Going out for a weekend camping trip can be one of the most enjoyable summer activities that Alberta can offer a couple, a family or group of friends, but it only takes one group of rowdy partygoers to ruin a good weekend.
Not to mention a large bunch of fines for those partygoers.
It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone when the campground’s simple rules aren’t followed explained Terry Jordan, community Peace Officer for Athabasca County.
“Go out and have a good time, but be respective of others around you and remember that the quiet hours are from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” he added.
When there is a mix of families, who want to spend the weekend camping in peace and quiet, and a group of young partygoers who end up drinking too much then the problems arise.
In the month of June, Jordan handed out seven campground suspensions, which can last for as long as three months, in campgrounds located in Athabasca County.
For the month of July Jordan handed out six suspensions.
At ForFar Recreation Park Jordan handed out four lifetime suspensions for criminal acts within the park.
“Basically a lot of it has to do with unruly behaviour,” explained Jordan.
Jordan isn’t usually the first one on scene to hand out the initial warnings to unruly and loud campers.
“The camp managers will usually go out and give the first warnings. You start hitting people when they start consuming alcohol in excess,” said Jordan.
“I walk up to them and tell them the rules and if they continue to disobey to rules, I’ll either get the RCMP or the PO and boot them out,” explained Shawn Petrie, camp manager at ForFar Recreation Park.
When campers begin drinking too much that’s when the problems usually begin.
“Alcohol is the biggest factor,” asserted Petrie.
“They lose consideration for other campers, the music goes up and they start doing silly things like wandering into neighbouring campsites,” explained Jordan.
The inappropriate actions have even gone as far as urinating on other camper’s tents said Jordan.
“Unfortunately when people consume an excess of alcohol they lose their inhibitions and that results in appropriate actions.”
For those who think that since they paid for their site they should be able to drink anywhere they want, that’s not the case.
“The only place you’re allowed to consume alcohol is on a properly registered campsite,” said Jordan.
Drinking anywhere else will either result in warnings or tickets. That includes walking around the campground and on day beach areas.
Although ForFar has had its share of problems early on in the year, things have been quiet for the latter part of July and so far into August.
“The last three weeks have been really good,” said Petrie. One of the reasons for the lack of problems is a new initiative that Petrie and his wife, Tanis, have put into place at ForFar.
“For the day use campers they must show me their ID’s and I write them down so that if there are any problems it’s easy to know who it is,” he explained.
With summer in full swing finding a spot in campgrounds isn’t that easy, but if you’ve found one in either a regularly or partially monitored campground don’t think you can get away without paying.
For three of the area campgrounds, ForFar, Jackfish and Hope, they all have resident managers, which essentially means that someone is taking registration fees and watching the parks.
Campgrounds such as Narrow Lake, Ghost Lake and Long Island Lake all work on the honest system, where campers submit the payments for each night they stay on their own accord, have had problems involving campers who didn’t end up paying at first but will.
“For example, at Narrow Lake its $10 a night, so if a camper stays for five nights they’ll end up owing $50. If they don’t end up paying they will have to pay a fine of $200. What would you rather pay?” asserted Jordan.
Camp managers and Jordan monitor who comes into those campgrounds by license plates, so if someone hasn’t paid they’ll know.
Campground managers can also hand out suspensions that can range from 72 hours to one week.
According to Jordan a camper who has received a suspension and returns to the campsite during the time they not are allowed will given an automatic $600 fine.
Don’t worry, Jordan and the campground managers aren’t out to nail you on every little thing.
It’s as easy as respecting your neighbours and abiding by campground rules.
“They are there for the public enjoyment. Our goal is not to walk in an immediately hand out tickets,” explained Jordan