our boss told us to camp in tents when we travel for business

A reader writes:

I started on staff at a small environmental/conservation nonprofit. My coworkers and I are PR, fundraising, and outreach staff. All of us are brand new due to turnover. Today we received an email from our boss that says:

“When we are traveling for work, we try, when possible, to stay at a state park — cabins in the winter, camping ‘normally’ in the summer since most cabins are booked for a week. The state agency responsible for camping fees provides us a waiver so that we stay for free. Print this waiver.”

(By camping “normally” in summer, she means outdoors in a tent. Although she has a camper and uses that herself when camping).

We are affiliated with a state environmental agency and although I can’t swear, because I haven’t looked into it, I don’t believe the governor requires state employees on travel to camp.

I know at least one of my new coworkers feels as I do — we’re not going to camp alone in a park in a tent.

I can’t believe this. Advice?!?!

P.S. Even if we book a cabin (which have limited availability), we’d have to take bedding, etc. And our boss has previously told us that many of the state cabins have bed bug problems.

What.

Noooo.

It’s absolutely not reasonable to expect people traveling for work to camp rather than having standard business lodgings.

I get that you’re an environmental group. It’s still not reasonable.

You need to show up for business meetings rested, washed, and productive — which an awful lot of people would not be after sleeping in a tent.

Even plenty of experienced campers wouldn’t want to camp the night before work meetings. And beyond that, plenty of people — including even some environmentalists — don’t like camping. Or they want to do it once a year, with friends. And alcohol.

And then there are people with medical needs that make camping impractical or impossible.

This would be bad enough if it were some once-a-year, misguided team-building event for your whole staff. But as your routine lodgings for regular business trips?! It’s wildly unreasonable and out of sync with any business norm.

If your boss enjoys doing camping on business travel herself, that’s fine. But it’s not okay for her to impose it on others.

If the organization can’t afford to pay for hotel rooms, then it can’t afford to send employees on work trips, period. Just like if it couldn’t afford the airfare or train ticket, it wouldn’t be okay to suggest you hitchhike.

Say this to your boss: “Can you clarify the travel policy? You mentioned camping, but that’s not something I’d be able to do for a business trip. My plan is to book affordable hotels instead.” If she holds firm, feel free to say, “It’s really not an option for me and I’ll need to stay in hotels. I’ll of course make sure to choose budget options.” If you want, feel free to say, “There are lots of reasons why people wouldn’t be able to camp — including health concerns that people shouldn’t have to disclose in order to get standard business accommodations.”

Even better, get a group of your coworkers to push back and say “no, this won’t work for us.” There’s power in numbers.

Tents! It’s ridiculous.

{ 729 comments… read them below }

      1. Observer*

        Unless everyone quite en masse and explained why they are quitting, not necessarily.

        Also, I’d be that this is the tip of an iceberg of dysfunctionality. Look at how many letters we’ve seen on the site where the letter writer is asking about one strange thing, and then follows up with something that is straight up jaw dropping.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yup. Something like this is just indicative of bad judgment o the part of management, which is almost never contained to one aspect of the job. This is just the tip of the WTFery.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Maybe this will turn out to be the same place that wanted everyone to use a green car to the point where they didn’t want the employee to have the car that they needed to move their mobility-challenge family member around.

            Wonder what ever happened with them….

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              When was that? Don’t think I saw this one, though I did see something urging public transportation, if that’s what you mean?

              1. Maria Lopez*

                No, the OP had a van for his or her brother with cerebral palsy, I think, and needed the van for the electric wheelchair or scooter. Even knowing this, TPTB were still insisting OP get rid of the van.

        2. DarnTheMan*

          Even if they quit and explain in precise detail why, there’s some bad bosses who’ll delude themselves into thinking it was something else entirely. Case in point, my last super dysfunctional workplace, one of the staff who pre-dated me quit and sent the two owners a two page email detailing everything they’d done to make the workplace super dysfunctional, down to specific instances. The owners still managed to convince themselves they’d done nothing wrong at all and that the ex-staffer had just “found a better opportunity.”

    1. Captain Facepalm*

      Inorite? Such a mystery.
      On a more serious note, if your boss can’t afford to let employees travel, maybe consider the wonderful alternative of NOT TRAVELLING. Lots of things can be done online these days – meetings, marketing…etc.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Truth.

          Genuinely, I’d be curious about the tradeoff for camping vs hotel too, independent of transportation. I mean, honestly, is it more environmentally friendly to make everyone buy their own individual camping gear including plastic tents, plastic sleeping pads, plastic sleeping bags, battery powered plastic lamps, etc etc etc… or to stay in a hotel where the sheets are reused thousands of times?

          1. Jackalope*

            Not to mention the fact that unless there happens to be a campground near the business meeting, you’re going to be burning up a lot of gas going back and forth. Not environmentally friendly and also more expensive.

            1. Gidget*

              Yeah, this is what I was thinking. Like how many campsites are that close to where the meeting is actually happening? Like imagine if your meeting was in a city of any size or with suburbs. You’d probably have to go at least 45 minutes away to find a campground. So bizarre.

            2. LunaLena*

              Playing devil’s advocate here, but since it’s a environmental/conservation non-profit, I’m guessing most of their clients ARE state parks or associated groups. And perhaps the group does consulting work with parks to make them more eco-friendly or something, so it makes sense for them to spend a night on the grounds. But even then, one would think it would be a recommended option, not mandatory.

              1. Iris Eyes*

                If all of the business activities are in an outdoor setting and/or at the state parks then I could see especially a case for using the cabins even though most of the one’s I’ve seen don’t have running water. But tent or hammock or other forms of camping should at best allowed but I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend.

                1. Vicky Austin*

                  There’s at least one state park in Maryland that has cabins with electricity and a full kitchen and a full bathroom.

              2. boo bot*

                I thought about that, but I also figured that if there were a direct connection to the parks the OP would have mentioned it. Either way, as you say, it should still be an option, not a requirement.

                Especially because apparently the cabins have BEDBUGS! It’s not more acceptable to make people stay in a bedbug-infested place just because they’re camping: bedbugs – unlike mosquitoes, bears, scorpions, and spiders – are not normal hazards of camping.

                1. Veronica Mars*

                  I’d sleep in a tent before I slept in those cabins for sure. I’ve seen a few and they really are not a step up.

                  Also, I just caught that the tent’s are for ‘off-season’ and now I’m newly horrified. I assume that means they have to camp in tents once temperatures dip below what normal humans who actually enjoy camping deign enjoyable?? Like, what????

                2. Lisa*

                  Veronica, it looks like the tents are for summer: ” cabins in the winter, camping ‘normally’ in the summer” not that it makes it ok…

                3. Vicky Austin*

                  I don’t know what state OP is in, but my husband and I stayed in a cabin in a state park in Maryland in the summer of 2016, and there were no bedbugs.

          2. 3DogNight*

            Where exactly does one camp when going to a place like Dallas, San Francisco, LA, Boston, Las Vegas or NYC? I can’t imagine that there are state park camping facilities anywhere near where you would have your meetings.
            Second, how do the people you are meeting with feel about their guests camping to save money? I would be horrified!

            1. PlainJane*

              I once camped in a San Francisco KoA. It was a parking lot, and all I remember (I was 13) was that it was FREEZING and uncomfortable, and I can’t imagine tents would work (we had a trailer).

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Sure, but if someone is taking a train or plane to Dallas for a conference, they’d have to rent a car to stay there — which they wouldn’t if the only transportation need was to&from the hotel at start&end of trip. .

                1. Happy Lurker*

                  Here is my expense report with $XXXX in extra bag fees for the camping supplies I had to bring with me and the extra large SUV I needed to rent to transport it all.

                2. Third or Nothing!*

                  Yep, they sure would. Our public transportation is terrible.

                  Just wanted to mention it because DFW is frequently seen as this huge sprawling metropolis, and it is, but there is also a lot of green space and random un-utilized acreage left to grow wild and natural wildlife preserves and big sprawling city parks with their own little campgrounds. Heck on my drive home (not in a suburb) I go down a 6 lane road and don’t see a building for like 3 miles. Trees, trees, trees. It’s glorious.

                  Man now I want to go hiking again.

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  If you like trails we have some gorgeous ones down in Glen Rose at Dinosaur Valley State Park, about 30-ish minutes from Fort Worth. You can see real dinosaur footprint fossils in the creek bed!! They only have primitive camping there just FYI.

                  I also really like Cedar Ridge Preserve but there is no camping there. It’s super close to Cedar Hill State Park though!

            2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

              There actually is a campground inside SF (Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio) but it’s really expensive for a campground and also booked far in advance. So not feasible logistically, on top of being unreasonable for all previously stated reasons!

            3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

              There is a state park in the middle of downtown Indianapolis (White River State Park) but it doesn’t look like there are camping facilities on-site.

            4. nstar73*

              Putting aside that this is a really ridiculous request, I cannot believe that driving and RV to a site far enough away to require overnight travel is at all environmentally responsible.

            5. anycat*

              …Dolores park? ;)

              Kidding aside.. don’t a lot of larger state/national parks have hotels nearby or in it? I know Yosemite has the hotel formerly known as the Ahwanee.

            6. Geek history*

              There are oddly a fair number of palaces to camp in dallas due to the nature of dallas. Not that it makes the suggestion to camp on business trips okay.

    2. The Original K.*

      RIGHT? My first response to being asked to camp for business travel would be to refuse, and my second (the same day, at home) would be to dust up my resume and start looking. This is bananas.

      1. Annony*

        Yep. I would be willing to be fired over this. I DO NOT like camping. At all. And who provides the camping gear? Is everyone expected to buy a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and all those other things. That stuff is expensive!

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Not to mention, non-environmentally friendly (its virtually all made out of plastic and batteries) if its something you’re only buying for the work occasion.

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          I’m sure I’m in the absolutely minuscule minority that wouldn’t mind this- I always feel more refreshed while camping- but that stuff is seriously expensive. For recreational camping, we bought the absolutely cheapest stuff that we could, still don’t have everything we’d have ideally, and easily spent no less than $300 between our tent, sleeping bags, sleep mats, camp stove, utensils, plates, cups… That’s just a Not Okay amount of money to require your employees to spend.

          1. LSP*

            My husband isn’t a camper, but bought some stuff for a friend’s bachelor party years ago. He easily spent over $200 for a sleeping bag, 1-person tent and a cheap sleeping pad.

            If he ever worked at a place who tried to make him camp for travel, he would either refuse to travel or just quit.

            1. Lady Russell's Turban*

              Your husband bought a ONE-PERSON tent and, presumably, one single-person sleeping bag for a bachelor party? While a very generous gift, it’s kind of funny as a gift for someone about to get married. :)

                1. The Original K.*

                  That was my interpretation too – that the bachelor party itself was a camping trip and LSP’s husband needed gear to participate.

          2. elescissorhands*

            Not to mention the time and labor involved in setting up and tearing down a campsite all by yourself.

          3. Jadelyn*

            I love camping too, and I miss it – but you know why I miss it? Because I used to have access to camping gear through well-off family members, and don’t anymore, and I haven’t been able to afford my own entire setup. Tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear, lamps/flashlights, etc.

            That said, even though I love camping, I certainly wouldn’t look particularly professional at a business meeting the next day. Hard to wash and style hair, apply makeup, have professional clothes that look neat and not wrinkled, when you’re camping.

            1. DrRat*

              This was my thought…nothing says “Professional appearance” like showing up in rumpled clothes, with pine needles in your hair, smelling like Deep Woods Off. I camped out the night before a concert years ago and it was so cold we all had to sleep with our clothes in our sleeping bags to avoid having our clothes freeze stiff. The next day, we looked like paper does when you wad it up and try to smooth it out. I can’t imagine showing up in any work meeting, with anyone, looking like that.

              1. The New Wanderer*

                Anytime we come home from camping we all reek of campfire smoke. I don’t mind camping (once a year) but not for work. Hard no.

              2. F as in Frank*

                This reminded me of a story I heard Arlene Dickinson tell. She was traveling with her business partners and did not have any money so they borrowed a boat and anchored it offshore from Vancouver. In her words:

                “The trio stayed up all night on the boat preparing for the big presentation in front of 1,200 hairdressers the following day. Upon exiting the shower, Dickinson went to use her hair dryer only to find there was no power. After an intense period of yelling and screaming with a frizzy, soaked head, the partners told her to simply put her hair in a little poof-ball on the top of her head and be done with it.

                “I looked like Little Orphan Annie,” Dickinson chortles. Here she was, about ready to speak to a huge room of hairdressers, all the while having her own hair discombobulated in a knotted little poof-ball. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, she was informed that they’d be making the final part of the trip to shore on a small dinghy, because of course there was no money to dock the boat. Dickinson sat at the front of the tiny boat and by the time they’d reached shore she was soaked from head to toe, looking like a drowned poodle.

                “We pull up to the dock where Bob is standing,” she explains. “He helps me up onto the dock and looks me up and down and says ‘we don’t have time to fix that.’”

                I’ll include the link to full story in a reply.

          4. Arts Akimbo*

            Yes, this!! In camping, you trade $$ for lightweight, $$ for warmth, $$ for windproof, $$ for waterproof. If you cheap out on gear, you *will* pay for it in at least one of these categories.

            On comfortable tent camping, where I would be expected to give a business presentation the next day? I would anticipate all of my gear would cost at least $600, depending on time of year for being outdoors. (Then again, it’s winter here and I’m cold, so maybe I’m overestimating a tad on the sleeping bag ;) …But if it’s the summer, you’d need a shower and other hot weather provisions.)

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I used to like camping, but with a group of friends/family, and, for lack of a better term, recreationally! Not on a business trip. You’ve got to bring a cooler with the food and the water/beverages, you have to cook whatever food you have brought. Set up a tent, inflate your mattress, deflate your mattress. To be honest, I’ve never done these tasks on my own. I always had family members help me. Also, after throwing my back out two years ago, I don’t think I’d be able to sleep on an inflatable mattress anymore to begin with. And the communal showers just do not cut it in terms of getting oneself looking presentable as one would on a business trip. Such a bizarre requirement.

          I also love the use of “we” when the boss herself does not “camp normally” (to use her words).

          1. Veronica Mars*

            Thats true. Just the basic survival requirements of one’s days are so much less convenient when camping, that its basically a full time job.
            Making dinner over an open fire and then washing dishes in a tub is bad enough when I’ve spent my leisure hours drinking down by the river. But coming back from work, probably after its dark out, to then begin all those chores? Eugh.

          2. Glitsy Gus*

            Yes to all that. Add in that most business trips require at least laptops, phones and other devices that need charging and extra security. That zipper on your tent isn’t going to be of much use keeping your laptop safe while you’re in the communal shower half a mile away.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              This is a really good point!

              At an OldJob, we all got an email reminding us that we were responsible for the safety of our work equipment outside of work, after my boss’s car was broken into and his work laptop stolen out of the car, while he was at a restaurant for dinner and his car was parked in front of the restaurant. Can you imagine how quickly OP’s boss will tell an employee it is their fault that their laptop was stolen out of their tent?

            2. DrRat*

              Better than “my dog ate my homework” – “Sorry I don’t have my presentation available. A bear took my laptop.”

        4. emmelemm*

          Yeah. I don’t camp for fun, I ain’t camping for you. No way, no how. Plus – in a TENT? So, you’re definitely not gonna get any work done in the evening, because you don’t have an outlet to plug your laptop into. (I assume campgrounds have wi-fi these days, but you could only use your laptop until it runs down, and then you couldn’t recharge it for the next day. What the heck is that??!)

        5. Artemesia*

          And if you don’t buy your own, it is gross. A sleeping bag is not something you want to share. And you can’t possibly show up clean, fresh, well groomed for whatever the work trip entails. There are cabins that have plumbing and kitchens and would be plausible but tents? or platform tents? or bare bones cabins without plumbing? no way. And I am an old backpacker.

          1. unlurking*

            And these cabins that they’re talking at most parks about do not have plumbing, and do not have kitchens – plumbing / bathrooms / showers is in a shared facility, and usually no kitchens at all, you cook by fire / bbq.

        6. babblemouth*

          I love camping, I’m widely known in my workplace as the resident eco-warrior, and I would still not want any part of this. If nothing else, I need a place in the evening where I can do some work and charge my phone, and that’s not going to happen in a tent.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Oh man, I’d pay actual money to see an interviewer’s reaction to this particular answer to “why did you leave your last job?”

        1. RC Rascal*

          The problem with this situation is the truth is so bats it will hijack the interview & distract for OPs candidacy.

      3. Creed Bratton*

        Shhh, don’t let my bosses think this is an option!
        In all seriousness the OP works for a boss or organization that is hiding their attempt to save money under the guise of environmental concern. None of this makes sense.

      4. Clisby*

        I agree with one of my friends who said her idea of roughing it was staying in a Holiday Inn without *quite* enough towels.

    3. ShwaMan*

      Well, she did say “we try, when possible…” which is plenty of good reason to simply ignore this memo.

      (It’s not possible for me to camp, so I booked a hotel…)

    4. Dr Rat*

      OP, just as a reminder, at your next job interview (which will be soon), a good question to ask is: “Why is EVERY SINGLE FREAKING POSITION at this non profit open?” If the entire previous staff quit en masse, it’s never a good sign. Seriously, I learned a long time ago when I got the “walk around the office” to ask people how long they have been there. If almost everyone you talk to has been there a short time, don’t take the job. A lesson I learned the hard way.

    5. Sandangel*

      “I don’t know why I keep losing staff every time we plan business travel! I thought they’d like being close to nature with limited plumbing and potential vicinity to bears! Such bad attitudes!” /s

  1. Czhorat*

    “”If the organization can’t afford to pay for hotel rooms, then it can’t afford to send employees on work trips, period. Just like if it couldn’t afford the airfare or train ticket, it wouldn’t be okay to suggest you hitchhike.””

    DON’T GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS.

    I get frugality, but… yeah. This is madness. One thing I’ve learned from AAM is that there are LOTS of messed up workplaces in the nonprofit realm.

    1. Just J.*

      Seriously!

      I am trying to think of the nearest state campground to me and the town I work in. It’s at least 45 minutes away. There is an environmental impact to the added driving too.

      I can’t even imagine the proximity of state campgrounds to major cities.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        My nearest state park only has bivouac camping (not an established campground, must be self-contained, i.e. bring your own water, etc.). The next-closest one has more standard camping, I believe, but neither of these are super close to where you would hold any kind of business meeting, so yeah, lots of wasted gas getting back and forth. Both are beautiful locations, and the first is world-class rock climbing, but neither intends to be used for BUSINESS travel. Sheesh.

      2. Librarian1*

        Right? I really wonder where these people are travelling to. If any of it is to a major city, the nearest campgrounds will be far away. They also won’t be accessible by public transit, so the employees will have to drive, which is bad for the environment.

      3. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Right. *State* campground so they can get it for free, so no staying at a KOA, right? They can do a hotel then, right? The boss did say “when possible.” In summer, the provincial parks (Ontario) fill up quickly and you need to book them months in advance – like January – even in tents.

