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This sounds familiar!!! Like almost every public campout we ever held!

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  • This sounds familiar!!! Like almost every public campout we ever held!

    I didn't write this, link to original posting at the bottom. But this illustrates greatly for those that have never actually coordinated something like this, how messed up it can be. I will add notes in bold here and there.

    I have just returned from a four-day family reunion and here are my observations. To set the stage I arranged for a four-day family reunion with several families of men, women and children. The time was end of July and into August 2022. The place was a much coveted remote Forest Service Group Site that could hold up to 200 people. The site was at about the 5,000 foot elevation and right next to a lovely salmon-bearing stream. The campground still had patches of snow that had yet to melt. It was about 250 feet wide and 500 feet long, and was level with over a dozen picnic tables and fire pits with three large vault toilets. The ability to book this site was over 15 months in the making because of the competition and was booked and paid for by myself for only $220 for all four days. To me, that is an incredible bargain. Costs should be shared on something like this. "Preppers" are the cheapest SOBs out there, period, yep I said it and hand to God it's true. When we AFTER YEARS of freebees went to a small $20. per family donation for the public campouts we held, well I was then a SOB in some folks eyes. What's interesting is a great many supposed "like minded" folks would chince or not pay even this small amount.

    I was excited to nail down this site with the days that I had wanted and to gather the families in a post-Covid world to see how everyone was. I had never been camping with most of my extended family so I had no idea of the skill level or lack thereof. We hear the constant drumbeat in the survival community of building community is more important than the air we breathe, so build community with family. Right? Well, here is my story.

    I invited several families to join us in the mountains on this date. I sent via Facebook and Email the particulars of this site with the dates and times and travel directions. I had said that the Forest Service does allow pets but please leave your pets at home so there would not be any conflicts. I had warned in the messaging that this is a remote site with no cell service, no water, and no flush toilets and the temperatures could range from 90 degrees midday to 40 degrees at night. I explained, as camp host. I would provide three breakfast meals, on three mornings and the remaining meals were up to them. Also, hot water would be available for tea or ramen-type meals the entire day. People pay no attention to what you tell them, period. You "invited" them so to many you now have to PROVIDE for them.

    Because of the fire danger they only allowed one main campfire and no other firepits could be used so plan on bringing some firewood to add to the main campfire. I will confess to being an over-planner and a clean freak so I mentioned that only the four people preparing meals would be allowed into the two 10′-0 x10′-0 pop-up tents with the fresh water and the food and the pair two-burner Camp Chef stoves. This was for sanitation and food safety. I ran twine around these two pop-up tents and the kitchen had but one entrance to keep the non-cooks out.

    My spouse and I arrived at 11:AM on the first day and did some minor cleanup of the entire camp so we knew what the site looked like before others arrived. We even went into the vault toilets and added toilet paper and pump hand sanitizers. The heat was exhausting and we were the first to arrive. We got the kitchen area set up and by 1:00 PM the other campers soon arrived. I had bought 96 gallons of fresh water from home in 6-gallon jerry jugs and I had asked my relation to fill his reserve fresh water tank in his RV and that would provide nearly 200 gallons to cook and clean with. There is a gate to get in and the Forest Service provided us with the punch code which I provided to the other family members. By 8:00 PM the last of the campers had arrived and we were at about 50 people. They ranged in age from 81 (with dementia) to a 4-month-old infant. Re-read her last sentence for the folks that think they will invite others to their retreats and JUST get hard pipe hitting "military age males" that are ready to patrol, defend and fight.... Some still are stuck in the "red dawn" fantasy of this. The reality is your going to have a ton of nearly useless people, ALL of which have opinions which of course they think are valid and are for the most part not.

    This is the Honeymoon period of any campout, when spirits are high and all their needs are met. I thought this part was extremely funny as we often called the early period with a new group member the "honeymoon period"- this is because you didn't really know yet how they would ACTUALLY act under stress, tired, hungry, etc. People put on "masks" of BS
    that they will often keep up for a while but when they are tired, hungry, annoyed, have to actually WORK, etc. the mask slips....

    Who Let The Dogs Out?

