On this week’s episode, RV School is in session with Campground Etiquette 101. Campgrounds are pretty happy places. But if you don’t have good campground manners, you might get the cold shoulder around the evening campfire. We will give you tips for minding your social q’s and making friends wherever you park your rig. The world would be a better place if everyone had good Campground Etiquette. And it all starts with you.
General Campground Etiquette:
1. Pick the Right Campground
If you want to have an awesome experience at a campground, and not be bothered by someone else’s bad etiquette (or run the risk of offending someone else with your own behavior) than we strongly recommend that you spend some time picking a campground that is right for you and your family or camping crew. Looking to have a good time and throw back some adult beverages on a Friday night? Then we suggest finding a campground where that is acceptable.
Don’t head to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park and get mad at Ranger when he asks you to put down your Budweiser and extinguish your campfire at quiet time. Conversely, If you really want a quiet camping experience, don’t show up at a start park that is known for its wild crowds on weekends. Read plenty of online reviews before you make reservations. This will ensure that you pick a campground that is right for you.
2. Respect the Rules of the Campground You Have Chosen
Most campgrounds post their rules very clearly on their websites. We recommend taking a second to read these rules, not before showing up, but before making a reservation! If any of the campground’s rules really bother you we recommend looking elsewhere. Some campgrounds do not allow alcoholic beverages of any kind. If you plan on having a few drinks at the campground, you should probably not camp somewhere where this is banned. Knowing the rules in advance allows you to make a good decision and avoid confrontation with the owners or other campers at the campground.
Watch Us Discuss Campground Etiquette for Jayco on this Facebook live!
3. Drive Slowly at a Campground! Like 5 MPH slowly.
The worst violations of campground etiquette can actually put other campers at risk. Having good campground etiquette means being thoughtful and considerate when you are driving through a campground. Whether you are driving a golf cart or an F-250, take it slow and keep your eyes out for small children. If a soccer ball shoots out onto the road a little kid might not be far behind.
We recommend always keeping your driving speed at about 5 MPH. You should be driving slowly enough that if, God forbid, you hit someone, they will not be badly hurt. This is just common sense. New RV owners who are not used to general rules of campground etiquette are often the violators in this department. If you see someone driving too fast you should say something. But say it kindly–at least the first time.
4. Respect Shared Spaces and Teach Your Kids to do the Same.
We love campground that have shared spaces:playgrounds, pools, bounce pillows,basketball courts etc… However, these shared spaces are ripe for problems when it comes to campground etiquette. After almost a decade of extensive camping we have come to the conclusion that most of these etiquette issues that we encounter are caused by unmonitored children. If you allow your younger campers to go to the playground unattended it is important that you know your child is capable of responsible behavior there.
We have watched too many 9 and 10 year olds get rough on the playground or bounce pillow and actually endanger younger children. I used to be shocked when I discovered that these children causing the problem where not being monitored. I’m not shocked anymore. Now I respectfully ask them to stop whatever they are doing. If they don’t listen I ask for the help of an owner or manager so that I do not end up arguing with someone else’s child.
Adults can also violate the rules of good campground etiquette when it comes to shared spaces. It is not good etiquette to reserve a batch of chairs at the pool and then walk away for three hours. Bad campground etiquette is often just the manifestation of selfish impulses. Remember the golden rule!
5. Thank Owners and Workers for Great Experiences, and Leave Them Great Reviews
Campground owners and camp workers make the magic happen. Few of them are getting rich doing so. Having great campground etiquette means showing gratitude for great experiences. This can be done by simply leaving the campground a great review. Or by thinking an owner personally. If a camp worker provides excellent service please make sure you tell their manager or an owner. These relatively easy displays of campground etiquette can make a huge difference for someone’s business, and their lives. Too many people only leave negative reviews. This creates bad mojo in the universe. Bring the good mojo after a great weekend of camping! Please!
Campground Etiquette at Your Individual Campsite
1. Always Respect Quiet Time Rules at Your Site
You may want to crank the Van Halen at 11pm, but your next door neighbor may have three sleeping toddlers in the bunkhouse a few feet away. Your kids may want to burst out of bed at 6am and play kickball on your site, but the family next door might want not be interested in listening to the game. If you arrive late at night at a campground try to be as quiet as possible. Set up your outdoor kitchen and hammock in the morning, not at 3am. Conversely, if your neighbor pulls in at 3am, don’t get angry at them. It could by you next time!
2. Completely Extinguish Your Campfire at Night
Leaving a campfire burning or smoldering after you go to bed at night is a major violation of good campground etiquette. No one wants unnecessary smoke blowing into their RV’s. But more importantly, its just plain dangerous. A fire that is only partially extinguished can basically relight itself, particularly if the wind is blowing. While it is unlikely that your smoldering campfire will create a forest fire, why even take the smallest chance?
3. Don’t Make Any “Modifications” to Your Campsite.
Cutting down trees or branches for kindling or firewood is an absolute no-no. Sounds crazy, but we have seen overzealous campers pull out chainsaws and chop their own firewood. Seriously. Putting nails in trees for hammocks or digging large holes is also a pretty big no-no. This is camping people, not preparation for the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
4. Be Respectful With Outdoor Lights
Rule number one when it comes to outdoor lighting is DON’T LEAVE THEM ON after you go to bed. If you are going to light up your site like a Christmas tree please make sure that fits the culture of the campground. If you are camping in a dark sky zone in a state park that is peaceful and serene, you might hold off on setting up those rope lights for your next KOA of Jellystone visit.
5. Keep Your Dog On Leash!
You might love letting Frido run free at the campground. But chances are, you are probably making someone else uncomfortable. Keeping your dog on a six foot leash is just plain old smart. Dog owners also need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not our pups are well socialized enough for the campground. Most dogs are, but a rare few are not–and bringing them into a space with dozens of other dogs, and small children, could be disasterous.
6. Don’t Be Overly “Helpful” When a Newbie is Backing into a Site.
If a new RV owner is struggling a bit backing into their site you might consider LEAVING THEM ALONE. If a swat team of helpers runs up to help a newbie the newbie will probably panic with that newbie in the headlights look. Newbies need practice, and throwing them out of their trucks and backing in for them is not gonna help. We also don’t think its polite to pull up a camp chair and crack a beer while someone is struggling to pull in. If they are really truly stuck, we do think you should offer help. But give them at least 25 attempts before you strut over with your Jedi maneuvering tricks.
7. Be Helpful In Other Situations
If that very same newbie is struggling setting up camp later, whether with power cords, or water lines, please do offer help. In this situation they will be grateful, not flustered. There’s just something about backing a trailer up that requires some personal space.
8. Don’t Cut Through Other People’s Sites
Some campers don’t care if you cut through their sites. But other campers REALLY do care and it really bothers them. They feel like it is their personal space that they have payed for and they are entitled to a little bit of peace, quiet, and tranquility. This should be respected by other campers. We should all teach our children to respect this rule. Play it safe and never cut across someone’s site. Unless they are old buddies who love your kids almost as much as you do.
9. Make New Friends at the Campground and Teach Your Children to do the Same
Campground are social places. If you are an introvert, the RV Life may not be for you. We strongly recommend opening yourself up to meeting new friends at the campground, and teaching your children to do the same. We promise, you won’t regret it. Making new friends is good for the soul.
To Watch Jeremy and Stephanie discuss Campground Etiquette in more detail watch this Facebook live that they did for Jayco! See you at the campground!