        There is a private campground in my city (it’s a hidden gem) but not state-owned and therefore not free. The nearest provincial park, to compare, is indeed 40 minutes away.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          Right. “When possible” = never. Never ever. Fifty years after never ever.

          This is bananapants crazytown. This would let me know that these are not my people and this is not my job. That would be true even if I liked camping, and even if I were not a person who only goes outside to get between insides. Which I am.

          I had a frustrating week with my boss and colleagues last week, and I stomped around grumbling a lot this weekend, but it has put things in perspective that at least they aren’t trying to force me to go camping.

      4. Shhhh*

        I live and work in a rural college town and it still would take at least a half hour to get to the nearest state campground, so.

      5. But There is a Me in Team*

        We have 2 or 3 state parks in our metro area, but they draw boozy car campers (lots of police calls on weekends) and a not insubstantial number of folks who are living in their cars/down on their luck. In addition to all the great points others have made, ain’t no way, as a woman, I’m sleeping out there in a tent by myself. Good time to look up the state park sex assault stats and link them in an email saying ” This isn’t a safe option for women and I’ll be booking a hotel.”

    2. Bostonian*

      Yeah, don’t give them any ideas!

      In addition, one thing I’ve learned here is the breadth of cheapness that’s out there: from the super petty reprimanding for buying extra guac to the completely looney staying in tents for work travel.

    3. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’ve been thinking about a cause-based career move, and working for NPOs crossed my mind. But I’ve heard too many stories like this from people I know in NPOs, and don’t think I could keep my big mouth shut.

      1. nonprofit writer*

        Not all nonprofits are like that! I worked at one for many years and there was never any nonsense like this. Mine was a larger organization with a bigger budget–which of course isn’t the only thing to look for and doesn’t guarantee a good working environment, but it can make a difference if you are leery of making the switch. Nonprofit work does not automatically equal deprivation. We had excellent benefits, good salaries, normal travel and per diem allowances, etc.

        1. Kylroy*

          I think the important detail in your story is “larger organization with a bigger budget” – when they can frame every penny saved as going to starving orphans/koalas/what have you, the organization is a lot less likely to chisel from your benefits when they’re already contributing tens of millions to the cause.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Thank you – I know you’re right! But I’ve had some heartfelt discussions with friends and people I know in NPOs, and they all have similar stories. It’s been discouraging enough that I haven’t begun a search yet. If I do, I would have to find the right leadership team and work environment, just like I have in my past roles.

          I appreciate your comment, it helps!

      2. Shark Whisperer*

        You really just have to ask a lot of questions in the interview. I have worked at NPOs my whole career. My current employer is tiny (8 staff members!), but they are excellent about travel. Real hotels, ability to make adult decision about air travel (i.e. not just choose the cheapest option no matter what), generous per diems.

        I straight up asked the CEO in the interview about dysfunction being common in small NPOs and how he combats that, and he had a well thought out answer. (One of the things is that every staff person gets face time with the board on a regular basis and are encouraged to build relationships with the board members.)

        1. ACDC*

          This is a great point. I worked at a small NPO (also 8 employees) at my 2nd job out of college. I was still pretty inexperienced and definitely didn’t know how to spot red flags in interviews or ask the right questions. I am now a more evolved version of myself that knows if the #1 and #2 ranking people at the NPO are husband and wife, you should run far, far away.

          1. Raving Lunatic*

            I’ve worked at two different NPOs led by a husband & wife combo. The first was a hot mess of dysfunction. With the added joy of religious discrimination in which days counted as paid holidays. Jewish staff, which was solely the married co-directors and their one good friend on staff got Hannukah as a paid holiday. All 8 days. Everyone else got standard Christian holidays. It was still 13 paid holidays a year for non-Jewish staff, which is really quite good, but, the Jewish staff got all of those days, too.

            The second one was a great place. I’m not saying there weren’t issues, but those issues were not at all related to the husband & wife team running it. More the overall culture of embracing things like astrology as a consideration for business decisions. For example, never buy office furniture when Mercury is in retrograde. Is a conversation I once had. Apparently it’s better to just not have enough chairs to go around.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Did they schedule shifts by matching coworkers based on their zodiac signs? I had a manager who did that (not sure if she made any sort of adjustments for Mercury retrograde). She made me work an overnight shift by myself once (against policy) because the person I was supposed to work with called out sick and the only other person she could call in to cover had an incompatible sign for her purposes (“You can’t work overnight with Dave, he’s a Pisces! I don’t want you getting pregnant!” So I don’t even know Dave but thanks for looking out for me, Cleo, v helpful. O_o).

      3. Design Dork*

        If you’re not loving the idea of moving to an NPO but still want a cause-based career check out B Corporations instead!

      4. Smithy*

        Nonprofits can certainly have their problems – but they’re usually the same kind of management problems you’d see in most workplaces. Issues around being family run, issues around being founder run, issues around being very small, issues around being very big, issues around not investing in management, bad HR, no HR, unreliable cash flow, etc etc etc.

        The big difference with nonprofits is that a lot of time the mission will be used as a reason to justify questionable workplace behavior. With travel this can often translate with “in order to save money for our critical work we ask that you: take the cheapest flight possible regardless of airline or length of travel/have a roommate/stay in dubious accommodations/etc.” That being said, it can be critical to essentially not let your own commitment to work for X cause derail something that is truly unacceptable business practice vs just being cheap.

    4. Chinook*

      This isn’t frugality, just shifting of travel expenses to the employee. I assume that the employer is not supplying the camping gear, so that means employees need to buy it. The good stuff isn’t cheap and those who have it (like my dad who camps in the backwoods and when canoeing) spend years upgrading or getting pieces as birthday gifts.

      As fot showing up and looking and smelling professional, forget it. Unless the campground has fully functioning showers, you are at the very least going to smell of campfire and bug dope,

      1. Delta Delta*

        Or it’s a willful blindspot/assumption by the boss that everyone who works there already has camping gear. It seems possible that people drawn to working in an environmental organization might own that gear, but it’s not safe to assume.

        1. EPLawyer*

          The boss doesn’t have camping gear. Please notice the boss is not staying in tents or a cabin. The boss has an RV. Which is most definitely not environmentally friendly.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yeah, that jumped out to me right away. If they’re trying to impose this as “environmentally friendly,” then the boss hauling a camper everywhere immediately defeats that purpose, and then some.

            1. A Non E. Mouse*

              Yes, this.

              We own a camper and 1) it’s not environmentally friendly to haul since we use an approximate fuckton of gas to get anywhere when hauling and 2) it can in no way be considered “cheap”, what with the upkeep and the tags and storage and….

              However making me haul it instead of paying for a hotel would be effectively transferring all business travel costs to me, so if that’s their goal, they are winning.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I mean, I own a lot (A LOT) of camping gear, but it would be completely absurd for me to load up my little trailer with that gear and drive it cross-country, and spend hours setting it up (not actually possible on my own) and cooking and cleaning up etc. My tent nominally sleeps eight so it’s the size of a decent hotel room anyway.

          This would get a firm “Ha ha, good one. Seriously, where’s the nearest youth hostel / budget hotel chain / Air BNB options?” from me.

        3. Jen S. 2.0*

          Yeah, I don’t care if I have two-thirds of REI in my basement, it’s still unacceptable to expect me to camp on a business trip, unless the express purpose of that trip is to evaluate campgrounds by testing the sleeping facilities. No. Just, no.

      2. Just Another Techie*

        I have all the relevant gear, and really enjoy camping, but like hell do I want to camp before a business meeting. Good lord.

        1. Sparrow*

          Granted, I don’t like camping in general but, seriously, can you imagine showing up to a work meeting and trying to act professional with people you don’t know after spending a night in a tent? I’m sure there are a couple of people out there who wouldn’t mind, but I sure would. Yikes.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I did a lot of backpacking in my 20s and 30s. I still have most of the gear. But sleeping on the ground has grown a lot less attractive in my ever-more advanced youth. I would need the better part of the morning to work the kinks out of my back, and I would be largely useless for anything mental due to having had a terrible night’s sleep. The beauty of backpacking, is that five or ten miles with a full pack is tiring enough that you will sleep well, and camp food will taste good. But car camping? Not so much.

        3. Lynn Whitehat*

          Same. Two things that do not go well at all together. How are you supposed to look appropriate for a business meeting after camping in the woods?

          1. whingedrinking*

            Plus there’s the smell. My experience is that after a camping trip, once everyone gets indoors again you definitely notice it. Even if we allow that it’s a short stay, spending most of your time inside instead of hiking and paddling, and not cooking on an open fire, you’re still not ever going to get really freshened up in a campsite shower (if those are even available).

      1. TiffIf*

        Frankly, given the options of camping in a tent or sleeping in my car, I would opt for sleeping in my car. I DO NOT camp.

        1. Pilcrow*

          Truth. I have an SUV; I’ll put down the back seat and stuff an air bed back there before camping in a tent.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            In 1994 on a youth group retreat weekend three of us slept in my ’91 (or thereabouts) Mercury Tracer because it was the only place we could be safe from the mosquitoes.

          2. Happy Lurker*

            I have spent more nights than I care to remember sleeping in the car instead of the tent. Sometimes due to horrendous rain storms and sometimes dues to horrendous snoring!

        2. Antilles*

          Especially with a business meeting the next day.
          I honestly think you’d be better rested and less dirty if you just reclined your seat and slept in your car – no sweat/effort setting up and taking down the tent, fully protected from the elements, you can easily regulate the temperature so you don’t sweat, etc.

      2. Locket*

        I guess that’s what I’d have to do, I get massive asthma attacks if I try to sleep outdoors. Like, that can actually kill me if it’s bad enough.

        Then you have people like my dad who need a CPAP to sleep, I’m sure that’s super fun while camping?? There are so many people for whom this would not be viable, and for reasons they shouldn’t have to justify or explain at work. Wtf.

      1. The Original K.*

        There was one where someone was required to sleep in the office – literally in the office on the floor in a sleeping bag. And there was another where someone was required to drive 8 hours because her boss preferred to do everything in one trip rather than staying overnight.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          On the floor in the office is one step better than this because (1) the walls and roof have already been built and (2) there is indoor plumbing.

          I would far rather sleep in the office than a tent before a business meeting, which is to say I would refuse both.

        2. Quill*

          No, I was thinking specifically of the one where a manager was insisting that her employees walk instead of taking taxis because of corporate costs, and lectured them about accepting free pizza.

          I don’t think we got an update out of the “sleep on an air mattress in the office” lady, but 8 hour drive lady got an update I think.

            1. Quill*

              Oh geezus, I remember now that OP had a severe problem with matryring herself for work and did update, highly disappointingly.

        3. Courtney*

          I had a boss that preferred that for himself when possible, but he didn’t impose it on those traveling with him. He had small kids and didn’t want to overnight away from home if it was avoidable. I booked several trips for him where he and the coworker going on the trip would fly out on the same early morning flight. He would return on an evening flight, and the travel partner would stay over and fly back the next morning.

    5. Jessica Fletcher*

      Since they have a waiver from a state agency to camp for free, I wonder if they put this in their grant application, and so their budget was based on no travel lodging costs and changing that now would require shifting costs around, which may not be possible. I’m guessing this based on LW saying they’re affiliated with a state agency, but they’re not the agency itself.

      I agree it’s terrible and unreasonable. I also could see a small nonprofit doing that to try to get the state contract/grant/whatever. In my experience, they try to cut costs any way possible, even if totally ridiculous.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Yeah I could see it.

        But then, the NGO has two choices: don’t travel, or find matching funds. And then revisit its grant writing process.

    6. StellaBella*

      In the last 10 years I have worked for 2 non profits and an academic org. It is the poor management that make these places bad, not the inherent non profit status … Bad bosses of the year I think were mostly industry, not non profit. But I wilp say both non profits I worked at had low skilled managers and were not great work environments.

    7. Bend & Snap*

      It’s not just nonprofits. I worked for a Fortune 200 company, and one division required its employees to eat fast food and sleep on the GM’s couch when they traveled to his area, instead of getting a hotel.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So much is in the presentation. If they said camping is *ALLOWED*, a certain percentage of the employees would be calling it a perk.
      But unless there’s electricity in those tents, anyone with a CPAP will be pointing to the ADA. (Just to name one condition.)
      Anyone who needs to prep materials for the next day will show up at the customer site with a dead laptop battery.
      And do all these camps now have free wifi?

      1. Jadelyn*

        In addition to power for medical devices, a lot of people have various musculoskeletal issues that make sleeping on the ground a terrible idea. I don’t need power, but I definitely need a real bed and to not have to climb up and down off the damn ground.

        1. ampersand*

          You’re absolutely right, and at the same time I feel like THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE SAID. It’s ridiculous that this is even a conversation someone might need to have at their job. And yet, here we are…

        2. Quill*

          I recently discovered that I cannot reliably sleep on a floor anymore, even with camping mats, which is a great disappointment to me considering I’d like to go camping again at some point…

    9. JKP*

      Even if you do agree to camp and have camping gear, how are you bringing all your gear on an airplane?

  2. Dragoning*

    My first response to this is wordless screaming.

    My second response is to suggest quitting.

    My third response to nominate this to Bad Bosses of the Year.

    1. Liane*

      Yes, this is horrid, stupid, shortsighted … very bad boss behavior, and Alison’s advice is great. (Even if I do share the worries of several commenters that Group Pushes Back won’t work because the organization seems fine with losing employees.

      BUT please, let’s all make a belated New Year resolution to not mention the 2020 poll until it’s up. Bad bosses the world over seem to sense when someone here types that a boss deserves to be on the ballot & then we have “‘Hold my beer…’ Management Edition.”

    2. Happy Lurker*

      This should be the year that someone crafty makes Alllison a really terrible BBotY trophy and she posts a pic of it in December! Sorry, I am not crafty.

  3. katelyn*

    Also, how far away are the parks from the meeting sites? Getting up early at a hotel to shower and toss things in a suitcase and into the car for a meeting 15 minutes down the road is very different from needing to fully strike camp, pack the tent, go to a communal shower to get ready, and drive all the way into a city from a park.

    This whole thing sounds horrible. What if it rains overnight and your tent isn’t that great. Are you all expected to have your own tents? A decent tent isn’t cheap!

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Faster with two. But a one-two man tent can be done alone. Heck my four-man I did alone. And unless you’re on top of this sharing tents, two-four man should be sufficient.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Exactly. Free doesn’t = best option. I camp in a tent in the summer of my own choice and I wouldn’t want to do it for work. Not only would you need a good tent, but all the gear. Unless the boss is offering her camper (which I don’t suggest using, really) then she’s not taking into account anything like the heat (which can make people sick), weather/rain food, showers, security – this would be a big one. A tent is nowhere near as secure as a hotel room. There’s just so many things wrong with this. I’d push back.

      1. Quill*

        Camping is also not always free, or even cheaper than a hotel room, even before you count in the equipment.

        1. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

          ^^^^

          Perfectly sums up the shifting of costs from businesses to workers in late-stage capitalism.

        2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Perfectly sums up why my friend nearly lost her mind when her MIL was her kid’s nanny one summer.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Seriously, where would you charge the laptop? I can see the poor OP camped out in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant to tether off the free WiFi, because the boss had last-minute changes to the presentation.

      3. Jen S. 2.0*

        Does it matter if the boss (“boss”) IS offering up her camper? Still a no. Don’t put ideas in her head.

        Heh, “No, unfortunately I won’t be able to make the presentation I drove 6 hours here to give. It rained overnight at the campground and shorted out my laptop. Sorry.”

    2. Ashley*

      It does bring up a point – if you did camp who provides tents and all camping supplies? That bill can top the hotel bill for a week if you don’t have supplies.

      1. SuperBB*

        This was my question. How far are they traveling? Who is supplying the gear? Are camping spots even available during travel times? In my state, camping spots for the summer book up months in advance.

        The person who created this policy thought about it for about 5 seconds based only on their personal experience.

      2. Nephron*

        And shared supplies need to be checked right before you leave otherwise you will find yourself with a tent missing parts, or all of the cooking supplies are rusted or were not cleaned.

    3. MistOrMister*

      I almost would like to suggest that someone camp out and show up completely disheveled to a meeting/seminar/whatever. I’m talking full on dirt streaking their face, mud caked on their boots or shoes and hem of their pants, hair looking like a bird’s nest, with leaves sticking out here and there. Then calmly walking in and sitting down and acting like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Then when,someone inevitably asks, you say, “oh yeah, boss said we have to camp on these trips. I was atracked by rabid hedgehogs as I broke camp this morning and fell down a gully trying to get away. And there wasn’t time to change by the time I got free.” I bet the boss wouldn’t require camping after that!!

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        Malicious compliance is a great idea here. I enjoy camping, but there’s no way in hell I’d want to camp the night before an important business meeting.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I don’t particularly like camping, so that policy would be torture for me! But when the many people who love to camp all come back saying that would be horrible, it makes you wonder how the boss can think it’s a good idea.

        1. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

          There’s already one out there – it’s called Welcome to the Jungle (NOT the Jumanji movie) and it’s glorious. With Van Damme running a militaristic retreat for “team building” get-togethers.

      2. aebhel*

        Right?

        Honestly, one of the appeals of camping rough is that you’re not expected to groom yourself up to a presentable standard (or at least the standard is much lower), but uh. That doesn’t translate too well to a business context.

      3. LKW*

        I love this idea.
        “Had to sleep in the back of the rental car. I haven’t had time to call them and determine how they classify bear scratches on the paint.”

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      Seriously. I like to camp and have the gear (need to upgrade my sleeping mats, though) BUT–it takes TIME to camp! Camping is an activity unto itself. When I am camping that is what I am doing, not camping and working simultaneously. Good grief.

    5. Natalie*

      That’s what I was wondering. I think the closest state campground to my city is at least a 45 minutes drive without traffic. Also they almost always have terrible cell service and no wifi, which is great when you want to spend time in the woods but probably detrimental to many business trips.

    6. Malarkey01*

      The words “strike camp” should never be uttered at work unless you are some outdoor adventure guide.

      And seriously what if there’s a storm?

    7. AuroraLight37*

      I live near DC. The nearest state park with camping is in Greenbelt, and it’s currently closed. Getting from there to the Convention Center requires two trains and a bus. After that, Bull Run Regional Park is the next closest. There is no public transportation, so you’d have to rent a car.
      This is not a workable proposition, to say the least.

      1. Sharkie*

        They can always stay in the motel 6 in rock creek park! Boss this is a camping structure in the park!

      2. Overeducated*

        Greenbelt is actually a national park so if this org were in MD it wouldn’t even be free for them! But your point stands :)

      3. Ana Gram*

        I’m also near DC. The closest state park to me is a primitive site with a 1 mile hike in. The amenities? Pit toilet, undrinkable water, bear lockers, and the option to gather fallen wood.

        There is no way in hell I could spend the night there (after schlepping ALL of my gear in and out) and go to a meeting and act professional.

    8. Parenthetically*

      YES, Sheezy H. Crackers. It takes A NOT-INSIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME to break camp when you’re not just rolling out in your camper, Bossperson.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        It takes a lot of time to set up and take down a trailer too. Esp. if it’s not level ground.

