Bill Headley and his group of 18 family members drove for 12 hours last weekend from Indiana to reach their vacation destination of Miramar Beach.

One of their first stops was a beach supply store to stock up on beach toys, including large tents.

Sunday afternoon as the family lounged under their tents, the group was approached by a Walton County Sheriff's deputy and a Code Enforcement Officer and told they would have to take their tents down or be fined $100 because their tents were too large.

"This so-called ordinance is not posted, does not exist on the county website, and is a cause of great concern to virtually 20-30 groups using such tents today," said Headley's sister-in-law, Jill Ley. "We will initiate a social media campaign to inform folks like us to find another beach that is more friendly to tourists than vendors. We are extremely upset about this. It is a hugely stupid idea. We can't afford $100-plus in fines for protecting ourselves."

Ley said the officer allowed the group to leave up their large 9-by-9 tents that day, but told that if they brought them back, they would be cited.

Although the family was not aware of the ordinance, and when told about it could not find it on the Walton County website, Walton County Public Information Director Louis Svehla said the ordinance and all beach rules can be found on the Walton County website and the Tourist Development Council website.

Walton County's beach ordinance was adopted April 1 and states that tents larger than 6-by-6 are not allowed on public beaches.

"Foolish rules are made every day," said Headley. "We don't have to come here. There are other beaches we can go to. We have been to beaches all over Florida and we have never encountered this. People are going to stop coming here because of this."

Beach operations manager Brian Kellenberger told The Sun it will take a while to get the word out about Walton County's new rules, and that is to be expected.

"Marketing people don't like negative messages, but we are moving it in that direction," he said.

Walton County's new beach rules will be put out on social media, in the beachgoers guide, and on the website. The Volunteer Beach Ambassadors will help also. The county is looking at changing signage, but that is quite an undertaking, said Kellenberger.

"We're changing the culture here," he said. "It used to be when you get to the beach it's game on, but our beaches are heavily congested. People used to free run, but because of the heavy congestion we have to make rules."