Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 23, 2010

This used to be a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ matter

— My husband and I are in our 80s, married almost 63 years and have camped at least 55 of those years, once a week, with our family, in everything from a two-man pup tent to a one-ton “Born Free” camper. Mostly on the east coast, from New York to Florida. We also are among those who like a couple of beers at supper time.

I don’t remember where we saw the first “no alcohol” sign, but it was early on. We asked the ranger if this rule was strictly enforced.

He said, “It’s a don’t-ask, don’t-tell situation. The sign is there in case any campers are drunk and disorderly, we can evict them and show them the sign.” As long as you don’t display alcohol openly, i.e. drink your beer in a Styrofoam cup or put your beer can in a “coolie” cup. We used this method in all our camping and never were evicted.

Campers used to be honest citizens. If you went on a side trip, you could leave all your camping gear at your campsite and nothing would be moved while you were gone, unless a storm came up, then everything would be inside your tent with the flap secured. Not any more! Anything not nailed down will be stolen.

We used to camp at Lake Sugarloaf. One afternoon we noticed a car with a boat tied on top that said “Lake Sugarloaf.” We knew the owners and called and asked if they had sold a boat. They said “No!”

We told them where their boat was. They said they stopped a car with one of their picnic tables tied on top, and an RV that had strange sounds coming out of it. Someone had put one of their calves in it.

We were volunteer Camp Hosts at Deep Creek State Park, and the summer of 1994 we had 112 campsites to clean up when campers left. There were two kinds of campers, those who were neat and those who were slobs.

One family dumped leftover spaghetti in the fire ring when the dumpster was only 10 feet away! Have you ever tried to rake cooked spaghetti out of charcoal? We raked it out into a box and picked up watermelon rind they had left “for the bears.”

We took the box to the ranger and asked for the address of the campers because they left something behind. He said we could not mail it to them, but they would “flag” their name and inform them to take their trash or put it in the dumpster.

Another time we were cleaning up and a couple of teen-agers asked what we were doing and if they could help! They did an excellent job. So there are all kinds of campers.

A couple of campers knocked on our door at 10:30 p.m. and asked us if the rangers could get their neighbors to turn down the volume on their radio.

We didn’t remember any neighbors up their way, so we asked which campsite? They said they didn’t know, but just listen. You could hear it at our campsite too. We told them the sound wasn’t from our campgrounds, but it from the Honi-Honi Club clear across the lake.

When the wind’s in the right direction, you can hear them. They had a choice of using ear-plugs until 1 p.m. or just enjoying the music.

So, remember, campers: “Take nothing but your trash and leave nothing but your footprints, and have a wonderful week in the woods!”

J.D. and Marie Watkins

Oakland


 

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