What is the perfect vacation for you? For millions of people across the world, escaping to the beautiful surroundings of nature, pitching a tent and becoming one with the always-amazing Mother Nature are the perfect family vacation (or romantic getaway). Not only is it much less expensive, but it holds immense possibility to teach your children about nature, and forces you to retreat from your fast paced, technological world.
But what happens when you pitch your tent, start roasting the marshmallows and then are rudely interrupted by camping neighbors whose idea of a good time is blaring Metallica and a downing a bottle of Jack? If their campfire is rowdier than yours, is it rude? Obviously, they too tried to escape society in order to secure a place in the woods void of sirens and interruptions and are just trying to unwind. Is that really so wrong?
The reality is that manners in the great outdoors are just as important as they are anywhere else in the world. Just because you are in a somewhat secluded campground does not mean that rules of society do not exist. However in order to protect yourself from having a vacation ruined by rowdy teenagers and to ensure you aren’t ruining someone else’s vacation, here are a few rules of the road when it comes to learning how to be courteous when camping.
Firstly, understand that the National Institute of Crime Prevention seems to think that campgrounds are fairly safe havens. However, you should also be aware while camping that the remote nature of campgrounds can also make them a haven for criminals looking to hide away. For this reason, it is a good idea to make sure that you have both the means (cell phone) and contact information for local police departments you can call in case you get into trouble.
Manners in the Great Outdoors
- Follow the Rules About Noise! Most campgrounds have policies about noise levels and provisions about how late you can play music etc. (9pm for most camping facilities) If you are going camping with a group of friends, and plan to stay up all hours of the night raising Cain, you need to ask your host campground to give you a camping location that is far, far away from other campers. Camping is the #3 destination of FAMILIES, which means that by midnight there will likely be many children sleeping. Your idea of a party is likely very different from those who have children along.
- Don’t Act Like an Animal. Sure, you are in the great outdoors amongst bears, coyotes, and foxes. That doesn’t mean you have to regress to your animalistic behaviors. If you are at a campground, that means other people are there as well and they don’t want to hear you screaming and yelling, see you having sex with your partner or watch you running around naked. Same goes for using the bathroom. Popping a squat or ‘watering a tree’ may feel like ‘roughing it’ but is not something that your camping mates will want to witness.
- Keep Litter in Its Place. Certainly, there are trashcans around the campground. Throwing your beer bottles or cans into the fire and leaving them there is not only rude, but is an eye soar. Plus, reckless and irresponsible behavior like that causes campgrounds to raise their rates over time.
- Listen (Not Love) Thy Neighbor. If the ‘man of the tent’ from next door comes by and asks you politely if you could keep it down, try to oblige. You might think he should find another destination for his young brood – but the truth is you are sharing the space. Plus, if you don’t there’s a good chance your neighbor will call security or the police.
- Avoid Firearms or Fireworks. Chances are there are rules against it. But firing your guns into the forest, hitting trees or holding a little target practice are not just dangerous and disruptive but illegal as well. Remember, that fireworks cause thousands of forest fires each and every year. If you want to use them, make sure you have permission from the camping facility, and do them at a reasonable time. Might even want to invite fellow campers to your site to enjoy the festivities.
- Be Aware of Boundaries. Don’t walk through someone else’s campsite. Also, keep lights pointed away from other campers and try to pick campsites that are as far away from others as possible. You should also stay away from setting up camp near trails or other places where your activities will be difficult to ignore.
- Turn the Generator OFF! Sure, having the generator can make your excursion to nature a little more comfortable. Remember however that generators are loud, and you shouldn’t run it all day and night.
- Watch Your Alcohol Consumption. If you are getting hammered, it’s easy to forget all the rules of human etiquette and you will be unaware of how loud (and obnoxious) you are being. Alcohol can be part of the fun, but try to keep it under control lest you become out of control.
If you have problems with other campers, try taking it up with them first – before calling security or the local police. If they seem resistant, or have had too much to drink – just walk away from the campsite and allow security to handle it. In the woods, without close proximity to others things can get out of hand very easily.
Another word to the wise is to thoroughly check out a campground before visiting. Don’t just go to the campsite’s website, but look through forums and other panels where you can get a realistic testimonial from other people who have been there. You will find that some campgrounds cater more to families than they do to wild young people looking to have a good time. Choose wisely. And if you aren’t happy with your campsite or sense that your camping neighbors may cause you and your family problems, ask to be moved to another site. One of the best things about camping is that there is plenty of room to move around and get away from people if you need to.