    This came as a shock, even though I had asked for people to leave their beloved pets at home. Suddenly there were seven different dogs of different breeds roaming around. One was a pit bull and two were dachshunds and the others were mixed breeds. I myself have an elderly German Shepard that I left in the care of a kindly neighbor so as not to impose my pet on others. I asked the pet owners to leash their dogs in their camp area and not to let them roam free and cause conflict. That advice was promptly ignored and the site became a huge off-leash dog park. People that ASSUME their pets are welcome everywhere, anytime and that EVERYONE loves their little poop manufacturer are some of the worst. These are people that often cannot relate to actual human beings and seek "friendship" with pets because a cat or dog can't judge you when your acting like an arsehole, can't snub you after you've been rude, etc.

    I had an inkling that this was going to be a 96-hour ordeal and I was not wrong. By the next morning, the Honeymoon period had passed and people began to wake up in the wild. My spouse and I plus two other cooks had been up since 5 AM starting to get the breakfast ready, for a 7:30 AM feed. On the menu this morning was scrambled eggs, cowboy potatoes (fried potato slices covered with diced bacon and shredded cheese.) knew some would have done some serious drinking the night before. My only request was not to drink in front of the children and do it in your own camp area. I did have on hand a 20-cup percolator camp coffee pot. I made the coffee extra strong because people will bring their addictions. People's perceived "needs"- aka drinking, smoking, maybe even drugs for "medicinal" purposes, etc. will come to be known quickly. Truth be told these are in reality all WEAKNESSES. Yes I understand having a drink here and there, but LOCATION and CONTEXT are important- away on vacay and chilling out sure, around a bunch of unknown people IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE? Be careful of people who let their guard down to easily...

    At our first breakfast together a teenage family member announced that she was vegan and what we were serving was barbaric. I thought she was joking, then she said her breakfast order would be a single slice of gluten-free wheat bread toasted with organic honey and she would eat an egg only if it was sunny side up with pepper. I said that is not going to happen. She left in a huff with only a cup of black coffee. The mornings in the mountains are quite cold in the low 40s. I had a relation in her 60s complaining that she was cold and was constantly trying to get the campfire going to warm herself. I told her we had a limited amount of firewood. Seeing that only myself and two other families had brought any wood for the evening fire. We now had the first 24 hours of this family reunion done and the rest of the day was uneventful as folks rested and got caught up with each other lives.

    Unfortunately what starts out as simple kindness can become a nightmare. When we held public campouts regularly 3 guys (the original ones) who were a tad bit more up their in years (experienced shall we say!) started ON THEIR OWN ACCORD making a breakfast for folks in the morning. Two guys from GA and one guy from FL (T). Being a very light sleeper I would often hear them in never more than a whisper getting things going long before anyone got up. They worked quietly and ON THEIR OWN VOLITION did a really nice deed for folks. Later the word of this spread as people talked about the gatherings on forums, etc. Several others stepped up to "help" them. Once we had people actually dropping a few dollars to help pay for the camp site, I would often kick in $$$ from that to cover the food costs- these 3 guys had been paying for that on their own. Two others offered to "help" these original guys but the dynamic clearly changed after that. I could see that happening early on as the last 2 were complainers, one a very loud complainer. A "job" like what these original 3 were doing was a self-less act as well as a PITA, some people aren't cut out for that, nor should they 'volunteer' for such things. The last two to "help" were clearly in that "not cut out for this" category. As the guy that organized these, taught classes there for free, etc. I would always hear people's "gripes" and the last two were happy to gripe about the help they freely offered for the breakfast set up. One was always extremely negative about it and despite the last two being literally late comers to doing it, seemed to act like THEY borne the burden of the entire thing for years. The irony was the original SELF LESS three guys, never complained a bit.

    If you volunteer to help with something, which you should, do so with a willing spirit, don't do it cause you want to post on forums that you did something. And FWIW, organizers of these things get sick of hearing all your bitching, period. If you feel the need to bitch about everything you are getting for free, just STFU and don't come again, period.

    The following morning at 6 AM we noticed more campers milling around the main campfire waiting for breakfast. I asked for volunteers to peel potatoes for more cowboy potatoes to spur breakfast along ( No one volunteered.) This was following by a stack of buttermilk pancakes and scrambled eggs per usual. The breakfast and coffee went well, but I was angered when young relation in his late twenty’s reached his unwashed hand into the scrambled eggs ready to be served — to feed his beloved Dachshunds. I chided him on how unsanitary that was and that food will now have to be reheated before its fit to serve. I simply could not throw out nearly 6 dozen eggs. He complained to me that his dogs were out of dog food and were hungry.

