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Camping Etiquette: Being a Good Neighbor.

May 8, 2014

20130413_093935So if you are checking out this blog, it is probably a likely fact that you HAVE spent a weekend out in the woods. And it is also likely that you probably spent that weekend in an area with a lot of other people around, at their own campsites right next to yours. Now I really enjoy the chilly peace of off-season camping, the quiet isolation of backwoods backpacking, or finding a Conservation Area that isn’t too frequented, but for most of us the typical camping experience is usually filled with the noise and life of other people sharing the campground, and the banter and revelry and family fun that comes with it. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time it is a good thing and is filled with good people. People, who just like you, have an appreciation for the outdoors. People, who just like you, want to spend a weekend enjoying life with their families. And people, who just like you, are sometimes more focused on their own moment than the neighbors in the next site over. Spending a weekend in a campground is a lot like having temporary roommates. You are usually far enough apart that you have your own space, but not far enough that you don’t affect the experience of each other.

DSCF1166As the know-it-all that some people might like to tell you that I can be, I wanted to cover a couple of things that I think are important about camping etiquette. Things to think about when you are somebody’s campground neighbor. I’m sure that all of you are the best at it already…so think of this as a refresher. Maybe this is one that we need to just have all our kids read?

Walking through other people’s sites.

Your typical campground usually consists of one or multiple loops, with campsites in the middle and around the edges…and the bathrooms can be sparse. Most of the time you will find a well worn path between the sites that will lead you to the toilet, but if you can’t find one, respect your neighbor’s space and make it a point to give them and their site a wide berth as you head off to the bathroom. You aren’t encouraging the old guy who yells at the kids to get off of his lawn, you are just being courteous.

DSCF2301Observe the quiet hours.

Man, I love the birds in the morning and the revelry around a fire at night, but not all people share the same sleep schedules. During one trip we went on with the kids, the people across from us consisted of a group of preteen girls and some parents. For the two mornings that we shared with them, those girls were up and giggling and talking loudly and tromping around before the sun was. We were so happy when they left and we were staying another night, as we knew we would get to sleep in after dawn the next morning. And stay up by the fire and have another beer, for sure…but when the sun goes down, adopt a softer voice and an easier demeanor. Your neighbor may be planning on taking his little kids on an early morning hike, and it would be rude to preemptively ruin it for them. Maybe stay in a campground that has a late night section. Ultimately, pay attention to the noise you make, especially the kids you are responsible for, and be considerate of those at the next site over.

20130414_184518Curb your dog.

Now my dog is not a social dog, but he is usually either right next to me or tied to a lead. Sometimes we will have a dog from another site wander over to say hello, and I do my best to put Max where he won’t be aggressive, because he (is a big scaredy-cat) doesn’t take to kindly to strangers. Please observe campground rules and keep your dog leashed, as is necessary. For other camping with your dog thoughts, check out my earlier post about it here.

2014-04-27 08.03.34Bathroom thoughts.

Don’t pee on the seat. It isn’t hard, just lift the seat. Other than the occasional gross shower, that is probably the biggest problem I regularly notice. And that is only in the men’s room, as it would be inappropriate for me to have any knowledge beyond that.

And don’t forget to turn off the water after you have washed your hands or taken a shower. You know that timed shower button that doesn’t give you enough water to rinse your hair? That was installed because people didn’t turn off the water.

2014-04-25 13.06.40Don’t leave trash everywhere.

If there is one thing that I can’t stand, it is garbage in nature. It just doesn’t belong. The edge of the forest, the side of a trail, the campfire ring…are not nature’s garbage cans. The only thing that I will throw in the fire, that doesn’t get put in a trash bag, are paper products. Please, please, please dispose of your trash in the proper receptacle. It is not only good for the ecology of an area, it is also good manners. Don’t be that guy that leaves his trash bag full of cans and dirty baby diapers at your site for the next family looking to spend a weekend of fun in the forest. Take it to the dumpster in the park, or if you have to pack it out, double or triple bag it (if you are like me) and put it on top of a tarp or something in the back of the car that can be easily washed if the worst case scenario happens.

2014-04-25 12.52.13I try to approach every trip to the woods with a sense that I am a guest at someone else’s house. It would be rude of me to trash the place and pee all over the seat and keep them up all hours with my partying, and I don’t think it would help the experience for anyone. Go to nature and soak in the life of it. Stay up a little later and have another beer. But respect it, and respect the other people around you by practicing good campground etiquette.


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