We had to kick out some campers tonight. Sometimes they just have to give us a reason to do it. Often we give them as much room to enjoy the place as they can. But when they take advantage of us, that is where we draw the line. I really don't feel like giving specifics here, so don't ask.
We are about the cheapest campground in the county; only $20 a night. We have water & electric at all sites, and restrooms with hot showers. You can't get that anywhere else for that price. KOA charges about $55 a night, and more during peak season in the winter. Hotels/motels are not any cheaper. This is an expensive place to stay in Florida.
Unfortunately a few changes that came down from Tallahassee are making it harder for us. It takes a lot to run a campground and maintain law and order, with a minimal amount of rangers. During peak season we are down to one ranger per 100 people during the day, and one to 500 at night. When people don't like to maintain law and order, it makes problems for everyone. Here are the two worst changes that the state made, that are making it difficult for us:
First, about three years ago, they told us we now have to allow people to keep their alcohol. If they are in their campsite or RV, then they can consume alcohol at their leisure. So now people are allowed alcohol in state parks. This is the absolute worst thing that has happened. Many of the behavior problems we have from people are ususally related to alcohol. It is not easy to get a drunk to cooperate. Their reasoning is impaired and they will not always do the right thing. A lot of the vandalism in parks is also related to alcohol. And when they leave the park, they leave a mess for me to clean up. Most all the law enforcement problems we have are usually related to alcohol, and any old park ranger or deputy will tell you the same thing. So if they have alcohol, we can't kick them out. And if they are drunk, we can't have them leave on their own and drive away. It was easier when they were drunk and had problems, that the sheriff would take them away.
Second: the governor just signed a bill that allows people to keep their firearms in state parks. Hey, if they want to have their pistols, shotguns, or rifles, they can. But I am still not allowed to carry one in my ranger uniform. So if I am not allowed to carry a firearm, but a drunk camper is, how do you think that makes me feel? You think I will be willing to face a drunk camper at night in their campsite causing problems to the surrounding campers? I would have to think twice.
As always, those making the rules are not those who have to enforce them.