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10 Camping Etiquette Rules You Should Know and Follow

Posted by Raine Vergara on

10 Camping Etiquette Rules You Should Know and Follow

You go camping because you’d love to have a peaceful, relaxing time outdoors. But know that there are plenty of other people who want the same thing - aka your campsite neighbors.

It goes on without saying that you should always strive to be the ideal camper no matter where you are outdoors. If you want nice, respectful neighbors, be one yourself. Always adhere to camping etiquette – be a polite camper and always show respect to the campground, to nature and to your neighbors.

Here are 10 camping etiquette rules that you should observe at all times when camping:

Follow campground rules

Tennessee Valley Weekend

© Tennessee Valley Weekend

Each campground has their own set of rules and regulations. Be sure to follow them and to respect the facilities. Call ahead or ask a campground employee when you register to outline the campground rules.

If your site has a bathroom and a shower, leave them as clean as you found them. Also, never wash your plates in the bathroom sink (use the camp kitchen!)- other campers use this to wash their hands, freshen up and brush their teeth and nobody wants to see gross food particles in there!

Respect personal space

If you have neighbors, be friendly but always keep a safe distance. Park your camper or pitch your tent in the middle of your campsite, giving space to those around you. If you have an RV, park in front of your campsite or next to your tent. Never block access or park too near someone else’s campsite.

It’s also rude to walk through another’s campsite. Even if it’s a faster way to the bathroom, be polite and go around – you wouldn’t want strangers to be in your campsite, too.

Keep noise at a minimum

This is pretty common sense, but it’s very important. Campers all have different schedules – not everyone stays up late or wakes up early. Show respect to your neighbors’ schedules and avoid noise as much as possible. This includes talking loudly, playing music, talking around the campfire, kids playing, opening and closing of RV doors, handling pots and pans etc.

Keep in mind that at most campgrounds, quiet hours are between 10 pm and 6 am.

Be aware of your lights

You don’t want to be trying to sleep with your neighbor’s lights glaring through your tent or the window of your camper, right? That’s right, it’s important to be aware of your lights at night. It’s one of the most common complaints that campers have.

When you’re ready for bed, shut off your lights or set a timer on them. Don’t leave your awning lights or any other lights that may bother others on all night.

Never bring your own firewood

Any true camper knows this, but we’re reminding you any way. It may be less expensive to bring your own firewood to a campground but don’t. The reason for this is that if you bring a type of wood that doesn’t naturally belong to a campground, you may release foreign bacteria or insects that may damage the area’s ecosystem and natural environment.

Don’t throw your trash into the fire pit

Many campers find it sensible to just burn their trash since they have a fire going. Don’t be one of these campers! You wouldn’t want to arrive at your campsite, have a relaxing time around your campfire only to find someone else’s trash in your firepit – ick!

It’s disrespectful to the next campers and to the campground facilities. It’s also unsanitary and most of all, harmful to the environment.

Don’t ruin campground soil

It’s a common habit of some campers to dig trenches around their tent to help it keep secure. While it’s comfortable and convenient for you, it won’t be for future campers (it may even be dangerous for them). It will also ruin the campground’s aesthetic.

If you must dig into the ground due to rain (for drainage) or wind, ask permission from the campground with the promise of filling the holes before you leave.

Respect the local wildlife

Every camper knows that feeding local wildlife and any animals in the area is a major no-no. Do not approach or attempt to interact (for your own safety, too!) – observe from a safe distance and turn the flash off in your camera if you wish to take photos.

More importantly, keep your campsite clean at all times – store food and dispose of trash properly to avoid attracting wild animals to your and your neighbors’ campsites.

Be responsible for your family

DICK'S Sporting Goods

© Dick's Sporting Goods

It is of utmost importance that everyone in your family or all the members of your group know, understand and will adhere to campground etiquette rules. This is especially true if you have children. Make the rules clear for them – to keep the noise down, to avoid going to other campsites, to not interact with local animals etc. 

If you brought along your pets, they’re your responsibility, too. Everyone will be surely annoyed with their neighbor with the dog that was barking all night. Keep your furry friend busy all day so when nighttime comes, he’ll be tired and ready to settle in bed.

Leave no trace

This is probably one of, if not the most important rules of camping. Always observe the Leave No Trace credo. Keep your campsite clean at all times and know that any waste or trash you produce while camping is your responsibility. Everything you take with you, you need to take back with you.

Leave your campsite even cleaner than you found it. Be sure to return anything you moved or borrowed from your campground. If you moved the picnic tables to accommodate your set-up, be sure to move them back to their original position.

Most camping etiquette rules are common sense but many campers still have a hard time adhering to them. To ensure that nature and every campground you visit is respected, always be a polite and responsible camper so that everyone can have a fun and memorable outdoor experience!

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