Full-timers v. Weekend Warriors

Here’s a special post for you guys who’ve put up with all my Friends and Family Tour posts that have nothing to do with traveling. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

I’ve posted before about the cyclical week at a state park, as well as what it’s really like on the road, and a typical travel day for us. This post is about campground life for people like us—”full-timers” who live (and travel) in our camper—versus the weekend warriors—those who go camping on weekends as a break from work (or for a full week as vacation). My, my, are we two different types of campers.

(I apologize to all the weekend warriors out there who resent my comparisons here and to those who resemble them! I’m having fun lumping my observations of people all together for this blog post, is all. Please know that I’m not talking about you. This is tongue-in-cheek generalizations.)

Pulling In and Out

By definition, weekend warriors pull in on Friday (or Friday night in the dark) and pull out on Sunday. They come barreling in, screech to a halt at their favorite campsite that they go to year after year, and back in at breakneck speed, because their weekend is waiting! Usually the wife (you’d think I’m generalizing, but there’s a definite type here) stands behind the camper as the husband backs it up, and she’s yelling, “That way!” “No, that way!” “STOP!” Amazingly, they’re in in about three minutes.

We are so, so much more cautious. We drive through the campground and stop in the road by our campsite so we can get out and walk it. Is it level? Where exactly do we want to put the tires and bumper? Is the electric outlet safe? Only then does Tracy start backing in while I give instructions via the phone. I would say that our specific code terms for direction backing (not, “to the left!”) help us back in efficiently, but, honestly, it still takes us several tries. But there’s no yelling (not aloud).

At pull-out time, the weekenders screech out with huge bags of trash ready for the dumpster. They’ve got to get home, unload everything, and clean up and get ready for work tomorrow, poor suckers. We often take our time, packing up our outside stuff that morning and then rolling out like we own the place, just as the weekenders rolled in. Aren’t we smug? We’re retired!

Setting Up

Good grief, do normal campers love to put out a spread.

Although the photo above is from Christmas, it’s not far off from the lights weekenders display. Some RVs come ready-made with a neon strip of lights around the bottom and the top. Some people string lights around their entire campsite perimeter. Some bring those projection lights you see only at holidays, and they light up their camper or the trees around them. My favorite was neighbors in the Keys who projected swirling green dots on the undersides of the palm trees on their lot. That actually was cool.

We set up lights in the tent so we can play cards at night, but that’s about it.

Here we were at Christmas at a campground where everyone decorated (and indeed there was a contest), so I put some extra lights around on Christmas night. Aren’t we fancy?

Then there are the ubiquitous signs announcing RVers’ names and hometowns and favorite sports teams and predilections towards margaritas when it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

The only aspect of these that bothers me (there’s only one, you say?) is the blatant disregard of proper apostrophes. The Clarks live here, not the Clark’s (unless only Bob Clark is RVing) or the Clarks’.

I haven’t conducted a scientific investigation, but I’d guess 99% of apostrophes on these signs are incorrect.

(Or should I say sign’s? Shellys’ apostrophe meter need’s to be toned down.)

Decorations are a huge part of camping, of course. People unpack and set up potted plants, lawn ornaments, spinning wind decorations, and flags flags flags. In the Keys (below), the big trend is to collect fishing buoys and paint them, then string them together. There was actually a workshop on this at our campground. Should I have attended?

Here’s our one decoration. Finn and his dad bought it for Tracy and me when we were all camping at a music festival a few years ago, and I love it.

Plus it offsets the one item Tracy never fails to pull out first and place right in front of the trailer like a welcome sign: his bait bucket. I know why he does this—he uses it to wipe off bird poop and other debris from the trailer, and if it’s handy right there at the front then he’s more likely to use it. I threatened to buy him a bucket all one color that doesn’t have a bait ad on it, and he rebelled. So, my hanging stained glass thing is my attempt at balancing the bait bucket. Classy.


