I remember when I was a kid; I would be on the count down to the next school holidays from about the 2nd or 3rd week of the school term. They were exciting times for me, particularly the Easter and October Holidays- where the weather was still warm enough to go camping. The Christmas holidays were of course in its own category and can’t be compared- 6 weeks of pure awsomeness!
I remember my family’s holidays visiting our favourite coastal caravan park- we would pack the tent, esky, the boat, some fishing rods and a good time was guaranteed. Two weeks off school seemed like an eternity when you are only 7 and I was always keen to make every non-school day count. From sunrise to sunset- it was go, go, go. Not letting a minute go by that would otherwise be wasted. Even as a teenager, the family holiday was something to look forward to- the opportunity to bring a friend or 2, go exploring, get up to mischief and hope we didn’t get caught- terrorising the neighbourhood- the usual teenage boy shenanigans. Don’t get the wrong idea- I had good morals, manners and respect drilled into me- but boys will be boys no matter what.
In my late teens I remember spending weekends (usually long weekends) at a randomly selected caravan park not far from home where the sole purpose was to just have fun, have a few drinks (sometimes too many) and bond with mates. We always thought we weren’t hurting anyone by being noisy, we even thought the fireworks we let off at 2am near the camp kitchen were pretty harmless (and that no one else heard them). I guess we just didn’t have any scope of the effects of our actions at the time. We were almost oblivious to how disruptive we would have been to fellow campers (a combination of teenage adrenalin, ignorance and cheap grog). And I guess with a group of us (10-15 big loud teenage boys), no one really came to tell us to settle down- no one was game. I will be honest- we weren’t there to cause trouble, but we just didn’t think! We weren’t being considerate to others and I guess we probably ended up wrecking other peoples good times (and that was pretty awful of us). For that I now apologise. As invincible and independent late-teen boys (and girls) we just thought about what was happening in our “own world” (campsite and direct surroundings) and like I said before, I use the term “oblivious” to the effects on others.
Oh how Karma is powerful!
Now, as a 30 year old ”family man” who is living full time on the road travelling, I have a new found point of view- I am now one of the “other campers”. A victim of the type of campers I used to be- KARMA!
Look, I love a good time, I’m not a big drinker but still love a good chat and some late night banter, but I also have the responsibility of my family’s welfare. This includes their right to a good night’s sleep!
The school holidays are here as I type this. As full time travellers, we plan for school holidays too. The costs go up, places get busy, and our stuff becomes more vulnerable to bored and opportunistic ferals who would flog a tent a peg and keep it as a “badge of honour” and show it off to his mates.
We try to look for places that may not be obvious holiday hot spots, but sometimes it’s unavoidable or we get it wrong. It’s a chance we take.
For the campers (particularly those with kids), who take the opportunity of the school holidays to cash in some of their annual leave and take some time out to go camping with their kids- caravan parks and campgrounds are often the destination of choice. They may have needed to book their site well in advance, saved their pennies for months, juggle time off work etc. etc. – and many will rock up at the campsite and just let it all hang “loose”. And that’s what holidays are all about. Some recreation, some relaxing and some time with family and friends. Add a bit of “social lubricant” and may be a little too much sun and things can quickly turn interesting. A happy hour that’s turns into an all-nighter, a family bbq that turns into a rave party or a family game of monopoly that turns into WW3. With the increased number of holiday-makers with time off work/school and some over excited kids in the mix- school holidays can be a very interesting time indeed for any traveller.
For instance, we are halfway through week 1 of the Sept/Oct holidays, the park we are at now have some great facilities for kids and is close to the beach- of course it’s a mecca for kids and families to visit. It’s great that Cooper has lots of kids to play with at the moment. He has met 2 girls in the camp next to us and has enjoyed their company. Riding scooters, a bounce on the jumping pillow, a game of cars and much to my confused reaction- he even enjoyed a game with some Barbie dolls! We look forward to school holidays for this reason but apart from the increased costs of most holiday parks during holiday period there are a few other things that at times, make us cringe.
Firstly- the amenities. The poor cleaners have a hard enough job on the best of days, but I pity them even more so in peak times. Toilet paper fights, water fights, ummm…..more messy toilets (you know what I mean). If you aren’t trying hard not to slip over on wet floors you are spending 5 minutes cleaning the toilet seat before you or your kids can use it. And if you are lucky enough to have any hot water left for a shower- then you are doing well.
Secondly- Noise. Now I know everyone paid their money just like we did and are entitled to the same freedom, fun and use of the parks facilities. I guess from our own “selfish” point of view- we struggle when trying to put our 6 month old down for an afternoon rest when all of a sudden a group of screaming kids rush through our site, usually taking the most direct route to the pool or toilet block. And a result- a baby that is no longer asleep. AAAHHHHH! And then there’s the late night revellers……..need I say more.
Thirdly- Bored locals (mainly youth but not always). All of a sudden the local kids are able stay up late, socialise and walk the streets in groups looking for something to satisfy their craving for excitement and entertainment. (This doesn’t always happen in just school holidays but is definitely more prominent). A bit of booze, some Dutch courage and some egging on from mates can see anything happen. As campers, I guess we are somewhat vulnerable. We assume our “stuff” is safe if left under the awning close to where we sleep, we are either too busy or just plain lazy to put things away in a safe spot. We are too busy having a great time to worry about those things. Some people pray on this type of complacency- and opportunity can arise at any time. Even we get a little too comfortable at some camps and forget to be vigilant. With a lot of holiday parks located along main roads or close to beaches, rivers, reserves etc. it makes them very popular with passing late night riff-raff who may decide to “detour” their route for a quick squiz at the camps and take what’s not chained down.
There are other things of course that make school holiday times “interesting” for the long term traveller. I say this because generally, non-peak seasons in holidays parks are very quiet, visited by mostly mature campers and generally less busy.
Camp kitchens being left in a state of chaos and filth, rubbish thrown everywhere, kids who don’t seem to have any supervision or haven’t been taught consideration and manners. I think I may be sounding like a hypocrite based on my first few paragraphs of this post. But I guess with my recognition of my own personal youthful-feral behaviour and the fact that I’m writing this after 24 months on the road and camped in my 52nd caravan park in that time- I am somewhat qualified to express this opinion and point of view.
I may seem like a bit of a party-pooper, but I guess there is just another side to school holidays than that of the holiday maker!
It’s all about being considerate of others, being vigilant with valuables and being prepared for the influx of people who may be oblivious to those around them- not always intentionally!