        I always seem to be putting up (or taking down) tents in 90+ degree heat with a humidity in the 85-100% range. It’s actually why we have a camper now. I gave my spouse the choice of camper (buying or renting as needed); hotels or renting cabins. I was done. Done. DONE with tent camping.

        Most of the state parks that I’ve camped in have the option of power. I’d guess that those sites usually go first in bookings and the powerless sites are likely what the LW would be ending up with. We once accidentally booked a non electric site when camping with friends. Not one of our greatest moments but we thankfully had a 100ft extension cord and friends at the site next to us.

    9. smoke tree*

      My first thought here, possibly because my mind can’t handle fully exploring this scenario, is that camping gear is actually pretty expensive, particularly if you want decent quality. I’ve bought my camping gear over the course of several years. Maybe the boss should lend out her camper if she’s so dedicated to this plan.

  4. Liz*

    Um what? No. Just no. And does the boss expect employees to have or obtain the necessary stuff to camp? I don’t camp, and haven’t since i was in girl scouts a thousand years ago, but wouldn’t you need to have a sleeping bag, tent, and other paraphernalia to be able to do this? So they’re basically asking employees to go out and BUY whatever is needed, if they don’t already have it?

    1. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

      Yeah, I came here to comment that durable camping gear can be EXPENSIVE. What’s the boss’s plan for those costs? Just shoveling it onto the employees? (Probably.)

      1. AndersonDarling*

        We are talking hundreds of dollars just to have something decent. I’d push back on that as well…”If we are required to camp, how do I submit my reimbursement for my camping equipment?”
        …But…they probably have camping equipment available to borrow. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sleep in the sleeping bag that your co-worker farted in all night?
        It’s all a nightmare.

        1. Just J.*

          And – this is just piling on, but why not? – if you live where I do, black bears, coyotes, and bobcats are common. Do you know how to rig up your tent site to protect yourself from them?

          1. whingedrinking*

            I do. I was a Girl Guide in my youth in the Northwest Territories. You should have heard me rip into the person I went camping with who thought it was okay to leave gum in the tent and then was surprised that raccoons got in. (They’re clever little bastards and can undo a zipper.)
            That said, my current job is not one that said when I applied that bear attacks were a risk I might be running if I went to a conference and would nope right outta there if it was suggested.

            1. Tamarack and fireweed*

              I enjoy camping, including in a tent, & have had a job where I needed to maintain bear defense training (same university employer, different job). And I know about jobs where travelling this way makes sense. Some of my co-workers traverse mountains in the winter or hike across vast ares in the summer for work, as project officers. I could even construe a case where, eg, a PR person is traveling along on a field trip if the org is involved in, say, removing invasive weeds from State Parks. HOWEVER, in this case the requirement would have been part of the job description and the job would have been snapped up by a person who likes the adventure.

              (The reason for the turnover seems, indeed, clear.)

      2. Captain Facepalm*

        I highly suspect this might be the case. Sort of a “Here is the cheapest of the 3 quotes tent with plastic sheets as blanket setup you are provided with. Whot? You need something comfortable? Sorry, you are going need to pay for that out of your own pockets!”

        1. BethRA*

          Raterh: tent, ground sheet, sleeping bag, cot or air mattress, camp stove, pots and pans for camp stove….

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve got a very comfortable setup … but there’s no way I’m travelling for work with my re-enactor’s canvas pavilion. I don’t even use it on weekends anymore.
          That’s before getting to how many campgrounds don’t want it because the guy lines are archaic trip hazards, and the tent stakes long enough to pierce automated sprinkler systems that are buried safely below the depth of 6-inch dome tent stakes.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        What’s the boss’s plan for those costs? Just shoveling it onto the employees? (Probably.)

        With how cheap she is? I’d say yes, that’s her exact plan.

    2. Rainy*

      I mean, the boss owns a camper, so it’s not her problem if you’re sleeping in a tarp on the ground, right?

      Sheesh.

      1. Threeve*

        I sort of wonder if this was all concocted so that she could get the park fees waived for her camper.

        1. bluephone*

          Oh my yes. Even if the boss claimed that wasn’t the reason…it was very much the reason. No sane person would come up with this plan.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Oh, yes. Even if this isn’t her *entire* motivation, I’m willing to bet it’s a substantial chunk of it.

        3. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          I just gasped like the elderly duchess at the end of a Ms. Marple mystery when she reveals who did it.

          I think you are right, by Jove.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        The boss’s camper is key here. Some people enjoy RVing as a lifestyle. The boss likely thinks this is a great treat, having just enough empathy to realize that not everyone has an RV, but not nearly enough empathy to work out why this is a bad idea. It is a peculiarly perverse version of those dreadful mandatory fun events that so many companies seem to think of perks for their employees.

        In all seriousness, my response would be to agree only on the condition of borrowing boss’s RV for the trip.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          No. Don’t give her ideas. Don’t agree at all. It’s still unacceptable even if you CAN borrow the boss’ RV. Nooooooooooo.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yeah! I don’t camp either. I can just imagine this boss’s face when I tell her I’ll need the company card to go to REI to buy all the stuff I need to accommodate this ridiculous request.

      1. Creed Bratton*

        We’re thinking small people. Boss sleeps in a camper, right? So why doesn’t each employee submit an invoice for one of those and see what she does ;)

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I like this! I’ll also need to expense a larger vehicle, because my car, while durable and equipped with AWD, does not have towing capacity.

      2. Bryeny*

        Also, boss, I’ll need camping lessons or a camping coach or something because I have no idea how to accomplish the dozens (scores?) of tasks I’ll need to master to complete this trip. (And no, I don’t have time to watch 200 youtube videos to learn on the cheap.) Oh, and I’ll be hiring a bodyguard because there’s no way I’m spending the night alone in the woods.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Oh yes, definitely expense all those classes you’ll have to take at REI to get familiar with all the ins and outs of camping, at $25 to $65 a pop! Especially if you’re in bear country.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’d love to see the look on her face when I presented her with the costs of accommodating my disabilities this way…

        (Basically ‘build me my own hut’)

    4. nnn*

      It might be interesting to cost that out – what would providing camping equipment cost compared with a bog standard hotel room?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Don’t forget the sleeping-bag insert to let you have some semblance of a sheet.
        (Unless you don’t give a sheet anymore?)

        1. Amz*

          Is this really a thing that people do? Granted, I like camping and it’s hard for me to sympathize with the princess-and-the-pea “I won’t go outside except to walk from my car to the building” types, but this seems excessive. (That’s not to say that I think being forced to camp for work is OK… there’s a time and a place for everything, and this is bananas.)

          1. Laoise*

            Sleeping bag inserts are definitely a thing! I wouldn’t be without one, even on a backcountry camping trip. I’m a sweaty sleeper; without a wicking layer my down bag would be soaked each night and probably a write off after just a few trips.

            My silk layer also helps temperature control in both heat and cold beyond what my bag is rated for, and a drier bag is a warmer bag.

            I know people who have doubled the typical lifespan of their bags by using an insert, although I’ve mostly used my liner with borrowed bags so far.

            1. Electric sheep*

              I have also used one, to keep my bag cleaner, give me some extra warmth, or, conversely, allow me to have an intermediate temperature option with the bag partially unzipped and the liner still up (like having the sheet on and a doona half folded down off you).

              It’s really just a sack in a sack.

    5. Liane*

      And these employees need to have some know-how about camping. How to pitch the tent you have. How does a camp stove work. Are there power hookups & how to use them? Etc. Not everything is magically intuitive to everyone.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        I don’t think I’ve camped since I was 8 and even then my mom did most of the work. If told to camp, I’d probably just sleep in my car. I’m a city girl with no idea how any of these things work.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          This. City girl and happy to be so; the last time I camped, I was 12 and someone else did the heavy lifting (and I hated it anyway). And I have no plans of learning how these things work, either.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        Ah yes, camp stoves. My dad collects them. All are in fully working order. I could probably figure out how to light about half of them. Maybe less.

        Most of which I wouldn’t want to use in a tent.

      3. mf*

        Yes, this. I’ve never camped, not once. I’d have no idea what to do, how to plan, what supplies to buy/pack. Does this boss really want her employee to spend work hours figuring out how to camp instead doing, ya know, actual work?

    6. Nanani*

      This.
      Plus storage space? If you live in a smaller space, like an apartment (which is likely more eco friendly than a surban house!) you might not have space for camping gear what with not having a big garage/mudroom/basement.

      Let’s add “must get own storage locker for camping gear” to the list of crappy expenses being pushed to the staff.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can get some budget minimalist gear!

      But unless you’re a trapper transported through time from 1836 I wouldn’t recommend it.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The ultralight hiking schtick was just beginning, back when I was actively backpacking. I quickly identified them as macho loons. You can, for a premium, buy ultralight gear that will keep you alive (probably) but you will be miserable. Curiously enough, a generation earlier the macho loons were the guys who bragged about the great weight they hauled around.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I like that your picture gives off the impression that you did indeed backpack actively in 1836.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Hiking is it’s own beast! Thankfully my redneck family wasn’t into that, they were into dirty camping though.

          I’m thinking more of minimal camping gear. They’re in camp sites, so they specifically for the night only “need” their tent and bedding. I’m like “What is this “you need to bring sheets thing?” that people are mentioning about cabins, lol. Just throw your sleeping bag on it.

          But my uncles used to sleep in caves because they’re that backwoods. Nope, nope, nope, never, nope. I don’t know how they all made it passed 30 years old.

          We didn’t have much room for camping gear since we had to carry the stupid gold dredge and mining equipment >;[

    8. B*

      And what kind of work are they doing day to day where they won’t run into issues with being unable to charge their work phone, work laptop etc.? Especially on a business trip. That’s usually when I need the evenings to catch up on emails that I’ve missed during the day the most!

  5. chickia*

    Of course she has a camper for herself . . . because it’s not really possible to be put together for a work meeting after tent camping. It’s January and we already have a submission for the WTF letter for the year, crazy!

    1. KHB*

      And I can’t believe that driving a camper to each and every work site is more environmentally friendly than taking the train (or even a regular car) and staying in a hotel.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Also, if the meeting is in an older city with narrow streets, driving an RV in and parking is a real issue. Unless, of course, she has a regular car on a trailer, crapifying the gas mileage even more.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        If the LW is the US, a train is not an feasible option to get anywhere except a major city and then you’d still need to get from the train station to where you’re going.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Now there’s a depressing thought. Today in comparisons we shouldn’t ever have to consider…

      2. Copenhagen*

        Having to buy all the stuff needed for camping in a tent (tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, etc.) and hauling it around can’t be better than renting an already existing hotel room either…

        1. BethRA*

          And if boss will drive it to the campground – my car doesn’t have much if anything in the way of towing capacity, and driving with a trailer/camper attached to your vehicle is not something we all know how to do.

      1. WellRed*

        Nope. Not hooking up or flushing out a toilet as part of my work accommodations. (I’m assuming boss has a fancy camper).

    2. Chinook*

      Speaking of January, up here in the frozen north, cabins for rent are not guaranteed to be either opn or heated. And gear for cold weather survival is expensive and not something to cheap out on. Plus, as environmental group, what is your stance on fur, which is an effective liner/add-on for clothing in the deep cold (my manitobah mukluks that I wore in -35 last week were cozy). If the choice is keeping my fingers and nose vs going animal pelt free, the answer is obvious.

    3. whistle*

      Hey Alison, spinning off of chickia’s comment, I would love to see a WTF boss of the year award in addition to worst boss of the year! This could be for bosses that aren’t exactly evil like the worst bosses of the year tend to be, but that implement just totally WTF policies like this one.

      1. Bryeny*

        I love this idea very much! — but I wouldn’t limit it to bosses. Why rule out our coworkers’ WTF achievements?

    4. Artemis*

      I want to be clear that I think this policy is insane, nonprofits – even environmental ones! – need to get their employees hotel rooms, and even though I love camping, it is ONLY fun when it’s your choice.

      However. I will say that I have gotten very dressed up and gone directly into a work meeting using only free public facilities after spending a few days in a tent, and nobody was the wiser, and if others have similar experiences, I bet a substantial and entertaining “how to” thread could be amassed.

  6. QED*

    Even the super cost-conscious environmental nonprofit I worked for right after college didn’t require camping! They squeezed four strangers into a double hotel room, but tents would have been beyond the pale, even for them. I currently work in state government in an environmental-focused agency, and we stay in hotels. With our own rooms. What this nonprofit is proposing is wildly out of touch with norms, even in environmental public interest work. Alison’s advice is spot on.

      1. Liz*

        Me either! It was commonplace when I swam competitively from my youth, up to, and in, college. BUT that was different. no one cared and it was like a giant slumber party. but as an adult? OH NO. i don’t even really like sharing hotel rooms with my close friends! i mean I do it for financial reasons, but i’d really rather prefer having my OWN room.

        1. QED*

          I mean, it was bad, and I’m not advocating for OP’s organization to switch to bed-sharing in hotel rooms as an alternative to camping. I was trying to make the point that even in environmental nonprofits, tent camping on business trips is out of whack with norms.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I can’t because of the logistics of sharing the same bathroom – I have a ton of gastrointestinal issues, and I can’t imagine having to share space with my coworkers when I’m having a flare up. That’s so embarrassing.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          I think some people get stuck in the mindset that they must save every penny when traveling (for work or personal). My dad invited random relatives and coworkers on ski trips with us when I was a kid because we had space. Nothing like jamming 6 people and ski gear in a 5 person SUV to drive across KS. He grew up with 4 brothers and an outhouse. Things like privacy and bathroom concerns mean nothing to him.

        4. Quill*

          It’s also 100% different when you’re, say, a teenager on a school trip and there’s someone to bring your problems to if a roommate turns out to be insufferable. As an adult? In a situation where complaining about a coworker’s misbehavior could jeapordize your employment?

          NOOOOOOPe.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My friend worked for an eco-focused nonprofit after college, and when they traveled for work, they had to crash in the apartments of people who worked at the chapter in the destination city.

      So they’d end up crashing on the floor of some random person’s living room with 8-10 other people.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        A previous tiny firm reckoned a good way of getting 7 adults to a meeting was in the manager’s Mini.

        They got 6 people in it in the end. Not me. My walking aids didn’t fit!

    2. B*

      I have restless leg syndrome. I dare any employer to make me share confined sleeping space with coworkers lol.

  7. Diahann Carroll*

    I don’t understand this. Is the manager demanding this because she believes hotels aren’t environmentally friendly? Because I’ve spent time in several hotels (for business and personal travel) that are now taking steps to be conscious of their waste.

    1. earl grey aficionado*

      That’s what I don’t get. I can’t tell from the letter if the boss wants employees to do this because it’s ~environmentally friendly~, because it’s cheaper (free lodging, so the nonprofit only has to pay travel costs), or if there’s some other reason, like wanting employees to be more familiar with state parks. It’s not okay any which way, but the environmental reason would be especially baffling to me because there are many ways to lower the environmental impact of travel that aren’t this wildly unreasonable. I don’t think it will help the OP and their coworkers to get too bogged down in why the boss feels this way – it’s not okay, no matter the reasoning – but it would be smart to get a basic clarification to guide the acceptable solutions they can offer when they push back. (E.g. more virtual meetings/telecommutes to save money, commitment to staying with more environmentally friendly hotel chains, special non-overnight trips to experience park amenities, etc.)

      1. B*

        Agreed. Most of the comments seem to have assumed it’s cost related. My assumption was that it was primarily environmentally driven, with cost savings as a secondary driver. Otherwise why mention the field/industry? Doesn’t seem relevant unless it is coming into play.

        Still 100% not ok, but it does make the difference – in my mind – between a terrible & unfair manager, versus a terrible & misguided manager. One would qualify for Worst Boss of 2020, other one wouldn’t (unless we move forward with the ‘WTF’ category!!)

        1. Shadowbelle*

          If the manager thinks it’s environmentally sound, and she drives an RV, and expects the employees to shlep their stuff back and forth to a campground or even a cabin every morn and night (because no sensible person should have any expectation of said stuff remaining unpilfered when unguarded), then she has no business being a manager in an environmental organization. Not to mention the employees’ having to purchase special equipment for the trips. And special food. And bottled water, or water purification devices.

      2. Emelle*

        Being more familiar with the state parks sounds lovely, TBH. But I think that would be presented as a “perk”. “hey staff, I have vouchers for everyone for a free campsite at State Parks! Getting to know the parks is ready going to help on our upcoming XYZ project, so please use these as you see fit!” Not….this garbage fire plan of business meetings after camping.

  8. noahwynn*

    I love camping and backpacking. However, that is vacation, not a business trip. I need power to charge my phone and laptop. I need easy access to running water to shower, not a hike up to the campground bathrooms. I need an iron to make sure my clothes look presentable. I can’t imagine rolling out of a sleeping bag and going to conduct business. That is madness.

    1. MCL*

      Same. I love to camp, but I would never consider doing it for a business trip. Not even a state forest cabin, which in my experience are not always plumbed or wired for electricity. And as pointed out above, decent camping equipment is really expensive. This sounds terrible.

    2. Chinook*

      An experienced camper even knows to have a set of clothes specifically for the day you leave so as to not offend the nostrils of anyone you interact with on the drive home.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I also LOVE camping and backpacking but NOT FOR WORK TRAVEL. Aside from all the perfect reasons noahwynn mentioned, camping can be a total pain. What if the weather’s bad and you have to run from tent to your car to get to a meeting and you end up soaking wet? And one of the few perks of work travel is getting to stay somewhere where all the work is done for you (laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc.). Camping is only fun if it is something you choose to do on your own time and if you don’t mind being not terribly well rested.

      Also, I don’t know if the LW is female or not but I as a woman didn’t feel comfortable camping on my own until I was well into my 30s. It’s a sad reality that many younger women won’t feel comfortable, and maybe not even able to sleep, alone in a tent. Heck, I’m sure lots of men feel this way too no matter their age, but for some reason I keep thinking about myself as a 20-something and how scared I would have been alone in a tent. Not because of bears but because of humanity. Unfortunately.

    4. Jackalope*

      Yeah, I’m in the same spot – love to camp but NOT on a work trip. Most of the campgrounds in my area don’t have showers either and many don’t have running water. Taking a sponge bath in icy water to try to make myself moderately presentable (since the OP is doing fundraising and presumably needs to look her best?). Nope.

    5. Kes*

      Yeah, this is extra weird because you’re literally not going to be ready to do business after camping in a park, for all the reasons you mentioned (plus wifi for any last minute preparations for the meeting the next day)

    6. Quill*

      I like to camp but I 100% cannot imagine doing it alone even without it being business travel. For one thing, it requires a lot of lifting, for another, most camping areas that would at all be accessible for me are close enough to other campers that I’d be on edge all night.

  9. Butter Makes Things Better*

    ~≈:—O

    I would love it if someone attempted to negotiate for use of the boss’s camper on work trips.

