the rig up and get in as quickly as possible then shut the truck down.  The airbrakes get set once. As far as setting things up for the night, I may pop the kitchen slide enough to open the fridge to grab some food to heat. I have water on board, don't need power for 1 nite, have sat tv and don't need to hook up the sewer pipe.

Generally after getting in late it's take a shower, eat then hit the sack.

I also advise the Park that it will be late.  They have the opportunity to nix the reservation.

Things happen on the road, construction delays, accidents +++

So what if people get up at 5 and leave shortly after, that is the best time of the day to drive, no tailgaters and little traffic.

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3 hours ago, rdickinson said:

...So what if people get up at 5 and leave shortly after, that is the best time of the day to drive, no tailgaters and little traffic...

So it is OK to make too much noise and disturb others in the morning, but not at night? It is still quiet hours at 5AM at most campgrounds. Do those rules only apply at night not in the morning?

I am usually still awake until about midnight, so those making noise and setting up late don't usually bother me. That doesn't mean that it doesn't disturb others.  Just as some turn in before 12PM don't like/appreciate being awakened at 12PM, some do not get up early and do not appreciate being woken at 5AM. Kind of interesting that one of the dings on this forum and others against campgrounds with working folks is that they tend to get up early and start their trucks disturbing the peace of the campground.

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