How To: not be a jerk while camping

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I should mix things up a bit on here. While I never tire of talking about my adventures, I’m sure you all tire of reading about them at times. And over the years, I’ve gained more than just photos from my outdoor experiences. I’ve gained knowledge.

So I’ve decided to start a “How To” series of posts and intersperse them amongst my regular writings. Each will focus on a specific outdoors-related topic.

I started to write up a whole thing about avoiding bear encounters, but in light of my recent weekend camping experience I’ve decided to save that one for a later date.

Pat and I just got back from enjoying our 3-day weekend, and though by no means a horrible camping experience, the people camped next to us were idiots and it got me thinking about some of the other annoying idiots I’ve encountered at campgrounds in recent years. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or just the sign of changing times, but I went camping all throughout my childhood and I really don’t remember people being so inconsiderate.

So for my first “How To” post, I’ve put together a list of things that should be common sense – but apparently aren’t – and that will make everyone’s camping experiences more enjoyable.


Noise
This one should go without saying, but quiet hours exist for a reason and the polite thing to do is follow them. Not everyone wants to stay awake until midnight.

Mostly, we encounter people playing music or talking loudly, but one time we were camped near a guy with a megaphone. Yes. A megaphone. We also once had neighbors who were idling their diesel truck so they could play loud music and running their generator until 1 in the morning. Worst camping neighbors I’ve ever had.

Messes
You’d think this one would go without saying as well, but the disgusting messes I see in campground bathrooms suggest otherwise. Wads of hair in the sink, paper towels on the floor, water all over everything. It’s really not that difficult to take the extra few seconds to wipe up before you leave.

Same thing with garbage and recycling. It’s not that hard to properly dispose of things.

Personal Space
I think the worst problem I’ve ever had with this was a couple years back when I was camped in Canada with my mom and people kept walking right through the middle of our campsite. As in, between our picnic table, car, and tent. A couple people even tripped over our guy lines. I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to get to the bathroom or water spigots, but when someone pays for a site, that’s technically their space for the day. It only takes a few extra steps to walk around.

Along these lines, keeping your dog, frisbee, football, and any other moving object in your own site is also most appreciated. I’ve definitely had frisbees come flying at my head. And one time when I was a kid, someone’s dog peed on our tent.

Fire
This one makes the list thanks to this last weekend, in which our neighbors were being completely irresponsible. I actually ended up calling to report them for fear they’d light something on fire. They were periodically leaving their fire unattended, which truthfully was the least of their problems. At one point, they lit a giant stick on fire and proceeded to walk around holding it like a torch.

In a forest full of flammable things.

But what really pushed me over the edge was them pouring shots of alcohol onto the fire, creating extremely large flames. Again, in a forest full of flammable things. This is how forest fires start.

Please, keep your fire under control, don’t leave it unattended, and make sure it’s all the way out before you leave. I’ve seen far too much of Montana burn thanks to one person being careless with fire.

Respect for Nature
We all camp for various reasons, but I imagine that for most people at least one of those reasons is to be out in nature. For me it certainly is. Which is why I’m always disappointed to see people damaging things in a campground. Whether it’s scratching initials into trees, throwing machetes at trees (also courtesy of our neighbors this last weekend), stomping all over plants, or collecting things (which is illegal in state and national parks), these types of behaviors diminish the camping experience for others.

I don’t think most people go out into nature to see smashed plants or people’s names carved into trees and rocks.


This list is by no means all-inclusive, and I’m sure I could think of more things to add to it. But really, the important point here is that a little bit of consideration and respect for nature and for others can really enhance the camping experience for us all.

So please…don’t be that one person in the campground who everyone else hates.

Have some horrible camping neighbor stories? I’d love to hear them!

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35 thoughts on “How To: not be a jerk while camping

  1. I understand everyone wants to enjoy the river, but there are places to access that aren’t directly linked to someone’s campground. We were camping at a state park right on a mountain river, so of course, people decided to use our campsite as their route down to the river.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We were camping at a state park right on a mountain river, so of course, people decided to use our campsite as their route down to the river. I was more than happy to let these kids go down and enjoy the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That being said, one of our neighbors with kids (who didn’t have river access at their site), politely asked us if they could come through our site to go down to the river. Too bad all camping neighbors aren’t like the one you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It amazes me how many people think tossing cigarette butts on the ground doesn’t seem to count as littering… That being said, one of our neighbors with kids (who didn’t have river access at their site), politely asked us if they could come through our site to go down to the river.

