Your definitive guide to camping etiquette
Nothing can put the kibosh on a fun camping trip faster than sharing your outing with obnoxious neighbors.
If you’ve been camping more than a handful of times, you’re likely to have a story or two about loud, oblivious campers who just didn’t seem to have a clue about the common “rules” of camping etiquette.
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking advantage of the amenities at a private family campground, or are up in the woods in your favorite national park – most of the same simple rules apply.
Camping etiquette becomes even more important as more “newbies” discover camping as the wonderful family activity that it is. Knowing the rules can help you make lifelong friends, instead of instant enemies on a campground. It’s also important that you get the next generation of campers started right, so pass these rules/tips down to the kids.
Before we launch into the list, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
– Campers are the friendliest people on earth! Everyone is there to have fun, so a little respect goes a long way. Every campground has a set of simple rules to ensure everyone’s enjoyment. Review them with your family.
– Respect nature, too. Hey, it’s got to last us all a long time, so try to leave no trace, and don’t “use it up.”
CAMPING ETIQUETTE 101
Here’s some simple tips we’ve gathered over five decades in the camping business. Plus, we’ve asked some of our Facebook friends for their tips, which are included below in italics:
- Quiet Time Means Quiet Time: Seems simple, but it can be the Number One complaint of many campers. Most KOAs start quiet time at 10 p.m. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a late-night campfire. Just be sure it doesn’t come along with screaming kids, loud laughter and your tunes. Some of your fellow campers have to get up early and hit the road.
- “Disengage your car alarm to prevent it from going off.” – Michelle H.
- “We want quiet time so we can finally enjoy our alone time snuggling by the fire.” – Lisa M.
- Respect Other Campers’ Space: A campsite is just like your home’s yard. Don’t walk through others’ camping space, and coach your kids to do the same.
- “When we are set up, it’s like our home. Do you take a shortcut through your neighbor’s yard?” – Cathy G.
- Leave Wood At Home: Campgrounds that allow open fires will have firewood for sale. Use it. Transporting your own wood can spread insects and disease and could threaten an entire local forest. Also be aware of and respect local fire bans, and never take wood from standing trees.
- Don’t Leave Food Out: It isn’t just cute little squirrels that will enjoy your leftovers. Other, less desirable visitors will also indulge, including bears and “non-cute” rodents. Once they get a free meal, they’ll be back.
- “Nothing messes up a site faster than an animal in a bag of food.” – Lindsay R.
- Late Arrivals Need To Be Considerate: If you show up after dark, try your best to keep noise and lights to a minimum. Also be careful where you park your vehicles when you arrive, so you don’t block others’ access. “At least check to be sure your vehicle lights are on low beam.” – Mel H.
- Help A Campground Out: Everyone likes to use a clean restroom, so be considerate of others after you’ve completed your morning ritual. Make sure the paper towels hit the trash, and wipe up around the sinks and counters. If you spot a problem you can’t fix, report it immediately to campground staff. (At KOAs, that would be the great people in the Yellow Shirts!).
- Keep It Slow: Campgrounds are typically full of kids on bikes and folks walking dogs. Be sure to keep to the slow posted speed limit. It’ll keep the dust down, too.
- “Campgrounds are safe places for kids. Drive slow to keep it that way.” Matt G.
- “If you have a toy hauler RV, be sure you know the rules about ATVs and motorcycles on the campground.” – Tracie T.
- Respect Your Campsite: Don’t dig trenches or hang clotheslines or hammock from trees without the OK of the campground owner. Also, only use the designated fire pit.
- Smokers, Watch Your Butts: Cigarettes aren’t campfires. Be considerate of your fellow campers downwind, and be sure to pick up your butts and put them in the garbage.
- Control The Kids: Show your kids the boundaries of your campsite, and respect those of others. Keep their bikes off of roadways when not in use. Send them to the playground for noisy games.
- Share The WiFi: Nearly all KOAs have free WiFi, but please remember you’re in the woods and WiFi here may be different than your hot home cable connection. A quick email or Facebook post is great, but this may not be the best place to stream movies 24/7. You’re outside. Go enjoy it.
- Leave The Campsite Better Than You Found It: After you pack up, check around for garbage. Move back anything you’ve relocated, like rocks or logs. If anything is broken, like the picnic table, be sure to let the staff know. Recycle what you can.
- “Campgrounds are a great place to teach your kids lessons. Cleaning up after themselves will become a habit you’ll value.” Dennis C.
Take Care Of Your Pets: KOAs require all pets be on a leash at all times, except when using our cool Kamp K9 Pet parks. Owners need to clean up after their pets throughout the campground, and control excessive barking.
- “Keep pets on a leash to avoid problems between animals.” – Vicky H.
- Do Your Sewer Connection Right: Make sure your RV sewer connection is secure, and there are no torn hoses. Remember, your connection likely faces your neighbor’s site.
- “In an RV, things break. Check your sewer connection and hose every time you hook up.” – Wally Y.
- Put The Fire Out: When going to bed, be sure your fire is out and not smoldering. And don’t use the fire pit as a garbage can.
- Dispose Of Wastewater Properly: Dump your dishwater away from faucet water sources and in a designated place. Use biodegradable soap.
- Generators Are A No-No: Unless your camping in an unimproved campground in an area that specifically allows generators, pay the little bit extra for an electric site and plug in the RV. Your fellow campers will love you for it.
- Be Polite, Early Risers: If you’re leaving early, pack up what you can the night before so you can just unhook and go, without a lot of slamming compartment doors. And for diesel RVers, don’t rev the engine on your way out.
- The Golden Rule Still Works: It’s still as simple as “do unto others …” If you’re an experienced camper, help those less experienced when you can. It will add to the enjoyment for both parties, and you’ll experience one of the best things about camping.
Kampgrounds of America: www.KOA.com (Make all your camping reservations for our 485 locations in North America)
National Parks Service: www.findyourpark.com (This year is the centennial of YOUR national parks. Get out there and enjoy them!)
Leave No Trace Website: https://lnt.org/index.php (Great tips on keeping camping clean)
Camping Etiquette Tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qcmNRBQ33E (YouTube video)
Remember Your Manners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhGDTCE2SY8 (YouTube video)
RV Camping Etiquette: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEWHU6PHg64 (YouTube video)
YourCampingExpert.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIUDC5OYats (YouTube video)