CONTRIBUTION · 24th May 2011
Maybe I was naÔve in thinking that most who enjoy the great outdoors are mostly respectful of the wilderness and clean up after themselves.
It was engrained in my brain at an early age to pack out what you pack in, but then again it didnít take much convincing for me since the sight of a stray piece of garbage on a trail makes me cringe. I have to pick it up and pack it back. I know it isnít mine, but I surely donít want it out there.
This May long weekend, my family and I packed up to go on a little adventure. We drove towards Terrace from Prince Rupert on Monday May 23, 2011 in hopes of exploring a new place that we could camp this summer. We found the forestry road to Exstew and turned in only to find the gate locked. We peeked around for a key but none was found. We called a friend who is quite knowledgeable about the area and he told us that they close the gate on the May long weekend to keep partiers out because it can get out of hand.
This should have been a red flag, but we decided to head to a forestry site called Red Sands instead. We turned down the road just before Kitskalum Tempo in Terrace and headed down the 26km on a dirt road towards the campsite. We heard that there were sites right on the beach and we were looking forward to setting up the camp chairs, getting a fire roasting, and eating some good old smokies in a bun. We passed about 8 or 9 campers heading home from the weekend along the road all looking pretty satisfied.
As we turned into the grounds and approached the campsites, instead of the lingering smell of morning campfires all I could smell was burning plastic (which produces hydrochloric acid and is toxic to breathe so please do not put anything plastic in your fires!).
Smoke filled the air and it seemed as though every fire pit was still burning, and they were burning leftover garbage. We cruised through the campground and the sights were absolutely revolting. Garbage lined the majority of the sites, tents were piled in a heap and abandoned, broken camp chairs were scattered everywhere and some were half sitting in the fire pits smouldering away.
Broken glass bottles and cans were everywhere, littered toilet paper surrounded each site, paper plates, plastic wrappers, and food remnants piled high. Some was in garbage bags, most of it was not. There were sleeping bags, foam mattresses, even an old rocking chair left behind. Who would leave this place in such a mess?
Every moment that passed my blood boiled more. I have been to a good bush party or two in my time, but I would never have left behind anything, and I certainly wouldnít have let my friends leave without taking their garbage with them and cleaning up the site. I believe in leaving your campsite better then you found it.
But this was not just a few pieces of trash left on the ground. By the time myself and another concerned citizen (who happened to be an RCMP officer) had made rounds to each site, the back of his pickup truck was over flowing with bags of garbage. He tucked one of the sleeping bags around the mound to keep it from falling out. We werenít able to fit anymore and there were still about 4 sites that we hadnít even been to.
So if you were at the campsite that I am talking about on the May long weekend, shame on you. How could you just drive away in the morning and feel okay with yourself?
Did you think that it wasnít your responsibility to clean up after yourself? Whose responsibility is it then, because I most certainly donít think it is fair to leave it for someone else after a weekend of reckless partying. If you know your kids were up there partying this weekend ask them how they could have left it in such a disaster.
There was a set of plastic cups that had a black space to write your name on it thrown around one of the worst sites. Sandra, Devin, and Shea were a few of the names that I found on the cups.
I donít know who they are, but these people had a part in this absolute neglect to take care of a space that is there for everyone to use. And it is really sad that they feel that it is okay to do something so awful, or not to speak up or take responsibility for their actions.
I am sad that we will probably never go to that site again. It really was beautiful once we cleared away what of the mess that we could. My kids played on the sandy beach and dipped their feet in the water and we enjoyed the afternoon. We packed up everything that we had brought with us back into our car and left the campsite better than we had left it.
Thank you James for helping me, I greatly appreciate it.
S. Bosco, Prince Rupert, BC
Comment by WILL on 9th June 2011
First of all I am embarrassed to say that i was at redsands 2 weeks ago and I witnessed the "mayhem" and "destruction" and everything else that can be described about that certain weekend.
It has been said before that the grads cannot be blamed for it and I totally agree with that. The last weekend was the actual grad campout at heart farm where there was about 100 people (about 75 grads)there partying. Instead of destruction of property, truckloads of garbage and teens falling drunk on the roads there was a respectful group that cleaned up and kept it relatively quiet and well behaved. Some will say that this was because of the almost dictator like police road block that stopped every vehicle and took all alcohol they could because of suspicion of distibuton to a minor, legal age or not. I don't believe so because beer and bottles all found their way in, one way or another. So maybe it had to do with the limited number of people that wouldn't come out because their alcohol would be confiscated. That's fine with me because my argument is that people that need to get "wasted" to come out camping are the ones that caused all the problems at redsands earlier. This is all good because it showed that the grads were all very respectful to the environment and know how to camp and party without causing large problems.
I find 2 things funny. One, how everyone was so quick to bash the grads and people like me who were out there and had graduated already about the garbage and how discusting and disrespectful we were, the 2nd is that there are no stories in the standard or on the daily or any other local news source that describes how the actual grad campout turned out. There was a forestry truck that pulled up and the officer (not sure his official title) walked around and even commented to us how there was "no piles of garbage scattered everywhere." Also there was a family that was there that had told some of the younger campers that they were there to report on all the drunk kids and all the garbage that was left behind. Where was this report? Is it worth reporting even if there is nothing negative to say? I guess not.
