Before we get into the camping how-to’s, it’s vitally important that we initially touch on the subject of rules and camping etiquette. When you are camping in the wilderness, there are rules to follow. If you are camping on state property or company property, it is important for you to review and understand the rules and regulations that are present. These are not only beneficial for the entity operating the campsite, but they are also there for your safety. Many state campgrounds do not allow alcohol. If you are looking to do some heavy drinking while in the woods, you may want to explore privately owned campgrounds where the rules are a bit more lenient. If you have a pet to bring, be sure that you check if pets are allowed prior to showing up. There is nothing worse that arriving to the campsite with your four-legged friend only to find out that he isn’t allowed to be there.
Aside from the man-made rules that we must abide by, you must also be aware of the rules of mother-nature. After all, you are in her domain now. We will talk about weather and time later on.
If you are staying at a campground, it is important that you understand basic campground etiquette. Remember that the other campers are there to relax and enjoy the outdoors experience and they do not wish to listen to your domestic life forays—whether it’s screaming children, you screaming at your children, a barking dog, you screaming at your barking dog, your portable music player, or whatever else the case may be. You must respect others and give treat them how you would want to be treated. While there is plenty of room for everyone in the campgrounds, there is no room for lack of consideration or respect. Let’s take a look at important campground etiquette that you should practice when camping on public grounds.
Camp Nomad’s Camping Etiquette
- Low impact camping means that you leave the campsite in the condition in which you found it—if not better! Some people like to refer this practice as leave no trace. This goes for the site itself (do not carve your initials or funny phrases on picnic tables or pavilions) as well as nature (do not cut down live tress or destroy living vegetation). Everything that you do will have some sort of effect upon the environment. If the campers before you left behind garbage, step up and get rid of it yourself. Sometimes in life we have to take up the slack for the ignorant and mindless drones of the world.
- Consider your actions before doing anything. If there is potential for injuring yourself, others, or hurting the environment, it’s not worth doing.
- Trash receptacles are there for a reason. Put your garbage where it belongs. You may need to separate your tins from your papers and plastics. Follow the rules of the site and dispense your garbage properly. If there are no bins for your garbage, you need to carry in and carry out. Do not leave anything behind.
- Only burn wood and paper in provided fire rings! Aluminum does not burn to ash nor does metal. There is nothing worse than getting to a campsite and finding a fire ring loaded with bits of garbage that some fool thought would be fun to burn.
- Keep the bathroom clean after you are done. Nobody wants to walk or sit in a mess that you have made. Whether it’s toilet paper or even mess that you have gotten on the toilet seat—keep it clean. Other people have to use the facilities as well.
- Quite time means that you are quiet during those hours. It is not proper to wake up other campers who are trying to sleep by the sounds of you chopping wood, shouting about, or otherwise carrying on.
- Don’t tread through other peoples campsites. This is a very disrespectful act. Would you want people walking through your living room?
- Food scraps must be removed. You do not want to attract every ant, fly, and other insect into the campsite during your visit or set it up so that the next person is invaded. Food that is not properly disposed of can also attracted unwanted wildlife.
- Drive slowly around the campgrounds. There could be children or pets carrying on about the area. There is no need to go speeding through the campground in your vehicle.
- Keep your headlights off and use your driving lights while driving in the campground at night. There is nothing more annoying that a car stopped in a lane with their headlights blaring directly into your eyes.
- Keep your children under control and do not let them run amok. Sure, kids will be kids, but parents, do not let your children run around and go into the sites of others or go pestering other campers. More importantly, if you have young children with you, keep them occupied and happy. Other campers do not wish to hear your screaming, crying child throughout the duration of the trip. This can make for a very unpleasant experience for all those who are within earshot.
- Keep your pets under control. Do not leave your dog go wandering around the site getting into the sites of others. You may not mind sharing a bite to eat with your pet, but the guy next door may not want to have him licking over his foodstuffs.
- Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. This is the golden rule. Common courtesy, respect, and common sense can go a long way.
- Abide by the rules of the campground. If you do not follow the rules established at the campgrounds, you can be evicted. If you are on state land, you can be fined and/or arrested for not following the rules.
- Keep firearms cased unless you are ready to use them for hunting or self defense. Accidents can and will occur if your firearms are not properly kept. It is the folks who are involved in avoidable accidents with firearms that will eventually lead to further legislation against firearms in the U.S.
This list is only the bare minimum of what you need to know. There are tons of tips I could provide you with here, but if you simply apply common sense, you will get on just fine. If you are unsure of whether or not you can do something at the campground, either ask someone in charge or just don’t do it. It’s that simple.