Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband and I recently stayed at a national forest campground in Washington that cost $14.00 per night. Since we have the Senior Pass, our fee was $7.00. I only wanted to pay half of that because the trash barrels were overflowing, we could smell the pit toilet from the furthest campsite, there were beer bottles and party trash at every site, and little maintenance had been done in a long while. My husband insisted I pay our full share. I feel like this is rewarding them for doing a lousy job. It happened to be May 21 and my husband told me I didn’t want to chance doing something wrong on the last day. I told him I would rather pay $6.98 and give the campground people my two cents worth when I met them at the big campfire.
--Slow Burn in Bellingham
You could be dealing with a Government contracted concessioner who is not honoring the custodial contract, or it could be worse, you could be dealing with the Government. If that campground closes down, or goes up in price 30%, you will know it is Government run. Their new business model is, “Less service, for more money.” They say this will solve our deficit problems. Already Florida, Arizona and California are shutting down parks. California is always way ahead of the curve. They stopped maintenance and cut staff long ago. I don’t know what the Governor was thinking, but I know what he was thinking with. I think you were right in paying your full discounted fee. Try to look at it as an entire system of some of the greatest camping in the world. I think you will admit that you have paid the reduced fee at many campgrounds that were spectacular, clean and well managed in the National Forest System. It is no different from going to a nice, poorly managed hotel that forgot to leave a chocolate on your pillow. The cleaning staff ate it - you know it, and I know it. Move on, you have bigger fish to fry before October 21. Yes, that is the rain check date for the next last day. Keep your nose clean until then, even in campgrounds with odorous outhouses.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink