An open letter to people who still say ‘Happy Camper’ |

An open letter to people who still say ‘Happy Camper’

Barry Smith

To Whom It May Concern,

“Happy Camper” has lived a full, rich life, and it’s time to let it pass with dignity.

This once cute quip is no longer unique. There is, at this point, not a single person on the planet who has not heard this expression at least once, which is plenty. It has been translated into every known language, even the languages of people who have no word for “camper,” as they live in huts in the jungle, and the concept of going “camping” is meaningless to them. They ARE camping, permanently. And they are happy, we can assume. They are happy because they don’t have people in their lives saying, “Let me tell you, I was NOT a happy camper!”

Sure, you’ll miss it at first, but keep this in mind: If you say to someone, “I was not a happy camper,” you are not conveying any more information than if you merely say, “I was not happy.”

You’ll try to find loopholes; I know you will. Because change is a hard thing. There will be times when you are so morbidly unhappy that you’ll feel the need to add “camper” to your description, thinking that this is really the only way to convey the depths of your misery, as we all know that unhappiness while camping is the worst unhappiness there is.

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But listen to me – even if you survived a plane crash in the Andes and were forced to resort to cannibalism (true unhappiness…no one would argue that) – that STILL doesn’t count as camping, I don’t care if you did have to use the bodies of the crew to form a makeshift lean-to – you do not get to say that you were “not a happy camper.” You were merely not at all happy. I know what you are thinking: “But what if I am ACTUALLY camping?”

Fair question. Because conversely, there is nothing quite like the happiness one experiences when camping is going well.

But consider this for a moment: Imagine you’ve hiked all day with friends, found the perfect site for your tents, just finished eating a delicious camp meal and are now settling back in your portable camp chair next to the campfire sipping something wonderful from your camping flask. No one is going to argue with you about whether or not you are, at that moment, a “camper.”

But suppose, at that blissful moment, you make the following announcement: “Boy, I sure am a Happy Camper!”

Your friends, if they are kind, will merely look at the ground, embarrassed for you, making mental notes to never invite you anywhere again.

But if they’re REAL friends, they will hold an intervention right then and there, taking turns explaining how your use of the “Happy Camper” expression has ruined their trip, if not their lives. They will take flaming sticks from the fire and use them to hold you at bay while reading this letter aloud. And when the burns have healed, you’ll thank them for it.

If you really have a need to express extreme happiness, please do us all a favor and use profanity. That’s why it was created. Say that you were f—ing happy, just don’t say “Happy Camper.”

Ever again.



Rest of the world.

(Next Time: An Open Letter To People Who Still Call Me “The Barrymeister.”)

Contact Barry Smith at or visit his Web page at

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