When it comes to camping, etiquette is mostly dictated by common sense. It’s rare to find a camping ground that is completely private and secluded, so you’ll often be sharing this public space with others. The last thing you want to be known as is the campground pest, annoying other people and ruining their holidays. Make sure you bring all the essential items for camping and be willing to share them with others if they need support or help. However, being approachable is just one small part of overall camping etiquette. Overall, here are some of the most critical tips you should follow to maintain decorum.
Do not walk through other campers’ area
This one seems obvious; however, you’d be surprised by know how many people walk through strangers’ campsite areas. While the national park campground is technically public ground, that doesn’t give you the right to walk through another group’s site, even if it is a shortcut or time-saver. If you are camping with your children, remind them to do the same and follow your lead. If you accidentally walk through someone’s campsite, make sure you quickly apology and move on. It can be hard sometimes to maintain this distance when walking through dense bushland, and most people are aware of this (so they won’t be too phased if you encroach accidentally).
Keep your tent clean and hygienic
If you are camping with a large group of friends, then you must keep your tent/private space clean and hygienic. Your tent should be viewed as your ultimate companion – it keeps you insulated from the weather, provides you with a space to relax and sleep, and depending on the size of your tent, comes with extra space to store essential items. After every outdoor excursion, we recommend setting up our tent at home, inspecting it and then giving it a thorough clean. The reason for this is simple – tents cop a lot of abuse when used outdoors, so if you’re not inspecting the fabric and poles often, degradation could occur at a faster rate. When cleaning, make sure you remove any leaves, twigs or mud that might be stuck to the fabric.
In terms of what you should be using, we recommend using gentle cleaning products, like a soft sponge, lukewarm water and a bit of soap, depending on how ingrained those dirt stains are. Cleaning your tent after every expedition means you won’t have to clean it before your next trip and will ensure that your tent is smelling fresh and clean when you next use it.
Be respectful at night about noise
When you’re on the campsite, it’s easy to get a little carried away and excited. If you’re having a few beers with your friends around a roaring fire pit, it’s usually etiquette to keep the noise toned down as much as possible. Be respectful of your neighboring campers (even if they are a few hundred meters away). Noise travels further at night because it is generally much quieter, and a lot of campers often report sleeping better when on an outdoor expedition. Most campers retire around 9-10 pm in preparation for early starts the next day (e.g. hiking), so if you’re still partying after those hours, make sure you keep the noise to an absolute minimum. Others might be camping with their families and little kids, so be respectful of their privacy and need for rest.
Be aware of the campsite’s rules
In the same vein, you must be mindful of all the campsite’s rules. Each national park will generally have a guideline of expected conduct and procedure, so ensure that you are aware of your obligations and responsibilities. For example, you must leave your campsite in the exact same way you found it. This means that if you dug trenches to waterproof your sleeping area you need to be filling these in and scattering leaves and debris to make it appear like you hadn’t been there. Likewise, all rubbish must be removed or disposed of safely. If there are no bins or rubbish collectors near the site, then you need to take your trash with you. If you leave it behind, be prepared for a fine from the owners of the campsite!
Don’t chop down trees for firewood
In the United States have some rather strict laws regarding the use and destruction of public trees. If it is prohibited in the park’s rules, then you obviously can’t use any tenable firewood found within the park’s jurisdictions. However, most national parks will allow campers to use “dead” wood, which includes twigs, branches and other flammable materials that are no longer connected to a living tree. If you are unsure, make sure you check with the campsite supervisors – some places will even have pre-collected firewood packages (both kindling and logs) that campers can use.
Moreover, make sure you verify that you can have legally had a fire going on your site. During the summer months and the bushfire season, restrictions regarding the establishment of fires generally increase. Depending on the relative threat of fire hazards, some national parks institute complete fire bans. Make sure you’re aware of the rules beforehand; otherwise, you might cop a hefty fine.
Maintain a suitable distance from other campers
Another unspoken rule is to maintain your distance from other campers. That doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit or completely ignore other campers; however, it does mean that you shouldn’t intrude on others. Don’t invite yourself into the area of others, since you’ll quickly become an unwanted guest. A quick hello is more than enough, and if someone does ask you to their campsite, then feel free to take up the offer.
This is more focused on maintaining etiquette and fairness with the people you are camping with you. It’s not fair if one person is doing all the cooking, cleaning and overall maintenance around the site. If possible, make a quick roster or schedule, so all the necessary tasks are distributed as equally as possible. Otherwise, if someone likes cooking and wants to prepare all the meals for the camping trip, make sure you handle the lion share of the other tasks – like collecting firewood, waterproofing the campsite, disposing of rubbish and cleaning the tent.
What about generators?
Generators are quite a polarizing issue. Some campsites have outright banned them, claiming that they can be a nuisance. On the other hand, other grounds are a little more relaxed about when you can use generators; however, you’ll likely need a permit from the local government. However, even if the camping ground has no restrictions regarding the use of generators, we recommend sticking to the following principles. Firstly, we recommend only running generators during conventional hours, like 8 am to 8 pm. This is largely because the noise can be a nuisance for other campers, so we recommend switching it off overnight. So, if you want to run your fridge overnight, it’s probably time to switch from a generator to a less-disruptive power source, like solar or batteries. It might be a little more expensive; however, at least you won’t have to worry about annoying your neighbors.
So, we hope that this guide has clarified a few things you should be aware of when camping. While most of these tips are basic common sense, you’d be surprised how many seasoned campers forget them. If you follow these tips, you’ll no doubt have a tremendous and memorable camping experience!