Camping can be awesome fun when things go smoothly. I have had a few occasions when things did not, and it wasn’t the wildlife or the outdoors that were the problem. Sometimes the problem is unruly campers, altercations with angry or intoxicated people, or theft. I have experienced a few of these issues and had to call for help at least once.
Let’s talk about theft. No one wants to think about having your camping equipment, kayaks, or other items stolen while you’re blissfully enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Unfortunately, it does happen and it can be devastatingly expensive when it does. Thieves are everywhere, unfortunately. It is naive to assume all of the other campers are well-behaved, evolved humans. Safety is always important when it comes to fires and wildlife, but don’t forget the other humans around you.
It was 2 a.m. on Saturday night, at a fairly nice and packed campground when I was rudely awakened from a restful night’s sleep. I was in the camper and heard someone opening my cooler to take whatever they could find. I had tried to prevent theft in general by pushing it up against the trailer, but this was not enough. I jumped up and ran out of the trailer only to hear laughing and the sound of at least two teenagers running in the distance. At least they left the cooler. The next night, I strung up some low-lying trip-lines across the entrances to the campsite for my own entertainment. Unfortunately, no one came. I also slid the coolers out of sight under the trailer, directly under my bed.
Another incident involved a group of loud, drunken, less than evolved men drinking late and taking offense to be nicely asked to keep it down in the wee hours of the morning. I was with a group of women and these cavemen thought physically threatening the group would be effective. One of them actually came into our camp threatening to kick our collective asses. Needless to say, the local sheriff was called out to handle this mantosterone-filled Neanderthal.
Keeping in mind you can never know who is camping nearby on any given weekend, taking a few steps to ensure your safety can make the weekend much more enjoyable.
When you pick your site, think about your proximity to the camp hosts. The closer, the more likely things will be quiet and calm. I try to pick sites that don’t have through access for other campers to walk to the restroom or to the water. The less foot-traffic the better.
Take a few minutes to decide where you will keep your valuables when you’re away from camp. Theft from cars can happen, but it generally less likely in an active campground. If you put your things in a place that’s out of sight and lock your car, you’re less likely to be victim of theft. I actually pick things up that are expensive and put them in the car or in the camp trailer when we leave for the day to hike or partake in water activities. Kayaks or other expensive toys are secured in some fashion. I take down hanging hammocks which would be easy to grab and look around for things like headlamps, lanterns, and other items which are light and easy to grab.
Keep a phone charged for emergencies. I like to have a solar charger along for that purpose. Although service may be spotty, 911 tends to work, and if nothing else you can take photos or videos if something happens.
Don’t confront noisy, drunk, or confrontational campers. Alert the camp hosts and ask them to handle things. That’s their responsibility to respond or call the authorities. If you are that noisy, drunk, or confrontational camper, don’t be. You ruin it for everyone else.
If it has a lock use it. If you are camping in a trailer, take the time to use anti-theft devices such a hitch locks. Below is a link to a blog that addresses this issue specifically.
The links below to blogs about camping safety offer other valuable tips. Please be safe out there. Pick up your litter and maybe someone else’s, be kind to nature and to others, and enjoy your camping experience!