Weekend warriors come with the bed of their pickup trucks loaded with wood. They start a campfire the minute they park, no matter how stinking hot it is outside, and then keep it going all day and evening. First thing in the morning, you guessed it: start that fire! Don’t let it go out! Camping means a campfire!

We do actually make a fire, maybe once every two months. But then our clothes smell like smoke, and seeing as how we wash them only when we find a laundromat (I won’t confess how infrequently that is), we pay the olfactory price for weeks. If we happen to have all the ingredients for s’mores, though, it’s so worth it.

Mostly, on chilly nights we bring the propane firepit inside the tent and get surprisingly cozy. The only trick is making sure Banjo doesn’t light herself on fire; she loves to get warm up next to it.


You guessed it: weekend campers cook lots of meat on their grills, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it smells so good. We bought a small grill we can connect to the big propane tanks that are at the front of the Airstream, and it ain’t all that grand. But, when we’re near the water, we buy fresh fish for the grill, and, when we’re not, Tracy does a great job with whatever he finds at the grocery store.

Outside Fun

Where do I start with this? I guess with the easy stuff: what we do outside for fun.

You know we hike and bike and kayak. I walk really fast and jog a little and do embarrassing arm exercises while on the move (when I’m far in the woods and no one can see me). I also do yoga and more serious workouts in the tent, again when there are no neighbors three feet from me.

We bought a bocce set and used it often last summer in the UP of Michigan, but frankly we forget we have it in the back of the truck and haven’t used it much since.

I am fond of corn hole, but we can’t find a set that’s 1) portable, 2) regulation size, and 3) durable. Once we were to find it, we’d probably forget it’s in the back of the truck anyway.

The one time we did avail ourselves of typical campground games was in Bonita Springs, Florida, where we stayed at that 55+ RV park for a month and where it was just so danged easy to play horseshoes and corn hole and whatever else we felt like.

This photo is from the famous Retired Pentathlon games day, when Tracy won gold. He’s been retired about one month more than I’ve been, so maybe that gave him the edge.

Regular campers: they are here to partay. If there’s a lake, they’re in it in any kind of watercraft imaginable. They’re playing corn hole voraciously, plus that game with the little ladders that you throw ping pong balls at attached to strings. I’ve seen lawn darts, kiddie pools, a slip n slide. You name it: people will set it up at their campsite and party with it.

(More on that below in the Socializing section. I thought I’d break this up by complaining about ourselves for a bit first.)


Here’s something we fulltimers do that must seem strange to everyone else. If we have water at our campsite and there’s no rule against washing, you betcha we wash the Airstream. People must wonder why we came camping to wash our RV. No one’s pointed and laughed yet though. Yet.

We also tend to open the back of the truck and let it disgorge everything, then re-sort on the ground, work on various projects on the picnic table (Tracy just rerigged a portable solar panel), and then pack up again in some improved fashion.

We look a bit like the Clampetts in the 21st century when we do this. Other people decorate their campsite; we unpack everything we own.

And you can always spot fulltimers by how they flock to the rare on-campground laundry facilities.


Here’s what we usually do to socialize.

(Friends took this photo of us FaceTiming with them, and I can’t remember why I was making that face but they thought it was hilarious.). We meet those friends online Friday evenings, other friends for trivia online Thursday evenings, and I have weekly phone calls with Finn and various friends throughout the week. We are hanging on to our old friends because we love you.

Occasionally we do make new friends on the road, like this famous (on my blog) couple whom I first wrote about here. We’re getting better at being friendly post-vaccine, so I’m thinking we’ll have a little more in-person smiling in our future.

Weekenders come to camp to socialize. I know I’m an idiot for having to relearn this every month or so, but it was so startling to me when I first figured it out. These folks below I met at our first campground ever, and of course I stopped to talk with them because of their Airstream, which is as good a reason as any to approach strangers. They travel with a bar!

