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CAMPING ETIQUETTE: Common Camping Courtesies

If you’re new to camping, mistakes are easy to make. There are countless tips and tricks that you will pick up along the way, and some that aren’t so obvious such as camping etiquette. Besides the list of campground rules listed by the host, here are some unwritten rules and old-school campsite taboos that even the most seasoned campers may be unaware of. Here are a few basic campground etiquette guidelines to help you along.

Couple trekking together
Couple trekking together

Don’t walk through occupied campsites.

It may be tempting to take a shortcut through someone else’s campsite, but in many circumstances, it’s considered inconsiderate to do so. When a campsite is occupied, it is considered as the occupant’s private domicile and implies a boundary of privacy. It would be the equivalent of someone in your neighborhood taking a shortcut through your back yard. Be courteous and respect your neighbor’s space by sticking to established paths and roads.
Friends enjoying s'mores and marshmellow together by the bonfire
Friends enjoying s’mores and marshmellow together by the bonfire

Keep noise to a reasonable level.

Everyone camps for different reasons. Many people come to escape the loud hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquil sounds of the forest. Others come to party and let loose. If you’re the latter, keep in mind that music can carry much farther in wooded areas than people realize. If you can hear people talking in nearby campsites, they most certainly can hear your music. Take a walk along the common areas to see if your music carries and adjust your volume accordingly.

Hungerford Lake Recreation Area at Equestrian Campground. Original public domain image from Flickr
Hungerford Lake Recreation Area at Equestrian Campground. Original public domain image from Flickr

Be respectful of the campground’s facilities

Most campgrounds throughout the U.S. will provide restroom facilities for its campers. Often these are “vault” style toilets similar to a large outhouse, with limited or no running water. With this type of restroom, it is important to remember that trash plastics must be removed from the vaults at great difficulty and expense. Do your best to keep them clean, as many other campers will be using them throughout their stay. Cleaning schedules may vary widely and may be infrequent. It is also helpful to leave the lid down to help reduce odors.

Starry night sky in Arizona, USA
Starry night sky in Arizona, USA

Be mindful of light pollution.

When firing up your lantern or your RV porch lights, check to see how far your light is cast. Do your best to keep the light within your campsite so you don’t blind others. Acclimating your vision to the night takes time and can be easily ruined by a stray flashlight beam. It can also be a major nuisance when star gazing. It’s important to see where you are going, but a floodlight isn’t always necessary to stay safe and may not be appreciated by your neighbors.


Leave only footprints.

Follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles to help reduce your impact on nature, especially in remote wilderness areas. While camping, keep your eye out for any flyaway garbage, especially if it’s breezy. Before you leave, do a walkthrough of your campsite to ensure that no trash is left behind. It may not seem like much, but collectively, it can make a lasting impact on the ecosystem. Learn more about the 7 principles at lnt.org

Camping in the great outdoors should be a peaceful and rejuvenating experience for everyone. Being a good neighbor to your fellow campers and a faithful steward to your environment is critical for the enjoyment of others and the preservation of nature for generations to come. With these suggestions in mind,

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