The Happy Camper

When we think of the idiom “happy camper” we can’t help but connect it with the RV lifestyle. But first, for those who are scratching their head over the word “idiom”, allow us to explain. An idiomatic expression —an idiom— is a type of informal language that has meaning for those who use it. And with repetition of the idiom over time, that meaning often changes! 

If someone told you to “hold your tongue” you would not open your mouth and wrap your fingers the best you could around it. Nope. Instead, you’d not say what you were about to say or wanted to say. We hold our tongue when we want to say something but know better.

One story about the origination of the idiom “happy camper” suggests that it started somewhere in the 1800s when kids started to go off to summer camps. Kids that were miserable and unable to separate themselves from their parents, hung on to anything stationary to prevent themselves from being dragged into the buggy for the short ride to the campsite where they would sleep under the stars and cook over an open fire. The camp counselors referred to these kids as “not a happy camper.” We couldn’t agree that kids living in the 1800s needed to get away from the TV during summer break, so we moved on to a more probable explanation.

According to another source, the phrase “happy camper” originates from the quote, “not a happy camper” used in the resort industry and National Park Service around 1986 in Yosemite National Park by employees of the Yosemite Park and Curry Company.

Dan Quayle, former Vice President of the United States is reported to have once said, “You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.”

According to the Dictionary of American Slang the phrase originated in California with movie and show business folks referring to kids hating to go to summer camp while their parents worked.

Regardless of its source, the expression today is widely used to describe a happy and contented person whether he is on a camping trip or not. We hope that all our guests at Floridays RV Park are happy campers, and we work diligently to assure that the expression “I’m a happy camper” can be heard loud and clear.