  10. Julie*

    If you stay in a hotel, you only have to bring clothes and personal grooming items. Good camping gear, however, can be expensive! And they’re obviously not going to provide your tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, canopy, etc. This is a ridiculous burden to put on employees.

  11. ZSD*

    This would be an absolute nightmare for me. There’s one progressive non-profit where I’ve decided not to apply because their page describing their work environment specifically states that they “fill the hotel rooms” for business travel, and whether that means two people per room or four, it’s not for me. But camping! And not telling you until after you’re hired!!
    Yeesh.

  12. Even In an Emergency*

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  13. Mrs. Psmith*

    My spouse is a state park employee and while they do stay in park cabins/bunk houses for some trips and he has taken a tent and camped outside (along with others) for other trips, hotels were provided for most travel. Especially if it’s a conference or other event where they are meeting with people outside the park system.

    1. Dragoning*

      I can see this as semi-sensible for like…park rangers…or someone travelling specifically to inspect the park (maybe).

      That’s it.

      1. Ophelia*

        Right. I maaaaaybe can see staying in the cabins *if your meetings are in the park* but otherwise, NOPE.

        1. Myrin*

          I actually misread the letter at first and thought that’s what OP and colleagues would be doing and even then I thought “NOPE”.

          1. CarolineChickadee*

            I’ve held jobs that required me to live in park housing onsite, and the rental cabins for the public were at least as nice as the home I lived in all year round. If a partner refused to stay in one of our cabins because the cabins weren’t nice enough, I’d have a hard time working with them. They would definitely come across as out of touch.

      2. Mrs. Psmith*

        Exactly, he’s a park ranger and it’s usually when he is meeting with other rangers or park supervisory staff that they’ve done that. When it’s travel with other employees (like office staff) they will stay in hotels (they do have to share rooms sometimes) or non-primitive park cabins. As in, the cabins have electricity, full bathrooms, ac/heat, kitchens.

      3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        I’ve seen it as a requirement for some archaeological or environmental testing jobs, especially when the job site is remote (or the bid was too low…). But for a PR/fundraising position? That’s bizarre.

          1. Quill*

            The dig I went on in college had rooms with air conditioning and flush toilets.

            Granted, where we were it was over 100 degrees by noon most of the time, so that was probably safest.

        1. Pilcrow*

          That’s what I was thinking. A remote field study in the heart of Yellowstone counting pine beetles (and the people doing that kind of work know to expect that kind of accommodation)? Sure, camping makes sense. Otherwise, no.

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          There do exist jobs where this makes perfect sense. Somebody at a sleeping bag manufacturer is camping for work right now. Someone does have to evaluate the campground by testing the sleeping areas. Park rangers, outdoors guides, wilderness instructors, archaeologists, the people filming Planet Earth and Naked and Afraid, sure.

          But you know that’s the deal when you accept those jobs; in fact, it’s probably a selling point for those jobs. OP works in PR and fundraising. Her job is not one of the jobs where camping makes sense.

          1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            And presumable they don’t expect you to be showered and are fine with you wearing clothes that are only ‘clean’ by virtue of being less filthy than the others.

      4. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        Or maybe if you’re a crew member on Survivor. Although I think they get to stay in a hotel!

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I imagine it’s a bit of a way for park employees to also sort of “inspect” the cabins or camp sites as part of their work. There are things you learn by actually using the facilities as opposed to just walking through or relying on the public to report it.

    3. CarolineChickadee*

      I’ve worked for a few environmental nonprofits with small budgets, and camping to save money was normal. It was never a hard requirement, but we didn’t have any money in the budget for hotels. If we wanted to travel, we’d need to make a choice between camping or staying home. If we could stay in state park cabins for free, we absolutely would have!

      I’ve also been a state park ranger, and we always stayed in cabins when traveling. LW doesn’t name their state, but every state park’s system is different. Some are pretty nice, and not a huge step down from a hotel (which can also have bedbugs, btw).

      1. Electric sheep*

        Thanks for the perspective, it’s interesting to hear that this might be more of a cultural thing.

        I have some logistical questions, if you don’t mind? Were you expected to already have your own gear? How did you transport it to the camp site? Were you all able bodied, or did people with disabilities just not travel?

        1. CarolineChickadee*

          Transport is easy- we would do car camping, where you can drive right up next to the site and pitch your tent a few feet from your car.

          Many of us had our own gear. We also had connections with other nonprofits that offered “gear libraries” where people without gear can borrow what they need. Also, in outdoorsy circles, there’s always someone willing to loan you the basics. I own three tents, and I’d have no problem letting someone borrow an extra.

          The job was the type that skewed towards younger, active people, and I’m not sure any of my coworkers had a disability that would prohibit camping. If they did, they might have been able to get a hotel- I know that occasionally we could find money for that, so maybe there were behind the scenes conversations that I didn’t hear.

          And to clarify- I’d usually camp for work trips 1-3 times per year. So not a huge part of the job.

  14. MistOrMister*

    I am now picturing a place where people are told to hitchhike/jump trains like it’s the 1930s in order to get across the country for a seminar. With the caveat that you have to use PTO for the travel days. And probably you get reamed out if you’re injured or arrested since that might make you late…

    1. Rainy*

      My organization has a huge org-wide “all hands on deck” week in late August every year (guess the industry), and we are required to work outside our unit for at least X hours of it every year. This work is referred to as “volunteering” and we are given shirts that say “volunteer” etc.

      Well, last year someone in my division was badly injured while doing this required work, and the head of our division fought her workman’s comp claim on the basis that it was “volunteering” and not a part of her job duties. By the time the employee was successful in having the injury classed as OTJ and eligible for workman’s comp, the window for surgery had passed. Recovery time with surgery for that type of injury is a few weeks. The employee expects to be in a brace for another 13 months in order for the injury to have a chance of healing completely.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I would be livid if that happened to me!!! If your job requires something, how can they try to say it doesn’t count as working? Ugh!!!

        I slipped on a huge puddle on my way to lunch (the office people were fixing a leak but hadn’t put up any wet floor signs and I just didn’t see it until my foot started going on a road trip!!) and figured that since I was going to lunch they would say it was my time and no worker’s comp for me. Boy was I wrong! I still had to do the paperwork. Fortunately I wasn’t injured beyond some soreness so didn’t have to actually pursue anything, but they definitely don’t drag their feet here.

        1. Jadelyn*

          It all comes down to the state – the specifics of worker’s comp law are by state. In California, literally anything you’re doing on your employer’s property, on working time, or which is “unavoidable in order to do your work” basically is covered. My mother fell in her employer’s parking lot and injured her wrist, and it was covered under worker’s comp.

          But in Illinois, it’s only covered if you’re actively on the clock and performing a work-related activity. My company has locations in Chicago as well as California and once had someone in a Chicago office trip on an uneven elevator-floor spot, but they were on their way to the bathroom so worker’s comp refused to cover it.

          1. MistOrMister*

            I could understand something that happens during lunch or on the way in or out of work not being covered. But it surprises me that an injury on the way to the bathroom would he denied. I guess, technically you wouldn’t actually be working. But I suppose I assumed as long as,you were on the clock, you’d be covered – and I’ve never heard of having to clock out to use the restroom. Amazing how complex and convoluted laws can get…

      2. Mama Bear*

        That is appalling.

        I wonder if the OP’s company has considered the impact to their insurance for this. Camping has a LOT of potential to cause injury, esp. if people are not avid campers.

    2. Delta Delta*

      “I’m sorry I’m going to be a little late for our presentation. I had to ride the rails in a freight train to get here, and there was a cow on the tracks just south of Omaha. Don’t mind my appearance, that’s just coal dust from the boxcar where I’ve been sleeping since Tulsa.”

      1. MistOrMister*

        Not to mention you’d need to keep an eagle eye on the stick where you’d tied the huge handkerchief holding your belongings! Hahahaha. I guess if nothing else, you would have quite the story to tell when you arrived.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          “Boss, I need some advice. My laptop is too big to fit in my bandana so I can carry it on this stick. What should I do?”

        2. Stephen!*

          It’s called a bindle! You’ll want to brush up on your terminology if you don’t want to be the laughingstock of your new coworkers/hobos.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What’s the Hobo Code chalk-mark for “has wifi on the freight train” so you can make last-minute changes to your presentation?

      1. whomever*

        True story: I once took a class from someone who had worked at a very famous research lab (in the western US) back in the day and according to him, there was a big culture of riding the rails there, all these PhDs just doing it for fun…

  15. Clorinda*

    Oh, there’s more coming. This is just the outlying edge of the crazy. Diva cups required! Everyone has to be full vegan even at home! Car-shaming!
    Mind you, I have nothing against diva cups, veganism, or going car-free; these are all worthy personal projects. I’m just predicting that this boss will attempt to make these things mandatory or “highly recommended.”

    1. Quill*

      100% this is the kind of “environmentally friendly” company that thinks california-dehydrating almond milk is a net benefit to the environment.

      1. Quill*

        For more information you don’t require: they need to be sterilized in boiling water. (Not sure how often but… often enough that you’d have to plan for that to camp using one for a full week.)

        1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

          Once a cycle, and if you finish your period while camping you can wait until you get home.

          1. Quill*

            That would indeed be more convenient than some of the alternatives then… though the logistics of insertion of any period hygeine device in a place like a camping pit toilet continue to make me wince.

      2. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

        Oh, relax. Roughly half of the world has periods. It’s worth knowing what a diva cup is.

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      Car-shaming while also forcing you to camp in places that are not public-transit accessible!

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        Well, duh! You don’t know how to get between the city and the middle of nowhere without a car? What kind of environmentalist are you?? /sarcasm

        1. Rob aka Mediancat*

          First step: Make a sacrifice to the king and queen of the eagles. This sacrifice must be purchased at employee’s expense; alternatively, use a slow-moving co-worker.

          Second step: Beseech them for the boon of transportation.

          Third step: Remember to do the same at your destination, although there you may have to sacrifice a fellow camper instead.

          If we follow these instructions, we may be able to save thousands per year, and rid the company of some dead weight at the same time. Note that if you are caught by the local authorities at either end, the company cannot support you, though the king and queen of the eagles may still provide assistance. thank you.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            If you are unable to catch a coworker to sacrifice, you may be asked to contribute a spare hand or foot to the collective office sacrifice. Employees who run out of feet will be officially classified as “slow-moving.”

    3. Vicky Austin*

      That reminds me of the job listing at a Christian college near me. The college forbids ALL of their employees to have sex with anyone but their spouse, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, smoke weed, gamble, or look at porn.
      Yeah, I decided not to apply to that job- not because I have a problem abstaining from those activities (I don’t), but because it’s none of my employer’s business how I live my life when I’m not at work.

    4. It's a Yes From Me*

      I thought you wrote “CAT shaming” which I think would actually be a lot of fun — looking at photos of things people’s naughty kitties have done, like unspooling the last roll of toilet paper in the guest bathroom just before a guest goes to use it … that sort of thing.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Former coworker kept on at me about going car free and cycling everywhere. She honestly believed that my disabilities were just me making up excuses for keeping my car.

      (Lady, if I can’t walk 20 metres without agonising pain then I sure as heck can’t cycle 2 miles to work!)

      For the remainder of her time there she called me ‘planet destroyer’.

  16. TCO*

    I also work at a small environmental nonprofit and we stay at hotels when we travel for work. Some of us are camping/outdoor enthusiasts and welcome opportunities to be outside, both on work time and in our personal lives, but we’re still not expected to camp when traveling for work. That’s ridiculous.

    First off, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone, even in an environmental organization, to want to camp or be physically able to camp. And even though I like camping, I readily accept that I don’t sleep as well, I’m not as a clean/well-dressed, etc. It’s not a good combination with professional work meetings, even though our field is more casual than some.

    There are some field work-type jobs in our sector that would naturally involve camping. But those are very specific jobs and the people in them know what they’re signing up for. People with “office” jobs are not committing to that nor should they be expected to. The environmental field needs to work on becoming more open to all who share a commitment to the earth, without putting up “righteous” barriers that make people feel unwelcome/unable to join the work.

    1. Nom de Plume*

      This. And for fieldwork that requires tent camping, you’re not expected to be rested and groomed for a meeting the next day. Everyone looks like shit and smells because no one showers, and it doesn’t matter because you are spending your days outdoors working.

    2. AuroraLight37*

      Yeah, my father used to camp on work trips- where he was leading grad students on geological field trips into the Brooks Range in Alaska, or when he went down to Antarctica and worked out on the ice.
      Short of situations like that, most of us don’t need to camp when we’re working. Also, nobody cared what you looked like after of three days bathing from a bucket.

  17. Amber Rose*

    “You need to show up for business meetings rested, washed, and productive…”

    I feel like I’d be quoting this exact line to this boss. “I cannot be neat, put together and rested enough to work if I sleep in a tent.”

    Not to mention, imagine trying to do any kind of prep work on an air mattress by flashlight.

    1. Antennapedia*

      Well, and I don’t know about everybody else but while I LOVE to camp I LITERALLY do not get a solid night’s sleep until my second or third night out. I have no idea why, I’m just super twitchy the first couple of nights camping. We schedule our camping trips to be over long weekends because of this.

  18. Michelle*

    Nope. Not in a million years. I don’t care for camping at all and would not ever agree to camp for a work trip.

  19. Alex*

    WTF.

    Putting aside the fact that asking employees to camp is crazy bananas, is this company going to provide tents? Sleeping bags for everyone? Or is there like one shared sleeping bag that gets passed around? (YUCK!) Are you expected to purchase your own? I love camping (BUT NOT FOR A BUSINESS TRIP) and have invested a lot of money in my gear, as well as accumulated a lot of knowledge and know-how about camping over my 30 years of experience doing it.

    I can’t imagine being a novice camper being sent out to a state park with borrowed gear. That is just….wtf.

    If I were going to maliciously comply, I’d rent a top-of-the-line RV and put it on the company card, saying it was “Normal camping.” Costs more per night than a budget hotel, especially when you add in all the gas it takes to run it!

    1. Ophelia*

      Seriously, and in that case the carbon footprint is much worse than, say, taking a train to a city and staying in a hotel.

  20. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Even if you pitch a tent in a campground with shower facilities – they exist – setting up and breaking down a campsite is a tiring, dirty proposition. I’m at an age where sleeping on the ground would cause more pain than I care to medicate. Also, I need an electrical appliance to make my hair look presentable. For me, ‘whenever possible’ would become ‘never.’

    Supporting an important cause does not mean blindly obeying your boss’s mandate, OP, and I hope you and your colleagues can successfully push back.

    1. Quill*

      I wouldn’t physically be able to set up camp during an arthritis flare, and the boss having a camper is just the icing on the cake.

  21. Jennifer Juniper*

    Don’t forget the hypocrisy of the boss using a camper herself when she travels!

    And I’m guessing that most people don’t have the money to just plunk down $$$$$ on camping equipment, which can be expensive. And not everyone knows how to put up a tent!

  22. Antilles*

    Requiring this of fundraising staff seems straight up insane. If you walked into a fundraising meeting and it came out that you’d been sleeping in a tent to save money, I’d immediately wonder if your organization is in deep financial trouble so much so that donating would be throwing good money after bad.
    Also, as a side note, I’d bet that when the state agency gave you the waiver, they were likely envisioning occasional use to hold events or when your conservation efforts happened to be at the park or something like that – NOT as a replacement for hotel rooms for standard business travel.

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      That’s a really good position to take…aside from the fact the whole request is unreasonable. Staying in tents, rather than impressing donors with your dedication to the cause, may leave them questioning your organization’s priorities and ability to properly manage funds and employees, and donation levels may suffer significantly. Plus the organization would not have a good reputation. Making employees sleep in tents is a great story that will get shared often.

      1. AuroraLight37*

        Ooh, good point. If I were a donor, the minute I found out that your org demanded its employees camp out rather than have hotel rooms, I know I’d mention it to someone else if only because it’s such a bananacrackers requirement. This kind of thing would get around, and it would not look good.

    2. Observer*

      This.

      The whole idea is crazy to start with. Letting potential donor and funders this is going to lose you lots of funding.

  23. Cookie Monster*

    Am I the only one that would be scared to stay alone on a camp ground? I am afraid of crazies, I like having a locked door. I like not worrying about my stuff getting stolen, or being attacked in my sleep.

    1. Ms. Afleet Alex*

      Not the only one at all. When I travel alone I am extra-extra-extra careful about locking doors, checking my surroundings, etc. Sleeping in an easily accessible tent is a no-go.

      1. Captain Facepalm*

        Agree. Not to mention you are more than likely holding onto either 1) expensive office equipment like laptops and projectors 2) presentation material which should preferably not be dirtied up before reaching the meeting office 3)personal valuables, phones and identity cards. Not something you want to secure in an unguarded tent in the middle of nowhere,

    2. Chinook*

      I have camped alone and will admit to sleeping with an axe under my pillow for both 2 and 4 legged animals.

    3. Atalanta0jess*

      I would be totally nervous sleeping outside by myself too.

      That said – I wonder if you’d consider expressing ideas like this in a way that was less stigmatizing to people with mental health issues. The term “crazies” is pretty hurtful.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        I apologize-I was basically referring to rapists/murderers and did not think of the implications of my word usage.

        1. Atalanta0jess*

          I’m way late coming back to this – apologies – but thank you so much for this lovely reply. That made my morning. :)

    4. JustaTech*

      Or having my car ransacked by a raccoon because I don’t know how to animal-proof my stuff. If you’re staying at a busy campground there *probably* wouldn’t be bears or cougars or wolves, but you know what? I really don’t want to find out the hard way because my boss was cheap.

      Also, I have not yet, on any camping trip ever, managed to get the tent set up while it was still light out. Not once. It’s been OK, but that’s because I’ve gone with experienced campers who know things like “where to put the food to keep it safe”, “How to not put up the tent in a runoff” (done that, it sucked).

      And what if it rains? Unless the boss thinks you’re going to get more funding by showing up bedraggled, wet and smelly, this is just the worst penny-pinching yet.

    5. Quill*

      Deep enough in a national park I’d be concerned about bears, in the kind of parking lots with trees campgrounds I’ve seen in some state parks, I’d be concerned about other people.

      Also having a laptop and business clothes around increases the likelihood people will try to steal from you.

    6. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Definitely not alone. I’m very surprised to hear this came from a female boss, tbh. If it came from a male I get that he mightn’t have the same personal safety concerns underlying his world view, but I don’t know many women that would willingly camp alone, in a remote, unfamiliar area, in an unlockable tent. HELL to the no.

  24. Risha*

    Even aside from the

    *wordless screaming*

    the logistics are puzzling me. State campgrounds probably won’t have camping gear available. Are they only traveling locally, or are they expected to drag a tent and a bunch of other gear onto a plane???

    1. noahwynn*

      I don’t even think my brain made it that far, too much shock. You’re totally right though. How much are you having to pay in extra bag fees to bring camping equipment with you on a flight? Are they also expecting everyone to buy not only camping gear but super-expensive, ultralight backpacking gear?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        All good points. I think, though, that since LW mentioned state parks and state agencies, it seems likely that all travel is within the state. No telling how big that state is, of course, but seems like if they are supposed to drag camping equipment with them they are probably traveling by car and not plane. Plane travel within state seems unlikely since that type of travel is usually very pricey and they are obviously under budget constraints.

