Passing acquaintances in the campground

In many ways, campgrounds are a lot like small towns and rural areas.

Everyone smiles and waves at everyone else. Whether walking, driving or sitting outside, we give every passing vehicle or person a friendly greeting. 

Sometimes you can tell when one of your camping neighbors has friends or family visiting. These are the folks who stare in surprise when you wave to them.

In rural areas, everyone gets a wave because you likely know them or are related to them.

In campgrounds, it seems to me to be more that every passing face belongs to someone who could become a friend.

Instead of the classic Southern greeting “How’s your mom’n’em (meaning the rest of the family)?” a camper might ask, “So where are you going next?”  

The wee caravan stands alone and not too crowded at Springhill COE park near Barling, Ark., just east of Fort Smith. We don’t have many pictures of our conversations with neighbors. Too busy talking!

Friendship is a funny old thing, no matter where you live.

We humans are adapted to be social animals (and that’s not the same as being social media animals).

We need fellowship; we need community; we need neighbors. 

We need friends. And while deep friendships can be a struggle to cultivate, full-time campers seem to thrive with just passing acquaintances. 

Part of that may be that these are transient friendships with people we are unlikely to meet again. Even then, meeting an acquaintance from a year ago at the same park is a particular thrill. Seeing Pastor Tom again this year was a treat. And here’s hoping to see Red again sometime, as well as that friendly kid who just turned 13 while we were in Livingst0n.

Another big part may be a desire for interactions that mimic deep friendships. Many of us on the road are recently retired. For us, it can be hard to keep up the mental sharpness honed by a busy life of work and relationships in one spot.

This is a repeat from the Yellowstone post. We spent some time visiting with the couple in the foreground, who were fellow crowd-avoiders. They were motorcycle tourists camping in the park.

The Washington Post addressed this in a recent article advising seniors to increase their social networks as they age. It’s a decent read, and you can follow this link Even non-subscribers should be able to read it. I hope.

One thing that helps, I think, is that in the RV park we open up in ways that we never would to the typical stranger on a city street. We share our lives, our hopes and our fears in ways that we might not even to relatives or work friends.

Loneliness is your enemy. It can even kill you, eventually.

So be a friend. Be friendly. Even if it’s for a five- minute conversation with someone you’ll never see again.

It can help both of you.

Visits with neighbors turn up ideas like this cat patio, attached to a portal in the storage hatch that gives the kitty a way to get in and out to a safe outside place. Cool. So was the neighbor, a runner. So was his camper, an Escape fiberglass trailer.
A foggy day at the Escapees club home base in Livingston, Texas. More crowded than some, but a longer stay means more time to get to know neighbors. (Note Vicki inside the tent, waving at the strange guy with the camera!)

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