©Bert Gildart: Here’s another lengthy comment from a reader who preferred to remain anonymous. This person’s thoughts add yet another perspective on this subject of dealing with prospective violence in campgrounds. The subject is one I’ve been covering in the four postings prior to the one on Virgil Ware, and which has generated much interest. (Protective Measures, Ranger Patrol Turned Violent, Defensive Measures, More Thoughts on Hostile Behavior)
The individual’s comments read as follows:
I’ve been following your latest blogs with great interest.
After your first blog, I was bracing myself for a host of responses from others suggesting that the best way to “be secure” is to carry a gun or some other lethal weapon. I’m often asked by fellow campers whether we travel with some sort of weapon. These seem to be an ice- breaking statement made by people who have already chosen to pack heat. When I answer “No,” inevitably I’m told about their gun and why they carry it. They usually try to convince me to get a gun, too.
So I was pleasantly surprised at the opinions expressed by your contributors, who both talked about non-lethal ways to de-escalate a potential situation. In our years of travel, we never once encountered a situation in which anything truly threatening occurred. Those few times that we were concerned, the “threat” was all in our minds. In my experience, campgrounds are generally safe places.
Many people would say we were just lucky, and I’m sure there’s some truth to that. But it is also true that we prevented situations from occurring by being diligent in researching places before we went, aware of our surroundings when we arrived, and cautious about situations that popped up during our stay. Our Airstream has wheels, and there is no point in sitting still next to bad neighbors like a housebound person might. If in doubt, move on.
“GUNS NOT OUR CHOICE”
While several friends travel with lethal weapons (mostly handguns), that’s not our choice. As your first contributor points out, there are very few situations in which lethal force is necessary, and many more times where it would be a huge mistake. I don’t want the temptation to make a huge mistake sitting in my trailer. Experts also say that brandishing a weapon you don’t intend to use is a mistake as well.
PREFERS PEPPER SPRAY
On the other hand, I’m a fan of non-lethal defenses like pepper spray. We used to travel with a small can, but it got confiscated at the Canadian border during a trip. We should probably get a replacement.
Bill makes a good point as well. People’s impressions can be formed on scant detail: how you dress, who you’re with, what your trailer looks like. It is just as easy to form a positive impression as a negative one, and we always try to do that. Introducing yourself to neighbors is always a good idea. Being friendly and flying a flag tells people, “I’m not a threat,” and letting people know who you are often means they’ll look out for you.
I often see people who are their own worst enemies. They shun others, scowl into other people’s campsites, never smile, and generally give off the impression that they are unpleasant. Troublemakers looking to harass another camper will generally aim for the target that seems most deserving of abuse. Don’t be the grumpy guy who yells at people for crossing his site. Don’t be the couple that pretends they didn’t see your friendly wave as you walked by. Don’t grab the children and tell them to go back to the trailer just because somebody with a tattoo is in sight. If you act fearful, you may just attract that which you fear most.
Thanks for covering this topic.
NOTE: Continued contributions are welcome on this subject of violence in our campgrounds, but in the meantime we’ll be switching topics, moving on to plans for our upcoming trip to Alaska. There’s much preparation required and I’ll be discussing a bit of that in my next posting. We’ll be departing in about three weeks.