        And, heck, if they are a state agency, shouldn’t the travel accommodations be the same as the ones for state government agencies? I’m not sure what the difference is between a state non-profit and a state government, but in any case, I doubt the government officials camp when they are traveling.

          1. AuroraLight37*

            In Alaska, there are places you can’t even drive to! If you’re going from Fairbanks to Juneau, your options are to fly or else somehow get down to Whittier and take the ferry, which is about a 45 hour boat trip without counting any stops and changes along the way.

        1. Dragoning*

          I went to university in-state, but in the opposite corner from my hometown, and on more than one occasion my parents bought me tickets to fly home for Thanksgiving, etc. because it was flat cheaper than the gas.

      2. JustaTech*

        I went airplane-camping out of state for the eclipse a few years ago and my SO and I checked two huge duffles with a tent, air mattress, two sleeping bags and the air pump for the mattress. None of it was ultralight, but he also had status on that airline so we didn’t have to pay the baggage fee. (We picked up a camp chair at WalMart and didn’t bother with any kind of stove/cooked food.)
        So you can fly, but you’ll have to check your gear.

    2. WellRed*

      For logistics, I can’t even imagine a campground that is located all that close to wherever I’d be going to the meeting.

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      That’s the other problem no one mentioned. Hauling all my camping gear on a plane would be a god-awful nightmare. Maybe some hardcore backpacker with ultra-lightweight (and ultra-expensive) gear could pull it off, but I never felt the need to invest in that because I learned to camp in the Boy Scouts with a bunch of heavy, clunky, WWII-era military surplus gear.

  25. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    I work for a state environmental agency and they still gave me my own hotel room when I had to do an out of town training! This is banana crackers!

  26. Love2camp*

    I love camping, but for business trips it’s a big NO from me. Camping is messy, stinky, most of the time without electricity. There is no way I could show up to a business meeting the next morning and be all good. This boss is nuts and you need to speak up. Yes, I love environment and I will camp in my free time, but not on business trips.

  27. Delta Delta*

    Re: boss’s camper – good for her! If that’s her own space and she feels comfortable in her own camper and she wants to do it and it also saves money – fine! She’s basically rolling around in her own living room. After a long day of work it’s nice to relax in familiar surroundings, which isn’t always the case in a hotel.

    But.

    All the nope to tent camping. If someone wants to do it, they ought to have the latitude to do it. Some people are very into camping and are amazing at it. Some people don’t want to sleep next to a bear and then go give a marketing presentation. People in the second camp should have the freedom to stay in an indoor/non-infested sleeping space. And can you imagine the possibility for workers’ comp claims? So many things can go wrong, and would be on the employer’s dime.

    1. I'd Rather not Say*

      Say you don’t have sufficient camping gear so you’re going to rent an RV for the trip, then expense it to the agency.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The worker’s comp point is an important one. If I sprain something while I’m putting up or taking down my tent, or I burn myself while trying to use the camp stove, is that covered by the worker’s comp policy?

      1. Delta Delta*

        It absolutely is. If you drive a tent stake through your foot, or break out in welts from your bug spray, or get lung cancer from your campfire and if any of these are traceable to your work activity, then you get to make a comp claim. And it will be hard for the employer to say this wasn’t work related because of the email that OP received. So, yeah, this is all a terrible idea.

  28. AndersonDarling*

    I can’t imagine preparing for a work trip…and camping. I have a hard enough time packing the right clothes and my shampoo and finding a dog sitter. Add to that getting a tent ready and washing a sleeping bag, cooking supplies, bug spray, and the tons of odds n ends that are regularly available at a hotel, like a coffee pot and mirror.
    And what are you supposed to eat?
    Bonkers. It’s just downright banana bonkers. It’s embarrassing that a non-profit leader thought it was a good idea to send that email.

  29. Jand*

    Sadly, I am not surprised by this- it’s fhe norm for seasonal wilderness field jobs (if you’re truly back country there are no other options) and many of us started our careers in those jobs. Not everyone realizes when it is no longer appropriate, and I’ve even gotten random spurts of pressure to camp in my current job. Never for a work meeting though.

  30. kittymommy*

    Hahahaha. I can’t even! I like to read some of these questions to (essentially)our CEO and get his reaction. I cannot wait to see what he says about this. I think he would probably quit before he asked me to camp somewhere to save the company money.

  31. Cookie Monster*

    Also, if you have to travel by plane to get there, how do you get all the camping gear there? What happens when the airline looses it or it comes in the day after you arrive? You sleep on a bench in the airport?

  32. ExtraAnon*

    I work for a for profit environmental company and camping is something done by our field teams. But those are FIELD TEAMS. And everyone in the team must agree to camp or no one does. Sometimes for the kind of people doing a job involving hiking around for 10 hours a day 5-6 days a week, camping beats having to drive several hours to the nearest hotel. But it’s their choice always.

  33. office cat*

    My background is as a field scientist in the western part of the US. I am used to being out in the field and sometimes camping out at night while doing field work.

    I worked a field season for a very small non-profit company. My partner and I did about 15 days of field work on a project. We were prepared to camp out in our project area but the company owner encouraged us to drive to the closest town to stay in a pricey hotel and they did cover the cost of the hotel and dinners.

  34. Rey*

    To keep piling on logistics problems: not all state park locations are going to be conveniently adjacent to business meetings, so add that time (and gas) on top of the time needed for camp chores that don’t exist in hotels. And some state parks are closed or limited access during the winter because the weather conditions make it dangerous, so the boss is requiring employees who may not have appropriate vehicles to put themselves at unnecessary risk and extra vehicle maintenance. This is absurd in so many ways.

  35. LawLady*

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is safety. I love camping, but I’m a small woman, and I’d be uncomfortable tent camping alone in an unfamiliar place (especially one nearish civilization, so there might be people looking to do ill about).

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      One of my larger male friends had a scary incident at a campground involving a homeless person wielding a machete trying to lure him back to his tent.

      This stuff happens.

      1. LawLady*

        Yeah, I almost didn’t put that I’m a small woman because frankly, camping can be dangerous for anyone. I just have a heightened awareness of the available dangers as a small woman.

        I spent some time working at a state park and we had a number of drifters who were living at the state park. For $8 a night (at my park), you could camp and have access to showers and plug ins for charging phones. I realize that there’s a whole complex interplay of mental illness and poverty, and I don’t mean to imply that all such people are dangerous. But especially in the off season, you could find yourself camping in what is basically a homeless encampment, and I personally wouldn’t feel safe there.

    2. Kayakwriter*

      This is a totally legit concern. As a hardcore camper, I mostly camp in remote backcountry sites. When I do camp in car accessible sites enroute to and from my trips, I’m often more concerned about the two legged predators there than the bears, wolves and cougars in the backcountry. And I’m a guy BTY.

      1. Quill*

        In most cases I’ll take my chances with the coyotes in the deeper woods rather than camping alone where other people are around: the coyotes have functioning ideas about me being too much trouble to try and eat. Similarly to how I won’t go walking alone in an isolated but not remote location in my suburban area now that I don’t have a large dog anymore, but would 100% go hiking alone if I were physically up to it.

    3. RC Rascal*

      Does anyone remember about 20 years ago when a serial killer murdered female campers in Yosemite? This is a very real concern.

      1. Dawbs*

        Hell, 30ish years ago, my family was in the Grand Canyon while an escaped convict was loose and we had our camper stopped and searched while a whole lot of men with guns kept aim, at least3 times. (He kidnapped a DIFFERENT family and got through the roadblocks. Danny ray horning if you want to follow the Google rabbit holes)

        (Also we almost had an incident because the protective but normally VERY gentle dog was already on high alert because there were tense people near her kids and THEN the national guardsman/copwhoever’s, that she didn’t like , opened the closet where cookies and dog treats were kept and she went nuts and had to be held )

        Only time I remember my dad getting out shells for a gun in all our trips. Although he tried not to let us knoe

  36. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    Since I don’t think anyone has brought it up yet, let me also raise the issue of personal safety. I enjoy camping and will sometimes do it alone (way out in the woods) and sometimes do it at a state campground (with friends and family). But both together? With only a thin layer of canvas between me and whatever meth-y drifters are wandering around the campground? I’ve had three separate women in my extended social circle murdered on camping trips. (I know it’s rare, but that’s a real number – three people, two incidents.)

    No bloody thank you.

    1. Two Cents*

      Exactly. I have read too many Reddit outdoors stories to blithely believe no one would bother me while out in the woods.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Sorry – I didn’t mean to co-opt those stories or fish for sympathy. It might have been inappropriate to use other people’s stories, since I wasn’t close to any of the victims. Though one of the two incidents was very much in the news when it happened.

        I was mostly just trying to make the point that camping is not always safe for women. Or men, actually. There were a couple of murders this past Spring on the Appalachian trail by a guy who was well known for harassing and assaulting hikers.

        1. ACDC*

          Well DAMN! It is a great point to bring up safety for a woman camping alone, even if what happened to your friends is rare.

          ***Also really sorry to hear about your friends, that is horrible.

  37. Guacamole Bob*

    I love camping, and I’ve happily camped for non-work retreats and things, but this would be a total nonstarter for me even though I have pretty good camping gear. I need to arrive at business meetings having showered, not smelling like bug spray or wood smoke, and with my devices charged.

    Also, what does your boss suggest in the case of inclement weather? It’s one thing to spend a night in a tent in nice weather, and quite another when it’s pouring rain, or there’s a thunderstorm, or during a sweltering muggy heat wave or unexpected cold snap.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Somebody should actually go to a meeting like this. Just burst in, soaking wet, twigs sticking out of your hair, reeking of OFF and BO, pack on your back, looking like you’re Wilma Flintstone and just fell down a mountain.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        +1 for malicious compliance, lol. Sorry I can’t present, my laptop died after I was working on my slides, and I couldn’t charge it because I’m sleeping in a damn tree.

      1. JustaTech*

        As someone who only ever camped in the rain (until the last two trips), trying to camp in the rain is the worst. Maybe you get the tent up (in the dark) before it starts raining, but then you’ve camped in a runoff (because it was dark) and now every single thing you brought is soaked. Among other things, that’s a super fast ticket to hypothermia, even if the air temperature isn’t all that cold.

        There is exactly 0 ways you would look presentable.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          You need way better camping gear if it might rain. I went on many happy camping trips in fair weather in a $20 tent from Target, and then discovered the hard way how not waterproof it was. Fortunately that was a night I was camping at a retreat center thing and was able to move inside to crash on someone’s floor, but it was still a pretty rough experience. No way is it reasonable to ask someone to risk that for work.

          1. Smuckers*

            Cheap tents are cheap partially because they don’t seal the seams at the factory. We’ve bought a few cheap tents for car/family camping, and we just seal the seams ourselves.

            That tent is totally salvageable, you’ll just need to put a little elbow grease into it. :)

            This is one of those things that most non-campers would have no idea about, which is why this whole idea is so ridiculous. Sending novice campers out into state parks for business trips is just a recipe for leaking tent seams and other disasters.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              That tent is long gone, given away on Freecycle to a woman who wanted it for her kid to sleep out in the backyard – for which it was perfect. We upgraded to something with much more robust rain fly before a multi-week camping road trip.

    2. Willis*

      Same for me. I literally can’t imagine anyone who, even if they were ok doing this themselves, would think this is an acceptable thing to present as business travel.

      Forget hitchhiking, OP’s boss might as well say we can’t afford plane tickets but please just run fast and flap your arms. Cause that seems about as suitable a plan for flight as this does for accommodations.

  38. 8DaysAWeek*

    Oh my O!!!! NO to all of this and I would have ZERO hesitation pushing back or marching to HR with a few co-workers.
    I am an experienced tent camper, scout leader, etc. and I would NEVER go for this.
    State parks vs a cushy campground have WAY different bathing facilities and security. Even in the fanciest of campgrounds, you can’t get yourself clean enough in those showers. In the summer those bath houses are so hot. And I’m sure you want to show up for a meeting with mosquito bites (or worse) all over you. And if you have to travel during winter you will be showering outside, essentially! My god! Not to mention all the crap you have to haul for a camping trip.
    I also have a back condition that unfortunately limits my number of tent camping trips per year. Are they willing to pay workman’s’ comp when you wake up paralyzed from sleeping on the ground???

  39. Two Cents*

    I’d love to see what this company would do if the people that they *forced* to camp got hurt in an accident, got injured by wildlife, or (as sometimes happens in the woods) got assaulted by another camper. They’d probably say it was the EE’s fault for not having a camper/RV to stay in.

    1. Weyrwoman*

      I’m glad someone else mentioned injury-by-wildlife! How would this org handle a workman’s comp claim of “got stung by a bee/scorpion” / “got bitten by a mysterious something and now it oozes” / “was attacked by a bear and lost all the gear/company property”? What happens when the campsite is evacuated due to environmental hazard from the weather or something?

      I have so many logistical questions about this quite aside from the “need to buy camping gear” aspect.

  40. CupcakeCounter*

    Nope.
    I don’t own a tent nor do I plan on purchasing one.
    I don’t own a sleeping bag nor do I plan on purchasing one.
    I don’t own an air mattress nor do I plan on purchasing one.
    I require indoor plumbing and electric lights.
    And a door that locks.
    No donor is going to be impressed by me staying in a tent in a state park and decide that my nonprofit is the only one that “cares about the environment and conservation efforts” because I show up rumpled, exhausted, and faintly smelly. What they will think is that staying in a tent before a business meeting is banana crackers.

  41. Pickaduck*

    Sometimes I read this column just to keep me from quitting my job, if only to say Well at least they’re not *that* bad…

    1. noahwynn*

      I actually did read AAM everyday to convince myself not to just quit my previous job while plotting my escape from there.

    2. Ghost of a Ghost*

      You’re not the only one. I hate my job (love my work) But it’s the best place I’ve ever worked. At least I don’t have to worry about my boss hitting me (OldJob) or telling me every day that I’m “bringing down the property value of the office” (one of many college jobs). Every time I start considering quitting because I’ve been earning under minimum wage due to the number of hours I work, I hit “surprise me” and remind myself things could be so much worse. I just have to work like it’s 2008.

  42. CheeryO*

    Yeah, no, I work for a state environmental agency with a very limited travel budget, and camping is not and would never be a thing. If we can’t afford a hotel room for each person, we don’t go, period. People are encouraged to do things like take a train instead of flying, but only when it makes sense. The idea of preparing for even the most casual work meeting after a night of camping makes no sense whatsoever, and that’s assuming that you’re someone who likes to camp, can sleep decently while camping, and has all the required gear with which to camp.

  43. Rockin Takin*

    If the employee does not own a tent, will the company purchase one for use?
    A backpacking tent (where you cannot stand up in it and it’s lightweight) can range anywhere from $200 to several thousand dollars.
    A car camping tent (where you can stand up and it is much heavier) can still range from $150 to around $1000.

    This does not include a sleeping pad ($100-500), a sleeping bag ($100-1000), cooking supplies, camping supplies, etc.

    The other concern is during the summer if there are heat advisories. Usually tent camping is not recommended during heat advisories due to the health risk. You could possibly bring that up as well, that it’s a literal health risk to tent camp in those situations.

    I LOVE camping and backpacking, but I would not want to try that on a work trip. Both of those things are roughing it and just not practical for work trips.

      1. MasterOfBears*

        And if they purchase bottom-of-the-barrel gear to save costs, it’s just going to blow out and need replacing after a season of use, so there’s your environmentally friendly out the window.

      2. Rockin Takin*

        My whole backpacking kit is probably worth $2500, and I buy mid range gear. Even car camping, that adds up quick.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Do the cabins (for the winter) have heat? That’s usually why they’re closed in the winter. Another reason this could be very dangerous.

      1. Rockin Takin*

        Oh good point. Since the OP mentioned having to bring their own bedding, it’s probably a rustic cabin. I’ve stayed in unheated cabin before in the winter. It is not the most comfortable, especially if you do not have cold weather gear.

  44. Syfygeek*

    This seems like the set up for all kinds of horrible. What could possibly go wrong with camping in what will be a fairly deserted state park in the winter?

    Bad weather
    Bears
    No internet/cell phone service
    Jason and/or Freddie Kruger
    Bears
    Car trouble
    Bears

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      No running water
      Bears
      Coyotes
      Bears
      Equipment theft
      Bears
      No food – because it was eaten by bears

      1. Chinook*

        You forget squirrels, raccoons, mosquitoes and black flies, all of whom can eat either your food or you (albeit in smaller chunks)

          1. Quill*

            One of my brownie troop leaders used to tell the story of how she led a midnight scavenger hunt / orienteering and search and rescue training for her middle school girl scouts for several years, which involved her walking out to a spot in the woods with a blanket, a flashlight, and a novel and waiting for the girls to come “rescue” her.

            One year a skunk decided to hang with her and she spent several hours not moving at all, and then never did the activity again. :)

        1. Quill*

          Raccoons once raided my family’s child-proof cooler and trashed our camp site while having a wild s’mores and hot dog party.

        2. JustaTech*

          And wolves! The last time I went “real” camping (not in a field with 100+ other people) my friend cheerfully mentioned that the park/forest land we camped in was right next to the territory of a brand-new wolf pack.
          “Wolves! You didn’t tell me there would be wolves!”
          “It’s fine, they didn’t bother us, they generally don’t bother humans.”
          “You didn’t tell me! I didn’t read up on what to do about wolves while camping/hiking!”
          I might not be a total city girl, but I’m also no mountain woman and I know it.

      2. Daniela*

        Why is no one mentioning snakes?? I would rather face a bear than a snake. But I’m a citygirl and don’t generally have to confront any wildlife at all. Both sound terrifying.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Unless you’re an area with a lot of poisonous snakes, they’re probably not a danger.

          1. Quill*

            Most people probably should err on the side of “never approach a snake you don’t know for certain is non-venomous” though.

    2. Bluebell*

      Spiders. And of course, bears. If you haven’t read it already, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods has a hysterically funny passage where he is in his tent trying to remember which strategy is which for brown vs black bears.

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        “Trust me, if confronted by a brown bear, you may as well run. If nothing else, it will give you something to do for the last seven seconds of your life.”

    3. Daffy Duck*

      I will take bears, wolves, and bees over people any day. I love camping but I still wouldn’t tent camp on a business trip. There is no way I could be office presentable tent camping and charging laptop/cellphone etc. is problematic. No guarantee of a good night sleep. Camping areas in more populated places (close to cities/towns) often have issues with theft, not to mention higher ratios of homeless/mentally ill people (who are often just trying to get by but I am not going to know which one is peaceful and who can become violent when triggered).

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’d rather see bears than camp in New England during black fly season. When the rangers are wearing bug nets, you know it’s bad. Bears will mostly head for the hills when they spot you – the millions of black flies *will* *not* *stop* biting and DEET does next to nothing.

