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How to Be a Good Camping Neighbor

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Tents in a forestBeing a good camping neighbor helps make everyone's stay more enjoyable. To do this one needs common sense and consideration for your fellow campers, campsite and natural environment. However, some etiquette related to camping is more specific. If you are traveling with children, make sure they know some of these rules.

General Etiquette

  • Read and respect the campground's rules and policies. They have been established to protect and respect the rights of campers, the campground and the environment
  • Do not walk through another camper's site, walk around it
  • Limit noise, especially at night, when it can carry far. Obey the campsite's quiet hours, which are typically from 10 pm until 6 am. Also, during the day limit the play of noisy games to the campground's playground or recreation area
  • Camp in your designated campsite within the campground, unless you have obtained a special backcountry camping permit
  • Nails and wires should not be used on trees because they can cause serious damage to trees. It is illegal in some states to put nails into a tree, unless you have permission from the landowner. Burn damage will permanently scar or kill a tree
  • Cut down and throw away any rope that you tie to trees for canopies or tents, after use
  • Drive slowly through the campground and do not exceed any speed limits as there are usually children playing
  • Check campground rules before riding dirt bikes, atv's, go-carts and motorcycles. They tend to be noisier than other forms of transport and can cause damage to campsites
  • Do not use bright lights or day liters if you arrive very late or leave very early and wake everyone else up. Also do not leave your engine idling for more than a minute or two- diesel engines are particularly noisy
  • Be sure to check out on time. The next camper may be waiting. Many campgrounds have a no earlier than check in policy and majority have a late arrival policy. Make sure you are familiar with these rules
  • Be respectful of the natural environment; keep the trees and shrubs alive and growing
  • Stay on recommended trails when hiking. This keeps damage to vegetation and erosion in one place
  • Do not feed the wildlife as this encourages them to interact with and become dependent on humans

Hygiene and Waste

  • Dispose of your waste water into the nearest dump station or a drain. Waste water should not be dumped in a lake, stream or on the ground as it will contaminate the natural water source
  • Wash your dishes at designated areas around the campground. Campgrounds tend to have outdoor sinks for you to use. Do not wash them at your campsite as this risk contaminating the water source and creates a muddy mess that is inconvenient and slippery for other users
  • Use biodegradable soap or try hot water soapless dishwashing, bathing and clothes washing
  • Be sure to tidy up after yourself when using the bathrooms or showers
  • Clean up all food and scraps from picnic tables you use. Nobody likes showing up to their campsite to find hordes of ants and other bugs.
  • Put all trash in the proper trash receptacle and recycle when possible. Many campgrounds have recycling programs. Do not leave trash around your campsite. It is a nuisance for the next camper who uses the site and it can attract pests (such as insects, mice, raccoons and bears)
  • Clean your campsite before leaving making sure you take all traces of trash with you. Check, then double check your area before you leave.


  • Always clean up after your pets to avoid unnecessary smells and from annoying other campers who may step in their poop
  • Do not leave your pets unattended. They will likely bark at strangers, dig holes and annoy your fellow campers
  • Keep your pets away from public swimming areas
  • Always have them on a leash (6 feet or less in length) to keep them from roaming into other campsites
  • Check ahead of time to confirm the campground you plan to stay at allows pets. Some campgrounds have a no pet policy


  • Always check with campground management before starting a campfire. Some campgrounds have portable fire pits to burn in so as not to destroy the grass areas and leave burnt rings
  • Check with campground management before collecting any wood, dead or otherwise, as some campgrounds do not allow collection of dead wood. Sometimes campgrounds have firewood for sale. Before bringing your own firewood, check with the campground. Some states and counties have laws prohibiting you from crossing state/county lines with cut wood, in the hopes of preventing the spread of insects and disease
  • Don't cut living trees for firewood; only collect wood that is fallen
  • Only burn wood and paper in your campfire. Don't burn Styrofoam or other plastics and do not try to burn metal or glass
  • Do not leave your campfire unattended. Always completely extinguish your campfire when sleeping or leaving your campsite
  • Clean your fire pit before leaving the campsite for the next camper. Be careful of how you dispose of any coals as if they are not properly cooled it can start up fires

By the following these guidelines you are sure to get on well with other campers, have a great time and be thought of as a good camping neighbor.

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