I just hope that next year at this time the police do the same thing at both the maylong weekend and grad campout so that the legitimate young and older campers can enjoy their time without being bashed by the media and people of the northwest as being disrespectful youth that have no regard for the pristine campsites around the beautiful northwest british columbia.
Comment by firstname.lastname@example.org on 31st May 2011
Could these people not be charged with being intoxicated in a puplic area?
Send up the paddywagon, charge and load the drunks up and throw them in the clink for the night. Do that once or twice and I think we would see a drastic reduction with all this mess.
These are public places, places where you should be able to take your family. If it is not safe to take your family, is it still public?
Comment by TKB on 27th May 2011
there is no mention of grads in this article...pls read and comment accordingly..it says the campsite was left is a disgusting mess...period...no fingers pointed except at campers
Comment by S.Bosco on 27th May 2011
Just to be clear...I did not know who was up at the campsite, just the mess that was left behind. it isn't fair to point blame at anyone unless you saw them there and know they were directly responsible. Sorry to the grad classes that are having fingers pointed at you...there are many responsible teens out there...they don't all as a whole deserve to be blamed for this. The people who did it know who they are. Just please be respectable next time!
Simple solution - what you pack in, you pack out!
Comment by love to camp on 26th May 2011
On behalf of our Prince Rupert camping group from, I would like to add that we cleaned up and hauled out ALL of our garbage and recycling from our camping area. Sorry to hear that others did not do the same. Perhaps a bit guilty of being a little loud at times, but all in good fun, and definitely respectful of the facility!
Comment by mother of teenagers on 26th May 2011
i seen the mess as we drove threw the campsite area on a drive to surprise the kids with donuts ........ twas gross just dont try take your dog for a walk!!!
but i see the same mess in the bushes at the airport following local drag racing events, just irresponsible laziness by people aged far from teenagers .
Enjoy your summer ! stay safe ! in beautiful B.C. [ careful where u step ]
I Was There
Comment by 234 on 26th May 2011
I was one of the people who were out there and i can say people should stop pointing ther fingers all at the Grads this year , many people who were out there were older then 18 and many were also from Prince Rupurt , yes some were younger but its not fair to many people to point fingers at all the teens. Our camp site were one of the few who did pick up the empties around the camp site and most of the garbage by the time i had left , my apologize to people who were disturbed by the the cauos and troubles we may have cause but please dont point fingers at just Everyone there or just us Terrace Teenagers , Thank you
Comment by Unknown on 26th May 2011
I would like to ask... why are you blaming cal grad 2011 kids? Just because its a week before grad.. That gives no right to blame them/us.
stop blaming Grad 2011 students
Comment by Grad Student on 26th May 2011
i love how everyone points their fingers at the Grad Students, I was at Red Sand on Friday and left right away the next morning because there were so many drunks, (which is what i did expect so i was not surprised at all) there wasnt even many grad students out there, it was mainly people 19 and older. People should not be putting the blame on Grad 2011 and pretty much saying we dont even deserve a Dry Grad. I really hate to see how there was a big mess and people left their garbage everywhere, but please stop pointing fingers at the grad class of 2011 weve also worked hard raising money for dry grad by having an almost full house at the Fashion Show this year with only 40 empty seats which made history, so it does show that we dont sit around and get drunk all day and night.. but shame on the people who did this, it wasnt just terrace people out there, so why are we the ones getting the blame?
Comment by steve smyth on 26th May 2011
That I said "IF this is the Class of 2011"
If it was NOT, then good for them, and i mean that sincerely.
Regardless, from the other comments it seems like it was mainly rowdy late teens from Prince Rupert importing this idiocy. Wonder why more people weren't arrested -last i looked being drunk, loud and stupid in a public place was still an offense.
Not all participants were grads
Comment by Parent of Grad on 26th May 2011
It should go without saying that these were not all grads - I am the parent of a grad - who along with many others were not there. The fact is the range of campers was closer to 18-22. Please be careful about refering to the Cal Grads of 2011 as you're incorrect and that is quite inflammatory. As far as the Dry Grad -this is an opportunity for many grads who don't participate in the s0 called grad parties to celebrate safely without encountering these groups that use "grad" (usually not their own by the way) to excuse their horrible behaviour
Comment by Steve Smyth on 25th May 2011
...Is what makes me shake my head when i see all the effort and work the parents put into the "dry grad" in order to keep the kids safe.
No wonder they can go Grad night without drinking, they're all worn out from the Pre Grad parties and trashing the camp sites
Pretty sad behaviour from this group. I would hope they would step up after seeing this and make it right, or maybe they'll just wait for their parents to do it like everything else.
If this is the Cal class of 2011, shame on you from past Cal grad classes who used to "party at Red Sand" but had the sense and "class" to clean up after ourselves.
Make it right guys, earn the respect back.