    5. Vicky Austin*

      Please tell me I’m not the only one having flashbacks to Stephen Colbert’s old show on Comedy Central.
      BEARS!!!!!!!!

  45. Ruth (UK)*

    I camp regularly (more than 10 times a year and across seasons) as I perform at events such as festivals and often camp on site … I still wouldn’t be ok with a workplace asking me to camp in the OP’s situation…

    1. Chinook*

      Having had family and friends work in places where any civilization is over an hour away, I see that as the onky reason for camping being an option.

      But, even then, if people need to be there for anything longer than a week, the company needs to pay for a work camp to be transported and setup and have it include running water, electricity and a cook. There are companies that supply this service for a reason.

  46. Sabina*

    So, in this camping scenario, where am I supposed to plug in my C-PAP machine, which I need to not, you know, die in my sleep. Also, too, BEARS.

    1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

      Oh no problem. You can either jury-rig a hook up for your C-PAP to your car’s battery, or just spend several hundred of your own, likely not reimbursable, money to buy a travel C-PAP with battery pack.

      And a second one for the bear.

      1. Cherith Ponsonby*

        I’ve got what is essentially a huge battery that will run my regular cpap machine at high pressure for almost 8 hours (then it takes about 8 hours to charge up again, at least it feels like it).

        Can’t help with the bears, though. We only have drop bears here in Australia and they’re easily repelled with Vegemite :)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Run a power tap off the boss’s RV. If she gets a flat battery then she might realise what a daft idea it was :p

      (I’m joking btw. My response would be ‘not unless you can get me Thor to power my needs’)

  47. AnotherAlison*

    I agree this is ridiculous. New job time, I think. I don’t even mind camping, but camping is for when my daily plans are a float trip vs. business/work stuff.

    On the other hand, there is a certain type of person whose dream job would include tent camping. The NP might consider just being upfront about this and recruiting those people once this group quits.

    1. Quill*

      Even for those organizations, the fact that they’re suggesting this for presumably in-town fundraising meetings is bannannas.

      Camping at work tends to go with working where you camp!

  48. Budgie Buddy*

    UGHHHH I’m thinking of the people who would have to disclose that they use a CPAP which plugs into a wall or some other private medical condition that’s not compatible with camping in a tent. (Someone above mentioned chronic pain.) This makes me so mad.

    1. Poppy the Flower*

      Oh I’d 100% be getting a doctor’s note. I have multiple legitimate health reasons why I don’t tent camp then there are safety concerns as a petite female. I’ll “camp” in an air-conditioned cabin with real beds and running water lol.

  49. Phony Genius*

    Is this “small environmental/conservation nonprofit” an extremist group? Because it sure sounds like it. “Affiliated with a state agency” could mean a very loose affiliation, so this is possible. They may think they can further their position (or “agenda” if you prefer) via the optics that their employees absolutely minimize their impact on the environment. If this is the case, they might not be willing to bend. From the high turnover that you mentioned, I think this is likely.

  50. Points for anonymity*

    Oh my god. I would absolutely refuse to do this.

    I don’t have any physical conditions that make camping uncomfortable [well, more uncomfortable than it ALREADY IS] but I do have a mental health condition, one of the symptoms of which is over-average tiredness due to bursts of adrenaline. If I have a big work meeting I absolutely have to be well-rested and stress-free. This is so crazy and I can’t believe that nobody has considered any of the many, many reasons why it may not be suitable.

  51. No Tribble At All*

    And because this hasn’t been mentioned — the state cabins have bedbugs???!?! Your boss would require you to stay at a place with a known bedbug infestation? I’ve seen someone try to bring a lawsuit against a camp that stayed open despite knowing they had a severe infestation and gave many people (myself included) a whole bunch of super fun camp buddies.

    I know we’ve had debates about those bugs in these comment sections, but — oops, boss, I’m not used to the fireplace in the cabins, and I “accidentally” burned down your bug-infested shack.

    1. Shadowbelle*

      “Your boss would require you to stay at a place with a known bedbug infestation?”
      Sounds like the basis for a lawsuit right there. And I mean against the boss and the company that employs her.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      The one and only time in my life I went camping I ended up with fleas. Still no idea what creature they came from!

    3. Camp Crystal Lake*

      You haven’t camped until you get chiggers. You pretty much have to set fire to all your clothes to get rid of them. And the itching!

  52. RVA Cat*

    Seconding all of this, but also – requiring employees to camp (and have the gear and experience to do so) would mean not hiring people who represent urban populations that are often *the most impacted* by pollution…?

  53. Buttons*

    After 20+ years in the corporate HR world I thought I had heard everything. JFC, this is insane. I am an avid and frequent camper, but there is no way I would be camping while working! I mean, I guess MAYBE if I had a luxury RV, but seriously. This is insane.

    1. Mags*

      My Dad tells the story about how when he had to relocate from Atlanta to San Francisco for a jobm he took his time, spending two weeks meandering around before arriving. He showed up to Reimbursements with a stack of hand-written receipts from campsites, state parks, and national parks, most of which were $3 a night (this was the 80’s). The admin literally didn’t know how to even submit them and people kept calling my dad asking if there were typos in his reimbursement forms (“$3? are you sure it’s not $30?”)

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I did that, pretty much!! But with hotels instead of campgrounds because I’m old and creaky. :)

        When my family moved from Maryland to Seattle fifteen years or so ago, we relocated at the expense of my husband’s new job. The car has to be transported somehow, and I first got a few quotes for shipping it, then calculated up what it would cost to drive it cross-country myself (after sending husband, kids and dog ahead by plane). Gas, lodging, meals on the road, all totalled almost exactly the same as the vehicle shipping cost would’ve been… so I contacted the HR person in charge of relocation reimbursement and asked, “Do you care which way I do this?” She said, “Not as long as you keep your receipts! Go for it.”

        So I did, and had a really amazing two-week transcontinental road trip at the expense of my husband’s new employer… all pre-authorized and everything. There was zero problem when I submitted hotel and gas receipts from across America for reimbursement, and it yielded some of my favorite memories of a lifetime.

  54. Square Root of Minus One*

    Wow. New low in the cheap territory.
    Second “worst boss of 2020” contender and there are still 49 weeks left.

    1. Threeve*

      I think that in addition to “worst boss” we need a category for “most obliviously self-centered boss.”

      This lady, the boss who thinks it’s “inspirational” to talk about her sister’s childhood trauma, the rich guy who gave a long speech about his horses…

        1. misspiggy*

          It’s getting to be like the Oscars! There could be a ceremony and everything (cue cartoon presenters in glittery dresses)

  55. Data Nerd*

    Oh, this brings back memories. My first job out of college was at an environmental conservation non-profit, and my boss always made me camp when I traveled for work. It was a huge point of pride for him (he camped for all work travel as well)! I love camping with friends on my own time, but I absolutely hated having to camp for work. We traveled a lot during the summer, and I felt constantly exhausted. I was turning down offers to camp and travel with friends on weekends just because I missed my bed so much.

    There was one night where I had to camp alone and there was a crew of rowdy, drunk men who kept approaching my campsite and trying to get me to hang out with them. I am a women and this made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I finally got fed up and drove to the nearest town to book a hotel room. My boss got huffy when I asked for reimbursement, but approved it when I hinted that denying my request could be seen as illegal gender discrimination. I left that job a month later.

    Looking back, that was just the tip of the iceberg with how out of touch that org was with professional norms. I appreciate the work that they do, but it was not the right working environment for me.

      1. Data Nerd*

        Yeah, that org is still alive and well! Even though the ED is super out of touch with most professional norms and was a horrible manager, he’s actually terrific at fundraising.

      1. Data Nerd*

        Ha! If it makes you feel better, the org is a very small and niche one. Unless you live in a particular area of a particular US state, you’ve probably never heard of it.

        To be honest, I appreciate the work that they do as an organization, and I wouldn’t want people to stop donating to them. They definitely have management issues, but I was also not a good fit for them. When I interviewed with them, the writing was on the wall about what kind of culture they had, and I was just too naiive (and blinded by how cool I thought it would be to work there) to fully understand what that would mean.

  56. Ann Furthermore*

    This is insane. I’ve got a mental picture of showing up at a conference or a client site smelling like a campfire, because any time you go camping, everything you take with you ends up being permeated with that smell.

  57. Mags*

    I have first hand knowledge about camping during business trips:
    I travel quite a lot for work, so sometimes I try to schedule work and personal trips right next to each other (since it saves money for me and my employer). There have definitely be times that I have slept in a tent on a Sunday and had a Monday morning meeting. If you’re very good and you stay at a campsite that has a shower, it is definitely doable, but I’ve also spent hundreds of nights in a tent. When my colleagues (those that don’t know how much of a hippie I am) find out that I spent the night camping, they’re always shocked. It’s very awkward for customers too! I don’t bring it up unless asked directly, but it gives the impression that my employer doesn’t want to pay for me to sleep in a bed. I usually have to say something like: “Well, OF COURSE they would have paid for a hotel, but I was coming from from personal travel and I have camped for entire summers, so I’m comfortable with it.”

    Anyway, I’ve done it, I enjoy it, it’s awkward to explain to co-workers/customers, and I would never expect people to follow my lead.

  58. Formerly Ella Vader*

    I love camping by myself in a tent — but last September I tried camping in a provincial park as accommodation while I attended a training workshop (not for my paid job) during the daytimes, and it was kind of miserable. I was disappointed because I always thought that would be a great frugal combination. But to be at the workshop on time looking well enough groomed that people would take me seriously was a challenge (everyone else was either staying in a nice hotel or commuting), and then I wasn’t getting back to the campground until dusk, meaning that it was hard to enjoy cooking and eating. I couldn’t make notes or read for the next day’s session. Also, camp housekeeping is time consuming, and having to strike a whole campsite and pack out before attending the last day of the workshop meant that I really didn’t get enough sleep.

    Terrible idea.

  59. Governmint Condition*

    I once met with somebody from an environmental agency who clearly had a personal agenda. She was taking a position on a matter related to both our agencies that was quite extreme, and beyond that of her own agency. When it became impossible to move a project through because of her position, higher-ups at both agencies became involved and helped correct the situation. (And I think they moved her out of that position.)

    Based on that experience, I would first check if the boss’s e-mail is based on their own position, or if it came from higher up. It will help identify who you can try to push back to, and whether you can expect any success. (If the boss is the head of the nonprofit, it may be a lost cause.)

  60. Sara without an H*

    I don’t believe the governor requires state employees on travel to camp.

    I don’t believe it, either, and I’ve worked for state universities most of my life. Even in my last job, in Large Western Square State, state employees might be required to share rooms, but mandatory camping? Never.

    I strongly suspect that this is the private madness of the OP’s boss. (No wonder she has turnover.) Time for a quiet chat with the nice folks in HR.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve only ever worked for government agencies, and I’ve never even heard of a governor who requires employees to camp for work travel.

  61. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    I too have had jobs where camping on site was standard, but that was for a field job and we still had access to running water and electricity, and we weren’t on our own.

    Camping requires skills and knowledge that not everyone has. Depending on the park I’m not too worried about other people, but the wildlife can be hazardous and if you’re not used to the various innocent but scary sounds you will not sleep well at all.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      All sounds camping at night are either:
      A) Bears
      B) Serial killers
      C) Serial killer bears

      It is known.

      1. Quill*

        Once in a while it’s a troop of enormous raccoons breaking into your car for food.

        To pay off the bears

  62. Heidi*

    Is it at all possible that you all are being pranked? “Oh, hahahahaha! Good one boss! Can you imagine the complaints/mass quitting/complete lack of professional decency if this were real?”

    Seriously though, who is this “we” that the boss is referring to when talking about the camping? Is there anyone else at the job that you could ask about this policy? Perhaps there are a couple of people who are really into it, but it’s not truly expected of regular employees.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      I was just thinking this. Or perhaps Allison is pranking us?! How could this possibly be real???? But then I remember what site I am reading and how way too many of these weird letters are just all too real!

      1. MasterOfBears*

        You definitely run into this mindset in ecology/conservation fields. Obviously most people get into it because they really care about the issues, but there’s a smattering of the “save the planet” types who just take it way too far. Usually they either burn out or chill out as time goes by, but every once in awhile someone carries it through into leadership and…this happens.

        (See also: project lead at my organization who tried to insist that we make our Americorps interns come to work on CHRISTMAS to do some (low priority, non-time sensitive) surveying…because we wouldn’t have to pay the interns holiday overtime. She was genuinely confused when my boss informed her this would be, quote, “the one dick move to rule them all.”)

        1. Quill*

          TBH this is one of the reasons I can’t get a job in my field of study, environmental science: I’m not physically capable of doing long term field work, nonprofits who might need my science skills are both hard to find in my neck of the woods and sometimes have this sort of attitude, and state and government jobs in environmental science haven’t been plentiful anywhere local to me…

      2. Dragoning*

        There was that one letter a while back where they were expected to stay in the office. Or the CEO’s house. I can see it.

        1. Heidi*

          Those are super weird, to be sure, but in those cases, the employees could still have access to WiFi and plugs for their devices that they might need to do their jobs. Also indoor plumbing, which I guess is not strictly necessary for work, but expected in a way that goes without saying (until now, I guess). This camping thing seems completely counterproductive for jobs like PR, fundraising, and outreach, where people need to be able to contact you.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          One of my friends got told by his boss to sleep in the server room (‘it’s air conditioned and it’s summer!’) once so yep, I can believe this.

          (He did actually sleep one night in the server room but that’s an open thread story)

  63. UbiCaritas*

    If you have to travel for business, it’s a BUSINESS EXPENSE. If the business can’t afford it, then don’t travel.

  64. Color Me Dubious*

    This HAS to be a (very poor) practical joke on behalf of the boss – some sort of new employee hazing. Otherwise, they would have mentioned it in the interview/hiring process.
    If this is legit, I will eat my (camping) hat.

  65. Anon for this*

    My first thought, as a program manager at a state environmental agency, was: WHAT????

    Not even “what is this NGO doing?” but “what is this state agency doing.” Because in our neck of the woods, camping reservations, especially for camper cabins, are very sought-after. It’s not only extremely likely the NGO wouldn’t be able to find a space unless they’d booked months in advance for sought-after parks, but the idea that we’d give vouchers and encourage this would NOT be encouraged by the public.
    If this agency’s campsites are empty enough that this isn’t an issue, man they’ve got other problems. And maybe they do, since they’re apparently okay with providing vouchers to the NGO out of their parks revenue stream, rather than reimbursing for totally normal travel costs. Wow.

    We do have staff who choose to camp out at some parks when we’re doing retreats, it’s not unheard-of. It’s their own choice when it happens; most of the rest of us are in more standard lodgings thank you very much. I also know NGOs that do field work that require camping– that’s normal enough. But as a travel standard? No. No. Ten THOUSAND times no.

    1. Observer*

      Well, the at least one of the parks involved clearly has problems – the boss has mentioned their recurring bed bug problem.

      1. Anon for this*

        Hah, good point. Though I would hope the agency in question told the boss that so that the boss WOULDN’T have their employees camp there.

    2. KR*

      I thought this too. Many National and State parks near me book up their campsites very quickly. If this organization was coming out here for a work function they would not be able to find a campsite if it isn’t during the summer (and 110+ every day…).

    3. Dragoning*

      Ooooh, oh no, what if this was some kind of “perk” for the NGO employees for their time off (since non-profits oftentimes try to supplement the wage gap with them) and the boss was like “excellent, let’s use this for business travel!”

      1. Anon for this*

        Well then I’d REALLY question what that state agency is doing! At least here, we state employees don’t get vouchers for our parks, much less hand them out to our NGO partners as perks. It’s both an ethical (no using our positions for private gain) and a public perception (putting our/our partners desires above public access) issue. But again, many of our state parks are very full– and not of bedbugs!

        If I had to go with a likely scenario, I’d say the state agency probably provides the vouchers for field work on or near the state land in question, and may be unaware the NGO is using it for travel for its operational services types for general travel. Although if that is the case, it makes the boss’s move even more questionable.

  66. Chris*

    Just simply reading the title made my eyes roll. Camping? Seriously, that is not reasonable at all. And as someone who doesn’t like camping, I would have been heartsick just hearing this. Also, if you camp in a tent, you are obviously more likely to have to deal with the hurdles of nature. Bugs, the weather, animals – what if there is a heatwave and you sweat all night in a tent and bugs keep pestering you? You wouldn’t be able to sleep well and consequently you wouldn’t be your best the next day when you are at your meeting.

    But yeah, this is ridiculous. If there is a business trip, it needs to AT LEAST be in a hotel. Period.

  67. Rebecca*

    Whenever I read these weird money saving schemes, I always wonder if the boss gets a bonus for not spending it. And as it is in most cases, of course the boss has something available to her that would make this whole thing much easier (camper, way to move camper, etc). As a rural area dweller, who likes to hike in the state park near my home, I can’t imagine if my boss said I had to camp out when traveling for work. There are not enough “no’s” on the planet to cover how I feel about this.

  68. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Holy crap. Between my hate for camping and the safety factors of camping alone…I need to lay down.

    My hillbilly ass isn’t here for this shenanigans.

  69. Sal*

    Here’s what really grinds my gears about this. LW is brand new to this job, and would have had no reason to inquire about this at the interviewing stage. What is she supposed to DO about this now if her boss tells her to pound sand, this is how it’s done here? Go be unemployed and job-hunt again? Put on a happy face until the travel rubber meets the tent road, and THEN go be unemployed and job-hunt again?

    This brings up all sorts of feelings for me because a similar thing happened at my first FT professional gig–I would never have thought to ask at the interview stage, Hey, do you keep normal office hours, by and large? (Lawyer job, in an office, not Biglaw where the hours are widely known to be deranged.) Instead, only once I got there (turning down another offer mind you) did I learn that while we did work normal FT hours, we were also semi-regularly scheduled to work NIGHT COURT which means you’re working until 1 AM on your feet and at full tilt; while you could attempt to switch with colleagues, they were also all scheduled semi-regularly for NIGHT COURT and would not want to take on your gigs on top of theirs, too (four years after I left and I’m still mad). What did you get in return for doing this? Very tired, A, and B, one extra vacation day for each night and/or weekend shift worked (there was also weekend court? Also night weekend court? For which you still only got one extra vacation day), and C, a blind eye turned when you rolled in at 10 instead of 9 after a shift.

    What are you supposed to do when there’s this kind of “Why would I think to ask about this” not-quite-bait-and-switch? Go be unemployed?

    It sucks and my sympathies are with the LW.

    1. Rebecca*

      Yes! Again, who would think this in a million years? Maybe if I were working at a camping and outdoor supplies company, and my job was to demonstrate their products, MAYBE it might be appropriate to do this type of thing as a “here’s how our stuff works” type thing…and I’m really reaching here. I would never, ever dream that in an office job I’d be expected to stay at a campground, in a tent, instead of normal accommodations. And of course, these crazy pants people aren’t going to tell anyone up front!!

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I enjoy camping, but a) no and b) also no and c) the main reason I don’t really camp anymore is that I can’t drive — and partly never learned for environmental reasons — and even most relatively plush campgrounds that aren’t that far into the wilderness still require a significant drive to get to.

