Is there anything more relaxing than a campground at night?

Listen to this story

By Greg Gerber

Note: I wrote this article a few years ago when I was traveling the country full time in a motorhome. It’s one of my favorites.

Tonight, I just walked around the campground watching and listening to all the activity.

There’s a guitar player just strumming his own made-up melody in the light of the campfire.

Children are making s’mores, roasting marshmallows and, at one site, attempting to pop popcorn.  Thank goodness someone invented an extension tool to fit Jiffy Pop pans!

There’s a  grandfatherly figure treating his grandchildren to a scary story.  I’m hoping he won’t regret it later.

The laughter.  Oh my!  There is one large group of people just having the time of their lives. How can you worry about the stress of the week when you’re caught up laughing with family and friends. Laughter is the most potent stress reliever.

The campground I am at is rather large, and there’s some kind of flashlight game going on in the wooded trails in the back. I remember well the fun of playing capture the flag as a Boy Scout, and having fun with younger Scouts on legendary snipe hunts.

There are many people sitting silently just mesmerized by the smoldering coals of their campfire — and yawning — an indication that we’re wired to go to sleep shortly after sundown, rather than force ourselves to stay awake watching some type of electronic screen.

Although it is 65 degrees outside, there are a couple of kiddos fighting sleep snuggled in blankets sitting on their parents’ laps.

Some drunken yahoos are shooting off fireworks, and I suspect they’ll soon be enjoying a visit from the campground staff.

A few young mothers are chatting away in the laundry room trying to ensure their clans have clean clothes for tomorrow.

A group of six children are giggling with delight and making sounds of “ooooh, look at that” as they are entertained with some type of campfire additive that turns the flames into different colors.

A few other children, already filled up on marshmallows, were having a contest to see who could get their marshmallows to ignite into the largest molten mess. That is until a parent snatched away their joy. I wouldn’t want to clean it up either.

At more than one campsite, the adults are engaged in some type of card game between frequent swatting of mosquitoes and moths away from the lantern.

It appears that wine is the beverage of choice for most adults this evening. There are several vineyards in the Traverse City area, and they undoubtedly took a side trip earlier today.

Someone has figured out there is more hot water if you take a shower late at night than compete with the crowd in the morning.

Voices fluctuating, a few adults are debating last Thursday’s presidential debate performance. Trust me, it’s way, way, way too early to ruin a weekend thinking about a presidential election.

I love watching couples strolling through the campground holding hands. I think there is truth to the saying that couples who routinely hold hands never see the inside of a divorce court.

All in all, this packed campground is still alive with activity even as the clock ticks past 11 p.m.

Yep, I saw him. A raccoon was peeking out from the edge of the woods, waiting patiently — almost — for everyone to go to bed so he can get to work gobbling up scraps and teaching new campers a lesson about keeping food and coolers out in the open.

Except for the guy who pushed the panic button on his keychain instead of the button to lock the doors, and then panicked himself to shut off the piercing noise, the sounds of a campground at night are among the best sounds on earth.

This truly is a wonderful lifestyle.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at

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  • Drew says:

    The best time I ever had was when Dwight Yoakam and Cheryl Crow walked into our campsite and began playing songs around the campfire.

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