    Re-read the parts in the above paragraph I underlined. Remember the gal writing this is your typical "we are the world" type Prepper who thinks everyone will get along, pull their own share, plant victory gardens and sing kumbaya together around the fire. She learned some great lessons here, it just sucks the way you have to learn this. And yes sometimes you have to volunTOLD some folks when you need help in a group setting. My mistake for DECADES was assuming people in a group setting gave a $hit and would get off their arses when they SAW a need/something to be done. That's giving people too much credit unfortunately. Most people will sit on their butts with things that need to be done right in front of them, either oblivious to it, not caring or not willing to help out.

    We were now 72 hours into this ordeal and when we awoke at 5 AM nearly all the campers were milling around in the pre-dawn dark awaiting breakfast. It had dawned on me that they had brought chips and snacks and those were long gone. As for water, I noticed that the water was nearly gone. A pair of 9-year-olds had brushed their teeth in the kitchen area and left the main tank spigot on. We were down to seven gallons of fresh water. I did not want to spend hours boiling the water from the creek. Reminds me of the big local family that would invite themselves to the campouts (I only invited them one time) and they would bring their 57 kids which acted like they had not eaten in weeks. They would raid other people's coolers (not sure they brought ANYTHING on their own) the kids just helping themselves to anything that was around. The family actually STOLE items of gear from me as well, actually catching the "father" walking off with a med kit one time and after he joked "you didn't think I was stealing that did you?" Unfortunately the "public" face aka MASK we have to wear at things like this plus acting under SOCIAL NORMS (we have talked about that before) made me just smile and say "hahaha course not" when in reality I was thinking something drastically different and reminding myself of high dollar gear that disappeared with them around last time (when I stopped inviting them).

    Part of leadership is keeping your temper. This was a struggle for me. We did serve a very hearty breakfast and made additional pancakes to supplement the meals they were missing.

    As I read this part that is underlined I started thinking of all of the BS you have to deal with, the stuff you let "slide" by (see above paragraph) and I realize that now I am a different person and tend to let crap like this slide any more. Maybe it's just I'm getting older and have less tolerance for BS, maybe it's 36 years of preparing and interacting with "like minded" people that makes me have the "rose colored glasses" long ago off, but I now disagree with her statement.

    There IS a place where showing a little anger in leadership is important. There IS some serious infractions that will chip away at a group that should be nipped in the bud INITIALLY.

    That evening fire was very small, thanks to the relation that was cold in the mornings the wood was all gone so they resorted to burning twigs and sticks where they could find them.

    The notion of "everyone chipping in" and "preppers help each other out" non-sense seems to have melted away from this gal now. It's both happiness and a little sadness to me when I see people "wake up" to the true nature of others- YES even "like minded" folks, even those that call themselves Christians. We are all selfish arseholes when it comes down to it- ALL of us (myself included).

    The final day of departure was here and for me it could not come soon enough. Our lovely camp became a version of The Lord Of the Flies. And speaking of flies those seven dogs had pooped everywhere including in the kitchen area. Sanitation was gone. Because we had to make the other two breakfast so large and so much food was pilfered to feed the dogs our final breakfast together was sparse. I did bring two # 10 cans of chili that supplemented the breakfast to make it last. Remember these are the folks she likes she is going to form "community" with, they could not come prepared AT ALL for a 2 night campout, she has LESS THAN ZERO chances of them preparing for anything. Her best course of action right now would be to distance herself from ANY discussion of preparedness, camping, etc. with these folks and NEVER mention it again. If she made the mistake of having a "let's prepare together" talk with these yahoos she needs to feign boredom with the idea, moving on to the next "hobby" of which she talks about incessantly (water polo?? LOL) to become a diversion, smoke screen and hopefully let the folks forget the "preparedness thing" she was interested in/talked about whatever.

    Personal grooming of the campers was gone, and manners wore thin. The campers were eager to leave right after breakfast. I asked to inspect their camp area to make sure it was as clean as they got it. The first group left at 8 AM and left a clean camp. The second and third also left a clean camp. The fourth group with the dachshunds was a mess and as they tried to leave I stood in front of the car and said: “Clean this up before you go.” He bitterly complained that it was this way when he found it and I called him a liar. He did pick up a full bag of garbage and handed it to me and I promptly threw it in his backseat. He sped away.

