Campsite Do’s and Don’ts

We’ve been fortunate to find ourselves in some pretty awesome campsites lately. For the most part, we’ve found that most people in campgrounds are really cool. They try hard to follow the rules and be good neighbors. We’ve had a couple instances where that wasn’t the case but we thought, maybe they were new to camping and just didn’t know some of the basics. So, here we go: our post about campsite do’s and dont’s!

Keep the noise down.

No one wants to camp next to someone who has their music blasting. Especially after the posted quiet hours. Try to keep the slamming of your doors to a minimum, be aware of how loud you are and what the posted quiet hours are. While we’re far from Captain of the No Fun Team, we think there’s a time and a place for it. Burning Man? Party. Bonnaroo? Party. Family campground? Not so much. Know what I’m saying?

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Take care of your food and trash.

Coolers left alone can bring raccoons and other critters into camp. Same for trash that isn’t put in the proper place. Be a good neighbor and take care of your food and trash so you’re not inviting unwanted guests into the campsite. In places where there are bears, theses mistakes can be dangerous and potentially deadly. Be responsible, know how to stow your food and use bear lockers when they are available.

Be mindful of your pets.

While you might think your dog is super cute and they’re “not hurting anybody” not everyone feels the same way. Please keep your pets on a leash and clean up after your dog. Nothing is grosser than stepping on dog poop. And nothing is worse than the rabies shots (trust me, I’ve had them due to a pit bull owner who didn’t have his dog on a leash and they’re the worst!) In addition, if your pet barks at every little thing, re-consider bringing them camping. Excessive barking at a campground gets old really quickly and you’ll have people either complaining about you or moving away from you.

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Respect your neighbors.

When you’re at a campsite, it’s basically your home. Remember that the same rules and social norms apply to campsites as they do to private property and homes. You wouldn’t hang out on a stranger’s lawn and drink beer would you? Don’t do it at someone else’s campsite, either, even if they have a great spot with shade or a view and you don’t.

Watch your cigarette smoke (and butts).

When we go camping, we do so for the outside experience. Being out in nature is awesome but being surrounded by someone’s cigarette smoke is not. Try to make sure your smoke isn’t blowing into your neighbors camp and always pick up your butts. Oh and always put your cigarettes out when you’re done. That’s part of good fire safety.

Practice good fire safety.

In addition to making sure your cigarette butts are out safely, please give as much attention to your campfire. Be sure to put them out before you go to bed. And when building them, be sure they’re done safely. If there’s a fire pit, use it! If not, make sure there’s a way to contain the fire (rocks, sand or dirt) and that the flames won’t catch anything above you. Sometimes you’ll need to rake out an area or arrange some rocks. And if there is a burn ban don’t go against it. It’s there for a reason!

Campsite Etiquette

Mind your gray water.

Gray water is the used water. The stuff that’s left over from your dirty dishes, from washing your hands, etc. (Not your bathroom waste. That’s your black water. More on Van Life Vocab here.) Many places have specific sinks where you can wash your dishes. Check with a park ranger or look around for a sink that’s labeled for dishwashing. Most places don’t want you doing it near the spigot at your campground and also don’t want you doing your dishes in the bathroom. Be sure to know what your campsite requires otherwise you could be asked to leave and or you could have a critter visit your camp!

Follow the rules.

It’s cool to follow the rules at a campground. Most of them are placed at the ranger station, online, on bulletin boards within the park and on brochures that they give you upon entering the park. It’s almost hard not to know what they are. Campgrounds are a place where community and cooperation go a long way since you’re often sharing space with strangers. Don’t be “that” person who negatively impacts everyone else’s camping trip with loud music, smoke or a generator that runs long into the night. And always, take photographs instead of mementos like shells, pinecones, etc.

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Campsite Etiquette Recap

Chances are that if you’re reading about campsite etiquette than you probably already are a fairly conscious camper. If not, it’s never too late to learn! Many of them are tips are common sense and almost all of them are easy to do. Are there any that surprise you? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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