People or Pigs
Comment by Jo-Anne on 25th May 2011
People clean up your garbage..what you take in you take out. It is worse on May-long but is continual problem every where. We have picked up broken beer bottles where kids play, broken camping gear at many of the fishing holes along the Kalum River. 3km on the West Kalum seems to be the dump site of alot of peoples garbage. This stuff does not break down and may cause harm to wildlife and humans alike. Pigs I'd say!!!
A beautiful Place
Comment by S.Bosco on 25th May 2011
Many people do care for this place and it is very much appreciated! It sounds like it is a place that is near and dear to many...and since writing this article many have told me how they camp there and it is not always this way. So please do not think that it isn't a great place to camp. The articles intention was to raise awareness to the fact that this happens and because the caretakers (and other citizens)clean it up every time you may never know how bad it is. It was harsh to say that we would never come back, because i know that many of our friends enjoy their time there.
I will most definitely give it another chance, and my hope is simply that next year it will be better or stop completely.
Comment by Joe Bevan on 25th May 2011
Hello, we do the clean up on the forestry camp sites from Extew to Lakelse Lake
Unfortunately this is the norm on the May Long Weekend at these sites...our guys pack out everyone's garbage every year...but after the May Long Weekend things simmer down and there are not too many partiers afterwards...
We would like to keep these sites as family oriented sites but they are open to the general public...and things do get better as summer rolls along...
One thing to keep in mind is that with tight government budgets there is not a lot of money to fix these sites if anything gets broken...it's everyone's job to keep these sites in good condition in order to keep them open and in good condition for the next guy...imagine if the government shut them all down??? Where would we go???
Comment by Linda on 25th May 2011
It saddens me to no end that this is happening. I've lived here my whole live and have enjoyed many great times at Red Sand and the Hart Farm, infact my grandfather was one of the final caretakers of the Hart Farm and often had school classes spend weekends there where children played in a CLEAN happy environment for many yrs. The bunkhouses which stand no more were cared for with pride and the area's around were RESPECTED. Everyone cleaned up after themselves, it wasn't hard, and yes, there were plenty of parties, they were cleaned up also. Red Sand is also somewhere I and my children spent lots of time enjoying, and how dare these kids make it look like a war zone...party if you must, but have some damn respect and clean up after yourselves!
To the guys who cleaned up after these moronic disrespecful idiots, I commend you, thank you so much for caring enough about the area to do so.
Comment by J on 25th May 2011
I, too, visited the Red sand campsite, on Saturday for a weiner roast.......I was surprised to see the amount of young people, maybe late teens to early twenties......drinking and ripping around on atv's and quads, unsupervised....of course
Arrogance at the heart of it
Comment by c. sandecki on 25th May 2011
Sorry you had such a dismal weekend at Red Sands.
I, too, met a man with no respect for his community or its efforts to provide ball players with a safe, smooth ballfield.
He was watching his 6-year-old son roar around Copper Mountain's lower ball field on a little ATV while his wife, with a younger child sitting in front of her, drove back and forth on a second ATV. On the upper field, a teenager flew around on a third ATV.
Only the 6-year-old wore a helmet. I'll bet none of the machines were insured. And they sure as hell had no business driving on the ball field.
I told him so.
He said, "I don't see any signs. And the kids are having fun. They're not hurting anything."
I tried to convince him signs or no signs, he was breaking the law, and though his ATV's might not be tearing up the ball field, someone else might see what was going on and take that as permission to do likewise, with catastrophic results for the fields.
"But you don't care?" I said.
"Nope", he said.
"So you're going to continue driving on this ball field?" I said.
By then I was too angry to say much more beyond, "You probably couldn't read a sign if there was one." A petulant comeback, I realize, but I was too upset to do better.
The ATV noise quit soon after I walked away. I'm hoping someone phoned 911 and RCMP responded.
Comment by beth and T-Jay on 25th May 2011
we had come out on monday also picked up some of the garbage that was left laying around. i was also just uterly disgusted with this. its too bad people dont have the same respect of the outdoors. if you bring in the garbage take it with you......
Comment by K. Boult on 25th May 2011
My husband and I also drove to Red Sand on the weekend to visit some friends camping there. We were absolutely disgusted at the first few sites. We couldn't believe our eyes.
Word is, it was a grad campout from Prince Rupert, but that's still no excuse for the mess that was left.
Redsand is the type of place which is enjoyable for everyone. We have so many great memories there, and we certainly ALWAYS clean up after ourselves. I hope these kids learn to have some respect, as I know it couldn't have been a completely enjoyable experience for others camping who were not involved in this mess. Also, thank you for cleaning u p...your fellow campers appreciate it.
CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!!!
Comment by disturbed camper on 25th May 2011
Thank you for cleaning up... it is very disappointing that some people can not clean up what they made. If it was like that when they got there.. they wouldnt of stayed there cause they would of had to clean up... its just disappointing that people would do such. ITs camping season and Ibrianabriana was thinking of going out that way also.. but maybe i will have to try somewhere else.. (i may see the same thing though too) hope not!! THANKS AGAIN...
Comment by Barry English on 25th May 2011
This was disgusting. Red Sand Lake is, or was, a beautiful place. To see this kind of mess left behind is ridiculous. If it is at all possible, I would like to go through that garbage and publish the complete names of anyone that can be identified.