Car camping – midgets, bike gangs and a beagle named Bart

Sometimes the goods and bads of car camping is all dependant on who’s pitching a tent (or trailer) beside you, a factor that became all too familiar to my wife and I while wer pitched our tent at a number of campgrounds on the way to our vacation time in Prince Edward Island last week.

Alana and I hauled our four-year-old daughter, Kyla, to PEI recently to visit her grandparents and celebrate Alana’s father’s 75th birthday. On the way (and on the way back), we camped in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Ontario went as well as expected. Quebec was a pleasant experience, even though the private campground was adjacent to a strip bar. New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy National Park was fantastic, especially because Kyla befriended two girls around her age that camped beside us. Nova Scotia was when things went drastically downhill. It wasn’t the province’s fault. This is an amazing place to camp. It was our choice of places to camp. After a very long day of driving, boring poor Kyla to tears with Scooby-Doo DVDs and countless games of “Eye-Spy”, we blindly turned into a private trailer park just outside Caribou Island.

The campground itself was great, situated right on the ocean where we spotted seals and whales directly off the beach. And it wasn’t the ownership of the place, managed by a midget who entertained Kyla of stories when she played professional basketball with the “little people’s league” in Hamilton, Ontario. It was our neighbors who made life miserable. They owned a rusted out pick-up truck with large-beam headlights mounted to the roof, had a beagle named Bart, and loved playing AC/DC’s “Who’s Got the Biggest Balls of them All” over and over again. Their campfire grew to over six feet high, empty beer bottles soon decorated the site, and their children, only a few years older than Kyla, had worse foul language than the parents.

The owner arrived to settle them down just before dusk, riding in on her altered golf cart (Kyla thought that was really cool!). They reacted by boosting the music even louder. A bike gang, who were camped near by, even wandered over to ask if their kids could keep the mouthy comments to themselves. Of course, it took the police, who arrived just after midnight, to deal with them. One was even wanted and taken away in the cruiser.

It was too late for any of us to get any sleep by then, and we packed up to leave before 5:00 am, totally exhausted and totally put off staying at another campground.

So, what are we doing for our second-half of our holidays? We’re taking Kyla on a remote canoe trip in Temagami. It’s not that we are totally put off car camping. We just need a break from it. After all, some campgrounds have radio-free zones, dog-free zones, alcohol bands, and really nice campground owners who don’t tolerate bad campers. The question is, of course, what defines a “bad camper.”

How do you define a “bad camper?” Let me know by replying and telling me your stories of good and bad campgrounds. I’ll highlight the best when I get back from the “quiet” interior of Temagami.