Folks socialize in a million ways at a campground. They:

  • park next to friends and eat, drink, sing, play games with them all weekend,
  • play games in the street (more on that below),
  • drive their golf carts to the dumpster, to the bathroom, to each other’s trailers, around and around the campground loop,
  • ride their bikes around and around the loop (and kids ride scooters, skateboards, basically anything that will make noise),
  • pull wagons filled with children and push strollers with dogs in them, and

parade their dogs around the campground loop several times a day.

Hey, you’re out among fellow campers, you like your dog, you’re looking for something to do and a reason to chat with other people, so of course you walk your dog around the loop five times in as many minutes! Oh hey, while you’re at it, hand your multiple dogs over to your small child who has no idea how to control them. Or get in your golf cart and run the dog along beside it. Or heck, just throw a ball for the dog in the street, off leash, just to piss Shelly off. (I know that’s why people do that.)


I sincerely did not mean to turn this into a gripefest. But up next:

People do have outdoor TVs, and they turn them on (usually to Fox news), turn them up, and walk away. Often.

This guy is actually a fulltimer, and he explained that he’d bought the projection screen for some fulltimers’ summit where he was going to present, so he wanted to try it out. And yes, that’s his portable hot tub in front of the screen. That night, despite being parked right next to a family in a pop-up camper (with screens for sides so they have to see and hear everything), he put on The Shining. Feet from their camper. Goes to show you that fulltimers don’t have as much sense as you’d think.

We’ll watch TV when it’s raining too hard to sit in the tent that night, but usually we’re outside reading, playing cards, playing our favorite board game, or having that online social time I mentioned above, which sometimes we do in the tent.

This is our exciting view of the TV at night. That’s about what it looks like, too.

Campsite Respect

I saw this “factoid” on a couple of forums for fulltimers, so it’s not just me.

The #1 aspect to camping most important to fulltimers is people respecting the boundaries of our campsite. Please don’t walk right next to our trailer, don’t lean on it to use our cell booster, don’t cut through our campsite on your bike, and for God’s sake don’t walk your dog across our site, because it makes Banjo nervous, and you don’t want to see Banjo when she’s nervous.

Our campsite is our space, like our lawn. Now get off our lawn!

At some campgrounds I’ve found that the very opposite is the campground culture. People are there to party, and the entire campground is their party place. It’s like a public park that other people happen to have tents and campers on.

It was at a campground where everyone acted this way that we were accused of not having a good “camping attitude.” We were pulling out of the campground and had to stop when we got to a family who was playing a throwing-type game in the road.

They stopped playing and looked at us. We stopped the truck and looked at them. A stare-off commenced, until one of the kids decided he would just start playing again. That’s when Tracy got out of the truck with a look on his face that I know means he’s going to kick some ass (maybe verbally, but still, Tracy’s verbal ass-kicking is fierce).

They moved the game, but as they were doing so, the mom yelled at me through the truck window that they had at least “stopped playing” and had left enough room for us to drive by. Well, I think it’s up to us to judge whether we have enough room not to run over their kids, right? Seriously, this lady thought I was the devil for asking her to move her game out of the road so we could drive by. We ruined their day, apparently, with our bad campground attitude.

Because partying comes first in a campground!

I do a lot of complaining, and most of it is because I think I’m funny. But look, aren’t weekend campers funny, too?

I can sum up my dislikes and likes plainly now that we’ve been on the road for about 15 months. I’m not tired of:

  • living with Tracy,
  • living in the Airstream,
  • moving often, or
  • not having a sticks and bricks home.

What I am tired of is campgrounds.

As we head west in a few weeks, we’ll be staying in fewer campgrounds and will be boondocking more often. No need to worry though, I’ll find something else to blog/semi-complain about. 🙂

PS: that top photo is from when Tracy and I were weekend warriors in the trailer we had before the Airstream. FIrst thing we used to do was set up bar so Tracy could make me his famous margaritas. I’m sure some fulltimer somewhere was making fun of us!