Camping Etiquette – What Not to Do at Camp

Have you ever planned an exciting camping trip, and had it ruined by other campers nearby who were thoughtless, loud or just plain rude? Rainstorms, bug bites and poison ivy can be bad enough to deal with when camping in the great outdoors without having to contend with inconsiderate people. Here are some of the most offensive breaches of camping etiquette.

If you are thinking of camping out during spring break or a summer weekend, you might come across rampant party animals who are just out to have a good time. Beer cans and other debris are littered about, and loud music and laughter carries quite a distance at night in the woods. There’s not a whole lot you can do about annoying drunks at a nearby campsite other than complain or consider moving your tent.

Another breach of etiquette, which is quite dangerous, is careless smoking. We’ve all heard news stories about cigarettes causing devastating forest fires, especially during dry season. Fire in general is a hazard, so not attending to a campfire can also be a disastrous mistake. Be smart and make sure your fire is completely out before you leave or go to bed. Pour water on the fire circle and stir the ashes to make sure no embers are still lit.

If you drive to your campsite, you can really annoy nearby campers by leaving your car headlights on to provide light, either for your late-night tent setup or for a party. Have you ever tried to sleep with the glare of bright lights shining on your tent? That can ruin a night’s sleep.

Litter is one of the biggest offenses that campers can cause to others. You’ve probably heard the phrase “leave no trace”, referring to taking everything you brought with you back out again. Nevertheless, a walk through the woods or in a campground will reveal plenty of paper cups, bottle caps and cigarette butts thrown carelessly on the ground. It certainly doesn’t seem like “getting back to nature” when walking through a trash-laden area, so make sure you leave your site as clean or cleaner than when you first arrived.

Graffiti is an eyesore that can make the camping experience a lot worse too. Spray paint on rocks and trees, or carved initials are unnecessary and obnoxious. Leave the paint can at home and avoid the temptation to leave your mark on the environment. It’s a lot more beautiful the way nature made it.

If your campsite is near a stream or pond, you can pollute the water by washing dishes or bathing with soaps and shampoos. This can kill fish and aquatic life, so make a point to do any cleaning away from these areas.

When hiking, make sure you stay on the trail. Walking through the woods off the trail, picking flowers or disturbing plants, and collecting “souvenirs” of your trip are just plain destructive to the environment. Taking shortcuts instead of following main paths can destroy plant life and even cause erosion. It’s not hard to imagine how quickly pristine parks and wooded areas can become totally ruined by visitors who aren’t conscious of the impact they are making when they are careless about where they step.

Think ahead before you get in your car to drive to your campsite, and make sure you have planned to be responsible on your trip. Your fellow campers will appreciate it!