An RVer’s guide to campground etiquette
Monday, January 20, 2020
Unless you are about to embark on your first RV road trip, you probably already practice the basic, common sense rules of campground etiquette. They simply reflect the good manners that most of us observe in our everyday lives.
There are exceptions, however, and unfortunately many of us have encountered that rare individual whose rude or thoughtless behavior spoils a camping experience for others.
That being said, and with the dawning of a new year that promises plenty of camping adventures, let’s take a minute to review the basics of campground etiquette.
It all begins with the Golden Rule. If we expect our campgrounds to be friendly, well-mannered communities, we should make sure we are friendly and courteous campers.
Virtually every campground we’ve ever visited has had conspicuously posted speed limits, usually in the range of 5-15 miles per hour. So, good manners begin with observing speed limits as you enter the facility. Pay attention to one-way signs as well — lest you are very good at backing your rig.
Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations, usually printed on a handout sheet or posted at the registration desk. Read them carefully, as they serve as a guide to what you can and cannot do at that particular campground.
This may not be included in the rules and regs, but it’s a common-sense courtesy: unless you’ve been assigned a specific space, don’t park right next to someone if there are lots of open spaces to choose from. Campgrounds can get crowded enough as it is, especially on busy weekends, so try to give other folks their space whenever possible.
Remember to avoid walking through someone else’s campsite as well. You wouldn’t walk through a stranger’s yard without asking — so be polite and go around.
Respect should be similarly observed in common areas. Pools and playgrounds can be hot spots for dissension; don’t hog the tables and chairs or playground apparatus. Make sure too that your kid’s frolicking doesn’t spoil somebody else’s swim. This poses a further reminder to parents camping with children: review the rules with them, monitor them closely, and never let the kids roam unattended.
To some extent the same applies to traveling pets. Most of us love to take our dog(s) camping — and they love it too — but irresponsible pet owners are one of the most common causes of campground etiquette complaints.
Keep those canines on a short leash when walking and make sure they are properly restrained at the campsite. Not even the most ardent of dog lovers can put up with incessant barking, so if your pooch is one of those non-stop yappers, we suggest you leave it with a sitter when you go camping.
Finally, it goes without saying that you should be prepared to clean up after your pet. If you forget to bring your own, most campgrounds provide doggie bags to make the cleanup easy and convenient.
Keeping down the noise is another important campground courtesy. You might jam to heavy metal, but chances are your neighbor prefers Tchaikovsky. So, it’s good to remember that your sounds shouldn’t travel too far beyond your own campsite.
Most campgrounds post quiet hours so be sure you know when they are and be doubly sure to keep things quiet during that period. Outside lighting can be an irritant to neighbors as well, so turn off your awning and/or porch lights when you retire for the evening.
Emptying tanks is not a popular task — but dumping those tanks is a nasty fact of life for every RV camper and it should be done courteously if your site features a sewer connection. For example, don’t do it when your neighbors are relaxing with a drink or enjoying a meal. Early mornings or late evenings (when few fellow campers are stirring) seem the most appropriate times for this chore.
Late arrivals and early departures can create a campground disturbance, so try to be as quiet as possible. If you’re pulling in late, it’s a good idea to just find a level spot to park, plug in the power, and leave the rest for the morning. If you’re planning an early getaway, prepare for a quick departure by putting away your camping gear the night before. If you are trailering, hook up your trailer to your truck the night before.
Fires and generators can be campground nuisances unless handled responsibly. Follow campground fire rules and never leave a fire unattended. Be absolutely certain your fire is out before retiring for the evening. If your site is powered, you don’t have to concern yourself with rules concerning the use of a generator.
But most state parks and some federal campgrounds don’t have power outlets, so in those instances you’ll have to rely on your batteries, solar or a generator. Unless the latter is one of the new inverter-style generators it will be noisy enough to irritate you and your companions as well as nearby neighbors. You shouldn’t need to run the generator for very long to maintain your RV’s batteries — and having a solar system and generator is the best of both worlds — minimizing generator usage for a more peaceful campground experience.
Since your campsite is just on loan to you, it’s important to leave it as you found it. Don’t move fire rings or boundary stones and if you relocate the picnic table, return it to its original place when you leave. Never cut branches or pound nails into trees for clotheslines or hammocks. Before departing, take a look around the site for personal items or litter.
As a final thought, take time to make some new friends. We all spend too much time on our personal devices these days, so crank up your communications skills and go for some old fashion personal contact. Time on the road is precious — so relax, have fun and enjoy the company of some newfound friends.
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