    RIGHT ON SISTER!!! Having "policed up" hundreds of campsites over 36 years with the eyes of a tracker- pretty much no one does a 100% job in this area. Your doing well if small bits of trash (cut 550 cord pieces, small bits of MRE wrappers, etc) are picked up and carried out.

    Well, the moral of this story is people will be people and you must deal with that. Leadership is a skill that is difficult to learn. Next time someone berates you for not putting “COMMUNITY” above all else be very careful who joins your community. In my case, within 100 hours we were a failed community. Experience is a brutal teacher. This experience is on my list of things that I will never do again. This one is tops!

    BRAVO!! Seriously, she now "gets it." And this is EXACTLY what we've been saying for 30+ years. Yes "community" but "community" YOU PICK not just a bunch of jackarses thrown together at the last minute. A group that has worked together, trained together and prepared AHEAD OF TIME for years. That's what you want.

    She now realizes from DOING instead of just TALKING on the internet. She is now 600 miles ahead of 99% of the "preppers" out there with "plans" they have never practiced, executed and just "lists" of things they will never do, etc. I wish you well ma'am!

    An Illustrative Family Reunion Camping Trip, by MacHam. I arranged for a four-day family reunion with several families of men, women and children.

    "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed..."

  • #2
    Yeah. I can relate to all that after a couple of group campouts.


    • #3
      Family visits, campouts, family reunion....there's always a few who made me question "Why did I think this was a good idea?"


      • #4
        amen... and an admission to being guilty to many of the discussed sins.

        we camp now several times a year. but now folks bring their own bathrooms and kitchens.
        most of our co -campers are "seniors" and that helps...

        but, many of the mentioned sins still come out.. and new ones.

        a good post.


        • #5
          Looks like we may get a break and take a run to AL with the motorhome in September to see the boys and their families, Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise😉


          • #6
            We still camp together, but have learned to keep it to invites only, and then only we have met the folks several times and have ensured that they pulled their weight. Sometimes, it is best to take the time to get to know folks. We meet monthly at a local diner and give a class on some aspect of preparedness, and then every month we meet for breakfast on a social level. Great filtering method. We also push ham radio hard, and have organized a local net, along with gear suggestions, and mentoring. Very greyman, and no defensive stuff publicly.

            OMBC Forever! we need a reunion so we can haze the new "experienced"ones...


            __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________

            There are very good reasons why we all are gathered here...


            • #7
              i'm for the reunion.
              if i bought a new coffee pot, or grill, would it be the best one?
              or if someone had a fancier grill do you think they would be humble?
              or would i hear a consultation on being prideful?


              • #8
                Originally posted by rockriver View Post
                i'm for the reunion.
                if i bought a new coffee pot, or grill, would it be the best one?
                or if someone had a fancier grill do you think they would be humble?
                or would i hear a consultation on being prideful?
       might get a passionate lecture about camping equipment equity....


                • #9
                  lol... wwd, i think you are on the right track!
                  why should the guy that works hard, invests well, controls his frivolous spending
                  have something better than a spendthrift, who doesn't work to work, plan ahead?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rockriver View Post
                    lol... wwd, i think you are on the right track!
                    why should the guy that works hard, invests well, controls his frivolous spending
                    have something better than a spendthrift, who doesn't work to work, plan ahead?
                    Exactly. Surely we would not begrudge donating some of OUR hard-earned money to a basement dweller...


                    • #11
                      Skimming through old threads I land.

                      having hosted and helped with " camp outs" for a minute. I got about 2 paragraphs in and already knew where thst circus was headed.
                      I've been going to a family camp out like Posted for years.( I'm not the host )
                      All family with close family friends.

                      Even after nesr 17yrs...they still have issues like in LDs post..from diet " gross outdoors is icky" using up resources like candy.

                      It's very annoying for me..
                      So I spend time hiking or fishing.
                      Mostly because I don't get how some don't get it,, after so many events..

                      Smaller is better imho and folks being on the same page all around. Helps immensely.
                      Hey dropped your man pad!