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  5. This is a great list. It’s crazy how many people don’t adhere to common sense, especially noise! 😠 While camping in Joshua Tree, trying to enjoy the starlit sky, we could hear a band of screaming children playing some game at 10 pm, and their parents encouraged them! Respect for nature as well as fellow campers is crucial to everyone’s outdoor experience.

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  6. We were camping at a state park right on a mountain river, so of course, people decided to use our campsite as their route down to the river. Walking right through our campsite and past us like we weren’t even there. It is a fairly popular park so there was a lot of traffic anyway. I understand everyone wants to enjoy the river, but there are places to access that aren’t directly linked to someone’s campground. That being said, one of our neighbors with kids (who didn’t have river access at their site), politely asked us if they could come through our site to go down to the river. I had no problem letting them come through. I don’t want to be a stick in the mud, all I ask is that you show courtesy to the people who have paid and reserved the sites. I was more than happy to let these kids go down and enjoy the water. Please just ask, and don’t disregard the campsite occupants.

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  7. Hey let’s go hang out in nature and blast our stereo and make sure the generator is fully fuelled so we don’t have to go without power and let’s run around with a lit stick. Sounds like a great idea. The dog people get me pretty peeved since now I have people who have had bad experiences looking at me with my three and instantly deciding they’re trouble. People suck.

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  8. I think we should all be thankful that your examples are the exception, rather than the rule. Unfortunately there are far too many exceptions. Smokers are what bugs me the most. I don;t mind them smoking but they should throw their butts away. As I walk through campgrounds I am constantly picking up cigarette butts along the road. I pulled into a campsite once where there were cigarette butts everywhere! You would think they could at least throw them into the fire pit.

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    1. Ah yes, I hadn’t considered that one. It amazes me how many people think tossing cigarette butts on the ground doesn’t seem to count as littering…

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  9. Sounds like you have camped near a lot of rude and/or clueless people. That sucks. People walking through my site would really annoy me. I’ve mostly had good luck, especially in National Park campgrounds. Maybe part of it depends where you camp. I imagine some people at a KOA might be a little more rowdy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, location does seem to matter. To be honest, most of the worst camping etiquette I’ve seen has been in New England. People seem to camp differently out here. They bring everything but the kitchen sink and they camp in large groups and especially on holiday weekends, it just seems to be the thing to do even if you don’t camp other times of the year. At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten.

      I also think it’s because there’s not a lot of enforcement of rules out here. In the west, there are always people coming around making sure food isn’t being left out, etc. but out here, bears aren’t really an issue so no one ever comes around to check and make sure people are following rules. I might be wrong, but these are my impressions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally agree. I’ve had barely any bad experiences out west in National Parks, but have been around some annoying campers in the east. Maybe the campers out east are there more for a good time than to experience nature.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. The petty part of me wanted to start making noise at 6am when we woke up to pack…just to give them a taste of their own medicine. I didn’t, obviously, but it was tempting.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t get tired of reading about your adventures, but this is a nice change. I totally agree with your comments about basic consideration, courtesy, and respect for others and nature while camping. The incident with the fire is unbelievable! I’ve been pretty lucky so far with my camping experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We started camping in 1982. Wow, things have changed. We’ve encountered much of the same. But for us about the worst are all the barking dogs. People now not only have just one or two dogs, but three seems to be the number. Signage and campground rules say to pick up after them. Some places even provide the “poop bags” but yet, I’m the one that manages to step in the mess every time. Kind of ruins our outdoor experiences – we are full time campers/travelers.
    Good post! We’re training our grandsons to stay off of others sites. They are turning 2 and 4. Gotta start them young!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Those log torch-bearing campers sound like an absolute nightmare! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such inconsiderate campers, though I’ve never gone camping in high season/ on bank holiday weekends so perhaps I’ve avoided them that way. (Touch wood that this continues to be the case!)

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