How To Be Respectful When Sharing A Campsite

While you might love camping, so do millions of other travelers. According to a press release from Kampgrounds of America, Inc., 57 million U.S. and Canadian households went camping in 2021. This isn't that surprising. During the coronavirus pandemic, people were seeking diversion from their homes, while also feeling safe outdoors. Popularity around camping has remained consistent since, and there's no sign of it abating. While this means that loads of people get to have fun vacations outdoors, it means that you might have neighbors close by while camping.

Another reason that you're likely to deal with neighbors while camping is that there are simply so many stunning spots to choose from. It's no wonder Yellowstone National Park is on everyone's bucket list, after all! It's such a special place. There are amazing West Coast spots for beach camping, too.

While enjoying campsites like these, it's good to be attentive to your neighbors, especially if you end up sharing a campsite. It's good practice to introduce yourself to your campground neighbors, but don't encroach. Not everyone wants a huge social scene while camping. If you need to borrow tools, ask politely and return them immediately. There are other ways to be respectful of those near you while camping, and it's a good idea to run over the list before embarking on the great outdoors.

Observe quiet hours

The most obvious way to be a good neighbor at a campsite is to respect people's need for peace in the great outdoors. Most campsites post their quiet hours, which range somewhere from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. with slight variation. Respect these quiet hours at night so that everyone around you can sleep uninterrupted. Keep noise to a minimum after these hours; limit conversation and stop playing loud music once it gets late. Turn off generators at night to minimize noise.

Also, do your best to arrive at your campsite before quiet time begins so that you're not stuck setting up camp when everyone around you is trying to sleep. The lights from your car and the inevitable noise that comes from unloading and prepping your campsite all create disturbances after dark. The same goes for taking down your campsite in the morning. Try to plan your departure so that you can begin de-camping once those near you are already awake.

Be aware of your food

While you want to keep your campsite clean for your basic enjoyment and the enjoyment of everyone around you, there are extra reasons to be mindful of this while camping. Proper food storage and disposal are imperative if you're camping in bear country. Check with the park to learn more about their specific rules around this, as they'll outline the best safety measures depending on what kinds of bears are in the area. Some campsites require you to store food in your car with the windows closed, while other sites use food lockers. Still others let campers hang food from trees, depending on the types of bears in the vicinity. In other cases, you may need to get bear-resistant food storage containers. Always check the rules of the park.

Don't leave food unattended, and wash all pots, pans, and cooking items immediately. It's best to use unscented soap and be careful to collect all food scraps from dirty dishes so that these can be disposed of appropriately. Even if your campsite isn't in bear country, other animals will be attracted to food smells and approach campsites. You don't want to be the campers responsible for an influx of animals grazing through your site and then likely moving on to nearby campers. Don't try to burn garbage. Instead, pack it and bring it out with you. Don't throw biodegradable garbage, like fruit peels or coffee grinds, in the wilderness as this only attracts animals.

Don't cut through your neighbor's campsite

Another way to be respectful while camping is to avoid cutting through your neighbor's campsite. They want the pleasure of enjoying their outdoor space without strangers walking through their area of the campsite. It's important to respect their privacy, just as you would want yours respected. It's unlikely you'd cut through someone's backyard, so have the same mindset of boundaries while camping. If it's absolutely necessary because of the layout of the campsite, be sure to ask your neighbors first if you can cut through. Otherwise, go around their campsite to get to the places you need to be.

They've gone through care and time to reserve their personal campsite, and have the reasonable expectation that they'll be able to enjoy it without being disturbed. For their own enjoyment, give them the space and privacy that they expected they'd get on their camping trip.

Be mindful of your fire

Another way to be a good neighbor while camping is to be attentive to your campfire. For starters, if the area where you're camping has a fire ban, then do not start a fire. These typically come into effect if the area is extremely dry, and fire bans are part of an effort to prevent wildfires. By following these stipulations, you're keeping your neighbors and the entire area safe.

If fires are allowed, follow appropriate campfire etiquette. Use the designated fire pit, rather than creating your own fire pit. Adhere to the campground's rules for firewood use. Try to use an axe rather than a chainsaw to cut your firewood to avoid noise pollution for your neighbors. Don't cut down live trees around the campsite. Also, avoid burning other products besides wood and paper. Burning plastics or other synthetic materials is bad for the environment and the unpleasant smells can travel to your neighbors' sites. Never leave your fire unattended. If you're finished with your fire, spread out the embers and put out the fire with water, sand, or dirt before leaving or heading to bed.

Be courteous when camping with children and pets

Camping with kids is a wonderful way to teach them about nature and having fun in the great outdoors. It's a great bonding experience for a family and a wonderful way to bring children in contact with the joys of nature. With little ones, the camping experience might be louder, so try to minimize children's noises for the sake of your neighbors, though most campers will understand that kids tend to make noise. Also, teach your children not to walk through other campsites out of respect for privacy.

Camping with pets is another fun way to bring the whole family together. Again, dogs can pose a nuisance to neighbors if they're not properly looked after during a camping trip. If your campsite has leash laws, be respectful of this and don't let your dog stray into other campsites. Pick up after your pet, and make sure that they're not left to bark for extended periods of time, thereby disrupting neighbors.

Practice the Leave No Trace philosophy

One of the best ways to be respectful of others while camping, especially in the long run, is to practice the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, meaning that when you leave your campsite, you have left no impact on the wilderness. Don't nail anything into trees to avoid damaging the health of the trees. If you wish to use hammocks, get freestanding ones. Take everything with you when you go, including ropes, garbage, and any other debris. Don't take anything with you from the natural world, including plants, artifacts, and rocks.

Put out your campfire and make sure that your campsite is clean. When washing dishes, use biodegradable soap and dump the grey water 200 feet away from the site, scattering the water. This preserves the integrity of the area for those around you and for other campers to come. Leave the site as you would wish to find it so that others can enjoy the natural world as well.