      2. Elaine Benes*

        Can confirm. My sister-in-law works for a large outdoor & ski clothing/gear company, and everything for that business is done indoors. Trade shows are held in larger conference centers, product demonstrations are done at retailer locations, and employees stay in hotels… there is no need for the outdoors.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I’m not so sure this was bait and switch. I am assuming that you interviewed to do criminal defense, and knew that it wasn’t going to be high end white collar criminals you were defending. At that point, if you knew that the jurisdiction held night court, it would be pretty apparent that yours were the type of clients likely to end up there. This sounds to me like something that no one would mention because everyone knew it, except for you because this was your first job.

      Not to say that the job didn’t suck. I trust you have moved on to a better class of criminal.

      1. Sal*

        “If you knew that the jurisdiction held night court”–and there we have located the rub.

        I had no clue that night court was a real thing beyond having vaguely heard of the TV show. This job pulled people from many states and schools, and of the many states I have seen crim def practiced (4-5 so far, including federal), this jurisdiction is the only one that has night court.

        like I said–still mad :)

        1. Sal*

          I also forgot to mention that I gave a new attorney a ride home from night court about two years after I started, and confirmed with him that they were still not telling people, even those from out of state and who had never practiced in the jurisdiction, about night court during the interview process. They had communication issues around this sort of thing. Or maybe they just didn’t care!

      2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        idk, this to me would be more like interviewing to be a criminal defense attorney and then being told in order to save the firm money when you travel, that you need to be spending the night in county lockup when possible.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Eh? Criminal attorneys–either side–go to court. They go to court a lot. They are in court far more than any other kind of attorney. Furthermore, the junior criminal attorneys aren’t getting cases that get the fancy courtrooms and multi-day trials. They get the small, slightly greasy courtrooms, with each case in and out fast. And if they are in a jurisdiction that holds night court, there they are. Those multi-day trials in the fancy courtrooms aren’t held at night. Night court gets the overflow of unglamorous cases.

            So what I am saying is that if you are a junior attorney doing criminal defense, this is the job. This isn’t some half-assed made-up face time BS work. It is the job. And if you didn’t do your due diligence before taking it? Whose fault is that?

  70. Observer*

    OP, check if this is something that is mandated by your org or by your boss. If your boss is the root of this, feel free to go over his head.

    In any case, I think it’s time to start planning your exit. I don’t say this lightly. But, this is NOT a small issue. I’m also willing to bet that it’s not the only issue. When a boss does something that is sooo outrageous, in so many ways, it’s usually a sign of very deep dysfunction. Which leads to another important point – You probably can’t afford to leave this job without something lined up, which means you could be here for a while. Please understand that your workplace is NOT reasonable or normal in any way. Keep on reminding yourself of this so that you don’t allow your sense of workplace norms is not totally messed up.

  71. Fiddlesticks*

    LW, I don’t know what state you work for, but I’ve worked for three different states in environmental protection agencies, and each of these agencies had UNION REPRESENTATION. If you are so lucky too, you should take that ridiculous missive from your supervisor directly to your local union representative. Making employees camp in tents on business trips, my ass!!!

    1. Arctic*

      It seems like OP works for a non-profit with state affiliation. Not directly for the state. Non-profits are very very unlikely to be unionized.

  72. queen b*

    I live in Minnesota, and even the thought of camping in cabins in the winter for business purposes…… that’s a no from me dawg. Would you rather me sit in my ice house on the lake all day???? Look, I can catch dinner for us all, too!

    1. KR*

      I’m having similar but opposite thoughts over here in the desert. Depending on the time of year, camping out here can be very dangerous due to the temperature.

    2. Quill*

      I’m from wisconsin and NOPE. Once it gets below freezing camping without the right gear / experience is a safety hazard even in cabins… And then in, say, august, it’s often a heat stroke danger…

    3. RVA Cat*

      Since the boss has a camper, this is literally the same as a boss with a yacht not allowing hotels in coastal areas – because hey you can sleep on your boat!

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        it’s even worse. This is boss telling employees “No hotels in coastal areas, because you can sleep on the beach.”

  73. TacoTuesday*

    I’ve worked for over a decade for environmental agencies, both State and private. I’ve never been asked to, or heard of, people camping. The State agencies always had a reimbursable rate for hotels/lodging, and if you went over that amount you had to justify why and get approval from your manager. Or just pay the difference yourself. I once attended a conference at a resort where the room was a State rate but they tacked on a “resort fee”. I was able to justify the extra expense because staying at an offsite hotel would require more than the resort fee in parking costs and mileage driving back and forth every day. My manager approved and everything was covered. So even the State will approve things over the State rate. I would look up whatever the State rate is and find hotels comparable to that. I’m an avid environmentalist but I didn’t grow up camping so this would be a hard pass for me.

  74. chai latte*

    My first thought was that episode of “Parks and Rec” when Leslie makes them all go camping and Tom has the most tricked-out tent in history.
    My second thought was that I’d be dusting off my resume and joining the turnover squad.

  75. memyselfandi*

    I am laughing so hard! My younger sister used to work for a state environmental agency for a large mid-western state. Like all states they had a travel limitation within the state. If an event was within 50 miles you could not book overnight accommodations. One year they were HOSTING a statewide conference and the location was 49 miles away. The state absolutely refused to allow them to book rooms in the conference hotel. So, they all camped at a nearby state park. Fortunately, denim and down vests were acceptable conference attire, but it was fairly cold. This state was in the northern part of the mid-west. I work for state government too, but ours is no where near as ridiculous as hers. The stories she tells! She took early retirement a couple of weeks ago.

  76. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    WHAT?

    My dad used to “camp” for an annual conference in Duluth, Minnesota in the summer. That is, instead of taking a hotel, he would take the family sailboat there and dock it in a downtown marina for those days. It was some process to get the government he worked for to reimburse him the cost of a slip, ha! But it was still a lot cheaper than a hotel. Think $30-40 a night instead of $100.

    He enjoyed it, but here’s the thing: he chose to do it, a large pleasure boat is basically an RV (running water, electricity hookups, comfortable bunks), and being in a marina allowed him to avoid traffic and stress and simply walk to the conference.

    Otherwise, I can only see camping for work if one is in the Peace Corps or a summer camp counselor! This is completely crazy, OP.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And also it’s his boat! You’re own travel home is a world apart from camping in a tent or ratchet rental cabin in the woods.

      That’s why the boss is so out of touch. She’s got a travel trailer while telling people to pitch tents.

      I would literally sleep in the car before even thinking of a tent. Thankfully my seats fold down.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Yeah, that’s super out of touch. Unless they all had RVs, I wouldn’t dream of suggesting camping!

        (btw, my parents and grandparents have both lived on boats in Lake Superior and the Gulf of Mexico for 3+ months at a time- the original tiny houses! Now that my parents currently live on theirs in the summer, my mom gets her revenge for my bringing home mountains of dirty laundry from college on holidays. She will visit me with a similar mountain and tie up the washing machine for hours because she, like I, hates laundromats.)

  77. NinaBee*

    Where do you charge a laptop or phone? What about security, both personal (mentioned) and for your stuff? Like if you need to pee at night do you take all your work things with you to the toilet block?

      1. kayakwriter*

        As an aside on this, I read somewhere years ago that pee-marking your territory doesn’t work if you’re a vegetarian. Supposedly if it doesn’t contain the scent of digested animal proteins, it’s not signaling to other carnivores that “Here dwelleth an apex predator.”

  78. ggg*

    I would 100% think that an email urging me to camp while on business travel was some kind of misguided attempt at humor.

    When I moved into my first office, I found a piece of paper in a file cabinet that probably dates from the late 80s or early 90s, titled “Company Travel Policies: Due to the paucity of federal funds, the following travel policies are announced regarding employees traveling on official business…”

    “Hitchhiking is the preferred mode of travel in lieu of commercial transport. Luminescent safety vests will be issued to all employees..Airline tickets will only be authorized in extreme circumstances and the lowest fares will be used. For example, if a meeting is scheduled in Washington, D.C., but a lower fare can be obtained by traveling to Fargo, ND, the travel to Fargo will be substituted for travel to Washington.

    “All employees are encouraged to stay with relatives and friends while on government business. If weather permits, public areas such as parks should be used as temporary lodging sites. Bus terminals, train stations and office lobbies may provide shelter in periods of inclement weather. …

    “…Travelers should become familiar with indigenous roots, berries and other protein sources available at their destination. If restaurants must be utilized, travelers should seek out all-you-can-eat salad bars. One plate can be used to feed the entire group. …

    So that’s what this makes me think of. No one should camp for work, unless maybe they actually work at a camp.

    1. WellRed*

      Are you sure that wasn’t some sort of joke document created by an employee in response to a boss like today’s?

      1. ggg*

        Yes, this is definitely a joke, and this is why I would think that any request for me to camp at work would be a similar kind of joke.

    2. RC Rascal*

      This policy must go back to the 1970s. Most states made interstate hitchhiking illegal by the early 1980s. Too much of a crime attracter.

  79. Quill*

    Accessability nightmare here, also, it can be harder to reserve a spot at a camping spot than a hotel room, unless you know about the travel 6+ months in advance… and the extra drive time probably makes any carbon footprint reduction this allegedly has moot.

  80. wendelenn*

    Whenever I see posts on Facebook from nonprofits soliciting donations, comments are always “How much goes to the mission and how much for (gasp) “OVERHEAD”? Look at how much the CEO makes, six figures, it’s crazy!” It’s like they don’t expect a BUSINESS, for-profit or non, to be run like a BUSINESS. They expect people to work for FREE out of the goodness of their hearts? And yes, they would probably look side-eyed at (gasp!) Hotels for a non-profit business trip! It’s all kinds of crazy what people expect from NPOs.

    1. Arctic*

      That metric for judging non-profits drives me absolutely mad. It may make sense for a small number of big operations.

      1. Quill*

        Better question: how much of this money goes to “defending their exclusive right to an entire color for their disease awareness campaign,” vs the employees and the cause?

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yes! Or organizations brag that their CEO works for free, which pretty much says “we are only going to hire independently wealthy people to work for us because we don’t want to pay them”.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Or simply, “we’re a small enough organization to be completely volunteer-run, and everything including the leadership roles are very part time stuff that can be done in spare time by a person with a full time job at something else.”

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      I pay attention to how much of a nonprofit’s money goes to mission vs overhead, but not because I don’t think they should be spending realistic amounts on overhead. It’s just that there have been organizations whose real purpose was to feed the founder’s lavish lifestyle via donations, and about 95% of what they took in was spent on “overhead,” including multi-million dollar salaries for their leadership, first class air or even private jets for the founder’s personal (not business) travel, etc. There are others which try to do what they say they do, but which have very little ability to manage their money effectively, and therefore end up bloated and inefficient.

      I expect a charity that’s asking for my money to be *reasonable* with it. That includes spending normal money on market-rate salaries for people who are excellent at their jobs; standard-to-good benefits, and all the usual business expenses necessary to do their jobs well. It doesn’t include paying for a domestic staff of twelve to serve at the CEO’s home, when the CEO don’t even do business entertainment there — they’re just taking it because they can.

      Bottom line: I look at overhead percentages, not because I want to see them as low as possible, but because I want to see them about where I would expect them to be for an ordinary, well-run business.

  81. Jcarnall*

    Um, yeah.

    If the whole staff go in a body to the manager and say “It will never be possible for us to camp/book a cabin when we are on a work trip; we will need to book a hotel room, each, with the usual business trip requirements of bed, shower, space to hang up and iron clothes, power point to recharge laptop, etc” and the manager says “Do it or you’re fired”, well, there are two options:

    – Put in a joint staff request for camping equipment. Every member of staff needs their own sleeping bag and camping mattress, obviously: plus tents suitable for two, three or four staff to share: plus all of the other gear you might need for a camping trip. Be as detailed and as lavish as you like. Add up the cost. Take it back to the manager and ask for her approval to sign off on these business travel expenses which she has said will be required of all staff.

    – Go over her head and protest to the board which appointed her.

    Do both, actually: whether or not she signs off on the equipment requests, because if she does (do not actually buy the camping equipment!) she has gone full-on loony-tunes and I don’t believe any board in their right mind woud back her.

  82. windsofwinter*

    Sorry not sorry, this would be the moment when I calmly started to pack my things, got up, and walked out the door, never to be heard from again.

    No. Just no. No way. I have experienced bed bugs in the past. Nope. And there is no way on Cthulu’s little green earth that I would ever be camping anywhere alone as a woman. I don’t care if it’s the garden of Eden itself. Absolutely not.

      1. Quill*

        Iirc that one wasn’t poisonous, so I’d probably just bring earplugs and ignore it’s dietary advice.

        The big turn-off for me for camping in Eden would be the fact that it’s clothing-optional.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Well, if the only people there are you and your spouse in the first place, that doesn’t sound like too much of a problem…

  83. Rose's angel*

    How is this saving money? There are hotels that are waaay cheaper. And if it’s not money but for an environmental benefit is there even really an environmental benefit?

  84. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I think people are looking at this through the lens of “business trip” being the kind that will meet in corporate offices and meeting clients in a suit and tie, but that might be unusual for an org that is a nonprofit conservation/environmental group. I imagine the org might be similar to the Sierra Club and their business trips are more akin to organizing/running a clean up event, march, membership drive, or running a program for urban kids to go camping or have conservation workshops.

    PR, fundraising, and outreach staff are usually expected to sort of heavily demonstrate their commitment to the mission of the org more so than say the IT person or accountant. And if so, then patronizing the state/national parks itself becomes a PR/fundraising bullet point. At the very least, there could be bad PR from being outed for staying at a hotel while marketing the importance of nature conservation — sort of like when Red Cross volunteers taking up all available hotel rooms in a disaster area while the families whose homes were destroyed have to sleep in a high school gym; it’s a bad look.

    1. Anon for this*

      They’re not patronizing state parks, though. They’re taking up valuable revenue-generating spots at state parks that the public would like to access, and they’re getting the state to subsidize it. Now THAT is a bad look. I’m not saying the organization might not be thinking that way, just that it would be a sign of disordered priorities.

      Some of your examples are the kinds of things you would expect to see the organization members staying at a state park for– because the event happens in a state park. (Though, I’d argue it’s more important in that case not to stay at the park because, again, you’re restricting access.) Outside of that, if the concern really is PR, the boss really shouldn’t be using a camper.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Well, on the taking up valuable revenue-generating spots…maybe. The revenue generated is very little to…nothing actually; I think I spent $10 at a lesser park, but sure, Yellowstone at the peak season would be more and probably full with a waiting list, so camping wouldn’t be available. There is free camping in quite a few national forrests. But if the orgs mission is to, for instance, encourage national park use or camping (like the Sierra Club or The National Parks Conservation Association), staying in a hotel looks like hypocrisy.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          Staying in a hotel for work travel would not look like hypocrisy. Employees somehow being outed for never using the offerings in question (never visiting a national park, never camping even for fun/recreation) would look like hypocrisy.

          I would bet you a lot of money that the two organizations you mention have staff stay in hotels when they travel for work. They are well-run, professional organizations.

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “At the very least, there could be bad PR from being outed for staying at a hotel while marketing the importance of nature conservation”

      This makes no sense.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I love how non-constructive and belittling this comment is. I’ve noticed you have a pattern as such.

    3. Observer*

      You know what is a REALLY bad look? Requiring your fundraising and back office staff to spend ridiculous amounts of money to do their jobs.

      And you know what is a TERRIBLE look? Requiring behavior that has significant negative ecological impacts. Camping itself does not necessarily have negative ecological impacts. Although using a mobile camper with all the amenities is much more iffy. But making people camp out instead using normal accommodations definitely has negative impacts for any meeting that is not on the camp grounds.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I think that if I saw a company or organisation that required its staff to camp when going to meetings my first thought would be “oh, so they only hire able-bodied people then?”

      Not a terrific optic either.

    5. Electric sheep*

      Yes, I wondered if they were going to meetings *in* the park so staying ‘on site’ makes more sense. I would love more details from the LW.

  85. MD*

    The last time I camped, I had the worst migraine of my life. I woke up the second morning of the trip and immediately threw up outside my tent. To make matters worse, we were on an island; so I had to climb into a canoe, where I (again) immediately threw up over the side (nearly tipping us over). I then spent the rest of the day shivering on top of a pile of everyone’s gear while we waited for the school bus to take us to a lodge, shivering outside the lunch hall because my teacher wouldn’t let me sleep alone in a cabin, and then finally shivering in my bunk until the next morning when we drove 4 hours home.

  86. I coulda been a lawyer*

    State park employee here. The governor doesn’t require us to stay in a campground but it is strongly encouraged. Most of our meetings are actually in the park, or in the small town next door, so there usually aren’t hotels close by. As one of the few “city people” in the agency I almost always stay in a hotel though. I’ve been teased by coworkers but never a peep from management.

  87. L Dub*

    But… I have so many questions! How are you even supposed to get the camping gear to your campsite? Are you driving to all of these locations? And if so, how is that environmentally friendly?!?

    I mean, I know that’s a minor concern compared to a lot of the other issues already discussed. But I just can’t process any of this.

  88. KR*

    I have curly hair so aside from the other complications with this that people have already mentioned, there is a slim chance I can look professional enough to represent my organization and be work- ready without running water. This is a nightmare.

    1. Quill*

      Month long camping trips in college are how I transitioned my hair to only needing to be washed twice a week.

      Mind you, due to humidity I still wouldn’t look very polished after camping…

  89. Richard*

    I’m confused as to why everyone’s taking this sooooo seriously (Alison and OP included). The memo says “when possible.” It’s clearly a cute idea that popped into the boss’s head and got added into a memo without the expectation (or wording) that it would be hard policy. Until people are being actually held accountable for following it (no sign of that here), it’s just a suggestion.
    Seriously, people. Breathe.

    1. Blueberry*

      I dunno, I would see “when possible” as “when not impossible”, i.e., the boss would require there to be a very good reason, by her reasoning, to *not* do so. By the time one finds out one is being held accountable there could be money spent, disciplinary action, etc.

      1. noahwynn*

        Same, maybe it is years of learning to read corporate-speak, but that’s the way I always read it too. You better have a good reason if you go outside the bounds.

    2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I think the problem is that they asked this in the first place. Tacking on a “when possible” doesn’t negate that.

      Let me give you a few examples:

      -When possible, all employees will stare deeply and soulfully into their supervisor’s eyes while gently caressing their shoulder.
      -All employees should, when possible, photograph their bathroom emissions before flushing and post them to Slack as part of our septic system compliance initiative.
      – Thursday evenings, when possible, staff should clock out but remain on site onto enjoy a slam poetry and interpretive dance workshop led by our CEO’s daughter.

      See! All fine and no problem with asking because, hey – you can opt out.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Well, the *specific* problem with any of these example requests is that they’re matters which are not rightfully the job’s business to have a voice in at all. That’s not actually the case with where you stay on business travel… the reason *that* particular request is not okay is because the power imbalance internet in employment situations is being used to demand something that isn’t a fair ask of anyone, or a possible ask of some people.

