The Lake Gangs

The Lake Gangs

I was required to be prepared for almost everything as a Park Ranger. It might be a trivial discussion about camping fees or it might involve a serious crime. I worked at a lake close to Kansas City with campsites and diversion regions. At the lake, a wide range of events took place. Since I was employed at a lake near Kansas City, we frequently received visitors from the metropolitan area. In this kind of work you learn early that individuals bring every one of their issues, great and awful, with them from home. If they go to the lake after getting drunk and beating up their girlfriend at home, they will do the same thing. From home, individuals brought their bad habits to the campground. The day-use areas and campgrounds I worked in were known for being a little rough. The lake and its recreation areas received all of the negative effects of the big city. The campsite had gained notoriety for being somewhat harsh and wrongdoing was normal. We dealt with the problem of gang members occasionally showing up to cause trouble. There were serious wrongdoings consistently. You might only have a small fight or a party that got out of hand if it was a quiet week. The campground would occasionally be invaded by gangs or rough biker groups, causing trouble. The Officers who worked the principal shift, for the most part got to see the remainders from the earlier evenings exercises. They’d need to tidy up the wreck that was left. What remained from the previous night would be revealed in the morning. They would find people who had slipped into the parks without paying the fees for camping or picnic tables that had been set on fire as they made their first morning patrol. Once in a while they would find people who’d been left without a ride home or potentially the survivor of a wrongdoing. You just never knew what to expect in the early morning. I regularly worked the night shift, yet on this specific end of the week I was covering a shift and watching on an early Sunday morning. I would check each campsite for signs of trouble as I passed by. Both the campground and the park had a lot of hills and trees. I was in a recreation area that was at the edge of a vigorously lush slope and seemed to be the Ozarks of southern Missouri than upper east Kansas. To get to the lake below, the road wound around sharp turns and steep drops. You couldn’t see very far ahead because of the steep hills and dense foliage. With one ear focused on the police radio and the other on the sounds outside the patrol truck, I drove slowly. I adjusted a sharp curve and happened upon a camping area. It appeared to be normal at first glance. The campfire had died down, but it was still smoldering. The fire was about to go out. The nylon tent was set up and a little smoke was all the while murmuring from an open air fire that had some time in the past run out of fuel. There were food things dispersed on the outdoor table and the ground around it. Between the tent and the car, food wrappers had been ripped open and scattered about. Because many people aren’t very tidy, this wasn’t suspicious in and of itself. Numerous people would leave stuff dissipated about their campground.