        I agree that just tacking on “when possible” doesn’t make it okay in either case, but for different reasons. In the original letter, the problem with “when possible” is that it still subjects you to your boss’ definition of what is or isn’t possible. In your examples, the problem with “when possible” language is that they literally should not even be talking to you about any of those overall topics.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      I was sent to another city to work for a couple of months. It happened that this was the same city that a coworker was from and his parents still lived. My office manager at the time who was helping me sort out accommodations said “hahaha… so you’re staying with Fergus’ parents, right… hahaha”

      That was a not serious suggestion.

      An email/memo that includes “When we are traveling for work, we try, when possible, to stay at a state park — cabins in the winter, camping ‘normally’ in the summer since most cabins are booked for a week. The state agency responsible for camping fees provides us a waiver so that we stay for free. Print this waiver.”

      This is a serious suggestion. That’s a lot of detail for a ‘HAHAHA’ cute idea.

      1. Richard*

        Yep, it’s a serious suggestion. And like any serious suggestion, it can be heard and safely ignored if needed. Until I see any counter evidence other than “The sky is falling we’re being forced to sleep in tents for the rest of our lives!” based on almost nothing, I’ll repeat: Breathe.

        1. Observer*

          Not at all. This is a serious instruction – it is NOT a “cute idea that popped into” the Boss’ head. It is something he thought about and he is making it clear that he EXPECTS THIS TO HAPPEN. That’s why he has sent them the vouchers etc.

          1. Richard*

            “Not at all. This is a serious instruction”
            Are you the OP or are you just omniscient? I get emails from my boss about things that he’d like me to do if possible, and I’ve never told anyone that I’m being forced to do them. I just tell him which things are possible and which aren’t, particularly ones that don’t seem reasonable, like this. Am I so unreasonable and so unusual?

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Not necessarily, but it sounds as if your boss might be pretty unusual. Many bosses won’t put up with that, and the OP probably knows which variety theirs is. (Also, because of the danger of losing a critically needed source of income, if somebody DOESN’T know for sure that their boss is okay with this kind of pushback, they probably need to err on the side of obedience unless they have the kind of skills which are in extremely high demand in their area.)

        1. Richard*

          “Our department gets a discount at this Indian Restaurant when visiting Chicago, so eat there if possible. Print this coupon to get the discount.”
          AAAAAAAAHHHHH MY BOSS IS FORCING US TO EAT INDIAN FOOD!!! DOESN’T SHE KNOW THAT I’M ALLERGIC TO DELICIOUSNESS?!?!

          1. Observer*

            I see my first reaction to this didn’t go through. Sorry, Allison.

            If you actually think that it’s appropriate to pressure people into eating a particular eatery that’s a problem. If you think that anyone who objects is someone who is wrong, whiny and does not understand objectively good food, that’s even worse.

    4. SarahTheEntwife*

      To me this “when possible” says “unless there isn’t a campground nearby or you can prove that you will literally die, in which case we will still sigh heavily while booking your hotel room”. If it’s actually a suggestion or perk for outdoorsy employees it would say something like “employees are welcome to camp or use RVs when appropriate facilities are available”.

    5. Coder von Frankenstein*

      “When possible” does not mean “if you feel like it.” It means “when possible.” If you travel someplace without a campground, then it is not possible to camp there and you are not required to. But if it is possible, this policy requires you to do it.

  90. Arctic*

    There are so many legal issues with this. Not only are they causing trouble for employees with disabilities but it seems highly likely they are intentionally screening out applicants with obvious disabilities who wouldn’t be able to do this. Of course, not all (or even most) people with a disability preventing them from this kind of activity have visible or obvious impairments. But a great many do. And others will mention their disabilities in the interview process on the reasonable understanding they won’t be discriminated over it.

    And every state differs, I guess, but the set-up with the government agency would absolutely not be legal in my state. A discount maybe. But giving a major benefit to an affiliate NGO for free (camping slots are significant revenue generators in the summer and cabins may not be booked 100% in the winter but there are many winter hikers) is typically a big no-no.

    Personally, I enjoy camping. And I’m not even adverse to relying on dry shampoo the day of a meeting. But I would still hate this.

    1. RC Rascal*

      This is what I was going to say. Policies like this are a D& I nightmare. It creates a hardship for anyone with disabilities, recovering from injury or w severe allergies or dietary restrictions. Also— when you are hiring there is going to be unconscious bias against groups not stereotyped as campers, or individuals who don’t look like the camping type.

      Second, the safety issues covered up thread.

    2. Observer*

      It also discriminates against people who don’t have a lot of money. The boss has just made a significant monetary investment a requirement of the job, even though there is actually not solid business reason for it.

  91. Happy Pineapple*

    Cue maniacal laughter from my bowel disease at the idea of having to be outside without plumbing on a business trip. At least bears would respect that I’ve marked my territory.

    Nope. Nope. Nope.

  92. !*

    I think the only resolution to this is make sure there is no “possible” way to reserve a camping space or cabin in one of these parks. This is beyond ridiculous for a boss, who has a camper (with presumably all the comforts of home) to request that her staff camp out for business travel! I wonder if this is just one of many (required) requests that have driven people out of this company.

  93. EmKay*

    *of course* boss thinks camping is fine, she has a freaking RV

    OP, next time she asks you to camp out while travelling for work, you should say “Sure thing boss! When am I picking up your RV?”

    (don’t actually do this)

  94. Llellayena*

    “Since I will never be able to camp for health and safety reasons* I assume the alternate is a budget hotel (or hostel) in reasonable proximity to the meeting? Or should we look at environmentally conscious hotels to maintain the organization’s conservation standards?”

    Health and safety being: Lyme disease, Zika, large wildlife with claws, small wildlife with teeth, skunks (can you imagine THAT business meeting…), other humans with less than honest intentions, weather events (thunder and lightning anyone?), sore muscles from sleeping on the ground/air mattress, injuries from setting up/taking down the tent (tent spike mallet and thumbs?), exhaustion from not sleeping due to sounds of nature or the drunk humans in the next campsite…I could go on. Can you tell I’m not a camping person?

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I went camping with my sister and we ended up in the campsite across the creek from the Boy Scout troop. They had a bugle.

          1. AuroraLight37*

            I would prefer the beagle if that was an option.

            Or Irving Berlin singing:
            “Oh! how I hate to get up in the morning,
            Oh! how I’d love to remain in bed;
            For the hardest blow of all, is to hear the bugler call;
            you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up this morning!
            Some day I’m going to murder the bugler,
            Some day they’re going to find him dead;
            I’ll amputate his reveille, and step upon it heavily,
            And spend the rest of my life in bed.”

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  Yeah, but it’s easier to shut up a bugler. If nothing else, by taking away their bugle.

              1. Meredith*

                Beagles can also be insistently loud in the afternoon and evening. And it’s a bay, not a regular bark!

  95. Duvie*

    I spent my youth camping, and I’ve spent most of my adulthood ensuring that I make enough money never to have to do it again. I can picture myself dashing around some campsite just before dawn, business heels in hand, snagged pantyhose and wrinkled seminar suit slung on cat-crooked, makeup applied by the light of a propane lantern, trying to strike a tent after an all-night rain and stuffing a damp sleeping bag and groundsheet willy-nilly into the backseat of my car before careening down a gravelled access road and fighting my way into the city in time to meet my definitely-not-impressed potential donors. Your supervisor is mandating this just to get herself a free pass for her own camper – you can count on it.

  96. FormerFirstTimer*

    OMG. I work at an NPO and never, ever, ever would our boss be caught asking us to CAMP to save money. We had a tough year last year and even then it just translated to no raises (which sucks) to fewer meetings to travel to (kind of a bummer for me, but I get it). Asking your staff to camp is beyond weird to me and I would honestly start reconsidering if this was a job I wanted enough to camp. Also, would you be camping by yourself or as a group? If you would have to go on your own, bring the whole “not safe to go into the woods alone” thing up. Do you know how many people disappear in outdoorsy places every year, never to be seen again?!?

  97. StellaBella*

    The RV camper that is used by the manager does not sound environmentally friendly. Those do not get good gas mileage usually. OP please refuse. This is hypocritical and stupid.

  98. aebhel*

    O_o

    Look, I camp regularly and enjoy it a lot, but this is nuts. Are you expected to provide your own tents and camping supplies? Bedding for cabins is bad enough, but most people who don’t camp regularly are not going to have things like adequate sleeping bags/cots, tents, tarps, coolers, et cetera…

    I mean, I did camp while I was doing food stands at the summer music festival circuit, but that’s a very specific kind of work environment where you know what you’re getting into beforehand.

  99. I Need That Pen*

    “I can’t understand why we didn’t get the account? I showed up in the cleanest thing I had and didn’t have THAT many mosquito bites showing. And that guy in the hockey mask left after an hour so I know I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted but I did ok.” No way would I do this and this is one of those times where I would enjoy hearing my position was being eliminated, rather than it being done by a grizzly bear for me.

  100. The Rafters*

    I love, love, love camping. But it’s my vacation time. Sure as he!! not for work! And I have to be off the ground for health reasons, so no more tenting for me. This would be my hill to die on. And I also wonder if they are trying to hide how poor they are – danger of shutting down for lack of funds?

  101. Junior Assistant Peon*

    If management is this cheap, you can probably expect to stay in some bedbug-infested no-tell motel full of drug addicts and cheap prostitutes if you don’t camp. Maybe camping is the better option.

    1. Dragoning*

      Well, the campgrounds are also bed-bug infested and from some of these stories…also possibly full of drug addicts.

  102. calonkat*

    I agree with all the comments here, and have a point that I don’t think anyone has mentioned (apologies if I missed it). Do all employees have large houses with storage? “I” live in an apartment with limited storage. Camping stuff takes up storage room. If new supplies are bought each time, that’s yet more waste.

  103. Elm*

    Oh hell no. My allergies alone would prevent it, but add in my insomnia, trouble regulating body temperature, and stomach issues that sometimes need immediate restroom access? I shouldn’t have to disclose any of those–none affects my work–in order to go on a simple business trip! I’ve had to do these trips before as a teacher (once on a fractured shin) and I was miserable.

    1. Quill*

      The last time I (voluntarily!) went on an all day outdoor excursion that I thought I was up for I ended up having a health problem flare up. Fortunately I did not go alone and so I had someone to drive me home, but if that had happened while camping alone? Nope. And it wasn’t even a health problem that was actively dangerous for me, it was a mobility problem. At which point the treatment was 1) not walking or driving whatsoever the next day 2) several analgesics.

      The chances of that also happening at some point while camping alone for work travel in this sort of situation make every single one of my joints flinch.

  104. Lea*

    Unless you’re a wildlife photographer, camping gear tester or some sort of Indiana Jones, camping should not be required as part of travel assignments.

  105. ElizabethMN*

    “And then there are people with medical needs that make camping impractical or impossible.”

    I’m glad she said this – my first thought was that a person who uses a CPAP definitely couldn’t do this.

    I also wonder where they’re supposed to get the supplies for camping? Do they have to buy their own tents and sleeping bags?

    Totally crazy.

    1. animaniactoo*

      To be clear, there are portable CPAPs which CAN run off a large-block rechargeable battery. I just want to put that out there for people who like camping/the outdoors/etc. and others around to realize that a CPAP doesn’t have to mean the end of all that if they’re into it.

      But that is a major investment that nobody should be asked to make for work purposes. Only for a personal initiative/accommodation.

  106. LKW*

    I think you should ask to borry your boss’ campervan for trips. Even more savings!

    If anyone asked me to spend overnight in a camp site to minimize travel costs, I’d be laughing all the way to the Hilton.

  107. Rachel*

    Can you imagine if people had allergies or a bad back or if someone wanted to shower before their big meeting??? This is just on the top of my head because WHAT????

  108. Dr. Pepper*

    Ok, I LOVE camping and I’m horrified by this. Unless your meetings are exclusively taking place in said state parks or your organization is called Always Camp or something….. wtf?

    Staying in a budget motel close to the meeting sites would actually be more environmentally friendly as you would be using less fuel and not having to purchase extra (probably disposable and/or plastic) items to take camping. State Park campgrounds aren’t known for their business convenience or central locations, which of course is entirely the point. Is burning a bunch of unnecessary gas to get your tired and disheveled team to meetings worth “free” accommodation? Your boss’s idea is beyond ludicrous. Besides, parks always need funds, leave the campgrounds open for paying visitors.

    1. Jay*

      As someone who has actually had to stay in “Budget” motels as part of work travel a great many times over the years and across several jobs, it is entirely possible that the National Parks are the better option. Watch Hotel Impossible. I’ve run into just about every problem covered by that show except being menaced by Grizzly Bears. And that’s only because I refused to go to Alaska. I have legitimately chosen to sleep in my car in a Walmart parking lot rather than the motel room I was booked by a previous employer.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Eh, there’s different varieties of budget motels. I’ve slept in a few which literally had the rain pouring in through the roof directly on me while I tried to sleep, and plenty others which were clean, comfortable, and exactly like higher-end motels except with fewer fun things like pool or minibar. It’s a wide range.

    2. JSPA*

      Spouse and I have camped at academic conferences held in or very near nature – type areas (or with transit service). On three continents and counting. We’d 100% be the “I’ll take that option!” people, if given the option. Requiring (!) camping is still the horrifying tip of the “your organisation is bankrupt, batshit crazy or both” iceberg.

  109. Coder von Frankenstein*

    This is the most insane thing I’ve seen on travel accommodations since the LW who had to share a bed with a co-worker. And that was (I hope!) just a one-off event, not an organization-wide policy.

  110. CoveredInBees*

    I adore camping but the only time I’d mix it with work is if I became a trail guide. You need to have access to office equipment, a proper shower, and a good night’s sleep on a work trip. The myriad of cost, accessibility, logistical, and safety issues this raises absolutely boggles the mind.

    LW, I am speechless on your behalf.

  111. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    So … wait a minute … does the big boss turn up to meetings in her RV? because when you’re camping in an RV, the RV is your vehicle.

    The whole thing is stinking guano, but I can’t parse this factor.

    1. aebhel*

      Unless it’s a pull-behind camper or she tows a car, in which… yeah, super environmentally friendly.

  112. Jay*

    The big question for me is when did they spring this on the OP?
    Because if it was a major part of the interview, and they were completely open and honest about it, and the OP took the job anyway, then, well, learn to love camping or quit.
    Younger me would have called this a Dream Job.
    Getting PAID?!?!!? to travel around to all kinds of different National Parks and camp on the company’s dime?
    It would have been an amazing opportunity.
    Heck, even 44 year old me wouldn’t mind dusting off the old tent and going on a little adventure on company time, at least if it was only a couple of times a year. I’ve certainly slept rougher.

    On the other hand, if this came about when their boss bought a $500,000.00 McMansion On Wheels and decided that they loved “camping” and decided to “share” the adventure with the peons, well, torches and pitchforks are not out of line.
    This goes double if it comes from the CEO/CFO/Cwhatever and is a thinly disguised attempt to get out of paying for hotel rooms by making their employees sleep in a haystack and eat roadkill.

    1. Shadowbelle*

      “Getting PAID?!?!!? to travel around to all kinds of different National Parks and camp on the company’s dime?”

      Yebbut …
      There’s no reason to think that the camping would occur at National Parks. Also, I’d hesitate to call it “camping”, which implies “sleeping in the place you are visiting”. This is sleeping in a tent instead of a hotel or motel, then trotting off to transaction business activities somewhere other than the place where you are sleeping. It’s not as though you could make coffee on your Coleman and enjoy it in your long johns while listening to the dawn chorus and smelling the fragrance of the pines.

      Being required to sleep in a tent or cabin while on a business trip reminds me of why my mother always hated camping. She had exactly the same domestic chores to do, but no decent facilities with which to do them. Photos of Mom hanging laundry by the cabin … And I still remember my 13-year-old legs looking as though they had erupted in some dreadful pox, because I had been eaten alive by mosquitos and kept waking up scratching them raw.

  113. Shadowbelle*

    Christine Lavin, “Camping”. Available on youtube. One of her funnier songs. Camping on a business trip? Yeah, no. Because Christine has it pegged.

    “… I like hot showers
    And I like ice
    The cool cotton sheets on my bed feel so nice
    I’m afraid of little animals
    I’m scared of big bugs
    I like the feel of bare feet on a Berber rug
    I can’t stand port-a-sans
    Community soap

    my air conditioner makes a real cool breeze
    Not unlike the wind whistlin’ through the trees
    I’ve got stars on my ceiling that glow in the dark
    I’ll open up the windows we can hear the birds in the park
    I’ll put Wild Kingdom on my TV
    This might not be camping but it’s pretty close
    Honey I’ll act as primitive as you want me to be
    This might not be camping but it’s close enough for me!”

  114. Penguin*

    As someone who has worked for and with small environmental non-profits, I can actually see where the boss is (probably) coming from. There is a subset of environmental non-profits (especially those that are very field work-heavy) that have cultures where this would be very normal.

    That said, even then it would not be mandated, would probably be limited to relatively local or in-state events, and definitely would only apply when the “meetings” were collaborative field work (think clearing brush, installing boundary line signage, doing prescribed burns, and other very physical labor).

    1. JSPA*

      If your nonprofit does camping – based fieldwork? Sure, for the same people who are already camping as an intrinsic aspect of their employment, many days a year. Why not (unless there actually is a good reason not to.) But the office staff? Heck, no.

  115. Sharrbe*

    “Sorry, Mike, I’m not prepared because I got woken up by a pack of angry squirrels and dropped my laptop in the lake. Not stayin in a tent any more.”

  116. getaway_girl*

    I love to camp. I recently upgraded from a tent to a little pop up camper and we frequently stay at a state park that is about a half hour out of town. I live in an area where even rush hour traffic doesn’t make for a bad commute (pretty much 20 minutes max to get anywhere in town, unless there’s an accident somewhere).

    So, factoring in that I have accommodations and a place to stay that isn’t terribly far away, I still take vacation time to camp during the week. There is no way I’m going to commute to work from my campsite. Set up and tear down are exhausting, and almost inevitably take place in the hottest and humid weather possible. I have no AC in my pop up, which is fine for a camping trip–but not fine if I have to get up and be “put together” the next day.

    If I’m camping, I’m getting AWAY from daily obligations. What the OP’s boss is suggestion is a nightmare scenario.

    1. jamberoo*

      To follow up on that: I assume employees can expense any additional camping equipment they would require in order NOT to wake up feeling like scrambled bones and tissue?

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I would need to expense a full sized tiny house on wheels in order not to wake up feeling like scrambled bones and tissue. Fibromyalgia. Heck, I feel like that about one day in three after waking up in my own bed, and I chose that mattress *carefully*.

        Camping is very not for me anymore.

  117. Betty*

    My objections:

    1. I don’t know how to camp. I’ve never done it. I don’t know what to bring or how it all works, or the presumed ettiquette particular to campsites.

    2. I don’t have any of the equipment. I don’t even know how to buy good equipment. I’m