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Camp rules – what you should or shouldn’t do while camping.
Every year, more than 40 million Americans decide to go camping. That’s a lot of people, especially if they don’t follow any rules. Imagine 40 million plastic bottles or unsupervised campfires.
Luckily, campers are usually a conscientious bunch who obey the general camping rules. But have you ever asked yourself, what are the usual camp rules?
PSST: These are great rules for enjoying camping…but not the ones you should follow for good camping etiquette.
What are general camping rules?
At every decent campsite, you will be welcomed by a board containing camp rules. They might differ from one campsite to another, but they generally share the same message.
Here are the most common camp rules you should obey, whether you go to a campsite or in the wilderness.
Camp rules for your pleasant camping
Preparation is the key
Only bring what’s necessary for your camping trip, but don’t leave anything behind. You will need a lot of plastic containers for your camping spices, kitchenware, snacks, and such.
Also, food, water, and clothes are three basic things you will need. If you are going to a campsite you have never been to before, inform yourself.
Gather some info about the camp rules, and buy a map of the area. It might come in handy, especially if there is no internet or cellphone signal there.
Respect the fellow campers
Most of the campers are people looking for some peace and quiet. Usually, they don’t go camping to find new best friends, but to enjoy nature. If you meet a fellow camper, greet him politely, but don’t try to force the conversation. A nice greeting, offer to help or grab a beer together, and that’s it.
Also, if you have a neighbor camper nearby, lower your voice. Nature is silent during the night, and every sound is multiplied. You don’t need to whisper, but don’t scream during the night or when the other campers are asleep.
This especially goes for families with smaller kids. The quiet hour is one of the fundamental camp rules and everyone needs to respect it.
Lower the music volume
Portable Bluetooth speakers are a great invention. However, people don’t go camping just so they can hear your music taste at the highest level possible. There is nothing wrong with a little subtle music.
If you can’t go camping (or hiking, or soaking in hot springs) without music blasting from your speakers or your car, you are missing the point of camping.
Look after your pets
If you are in a crowdy campground, your dog belongs on a leash. Period. If you go camping somewhere without any campers nearby, that’s a nice place for setting your dog free to run.
You should always clean after your pet, no matter where you are. Also, some campgrounds prohibit pets, so inform yourself before camping.
Camping Etiquette for preserving nature
Don’t destroy nature
We are part of nature, not owners of it. So, when you go camping, don’t destroy the wilderness or the camping site.
Don’t feed or try to hunt wild animals (outside of normal hunting season). Don’t cut down live green trees for a campfire. Blend in with nature, don’t try to overpower it. And for goodness sake, don’t carve your names into trees or spray paint your initials on rocks.
Keep campground clean
Nowadays, campgrounds have become pretty decent. For a few bucks, you can use the toilet, showers, charge your gadgets…almost anything. However, you need to be aware of those things are not yours to misbehave.
Every camper needs to use the toilet or the shower. So, do your best to clean every part of the campground equipment and facility as soon as you stop using it.
There is nothing worse than finding an unflushed toilet or dirty shower cabin. Also, it’s against the camp rules, so you risk getting kicked out of the campground.
And what about the fire?
If your campground has fire rings or fire pits, use them. Otherwise, make your own fireplace and secure it properly. The fire should be reasonably sized, not large enough to bake a mammoth.
Clean the area around the fireplace, so fire can’t spread. Never leave the fire unattended, and after you are done, pour the water all over the fireplace.
Campgrounds usually offer pre-split wood for campfires. And you and your kids can together go on a hunt for small dry sticks and branches to get the fire started. After that, get ready for roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories.
Leave no trace
You should always leave your campsite better looking than you found it. So, you burn your firewood to the ash. Clean up all your garbage. If your campsite doesn’t have garbage bins, take the trash with you.
Pet’s feces are trash. Cigarette butts also. My sister refers to this as “micro-trash”. Help Woodsy the Owl out and clean up some little bits of garbage. Even if they weren’t yours.
Everything that doesn’t belong in nature equals trash. And you will probably want to go camping again. So, leave no trace in nature this time around.
What are the dangers of camping?
Camping should be a fun activity, and you should get back home safe, sound, and well-rested. Camping also has its dangers, especially if you don’t follow the camp rules. But don’t worry, we are here to count the five most usual ones, and how to avoid them.
And we kid you not. Bears are the usual tenants of many popular campsites in both Canada and the USA.
Why? You left your food container opened, and they smelled food from miles. A hungry bear is the most dangerous kind of bear, trust us on that. Or you wandered out of your camp and just ran into a bear. It happens.
How not to get eaten by a bear? Keep your food stored in airtight containers. Or even better, get a bear-proof canister.
If you are taking a walk through the bear area, try to make some noise when walking. Bears are wild animals and will usually run away if they hear unusual sounds.
Never approach the bear, or the bear cub, nevermind how cute they are. Keep your distance and try not to panic.
It only takes a few clouds to turn a heavenly weekend into a weekend from hell. Wherever you camp, be prepared for the possibility of snow, lightning, wind, rain, and weather extremes, as well as the temperature ones.
How not to freeze or boil to death? Get well informed before camping. Bring some extra clothes as a precaution. Don’t set up your tent anywhere near rivers in the rainy season. If you get wet or cold, dry off as soon as possible. If the lightning strikes, avoid tall trees. But most importantly, be prepared.
Plants and berries
Also known as the ‘Bear Grylls syndrome.’
Why? Not every bright-colored berry you see is edible. And don’t get us even started on the mushrooms. The same goes for the plants, and the usual enemy of every camper: poison ivy. Some of the berries or plants can irritate your stomach or skin, while others can kill you.
How to survive plants? Don’t eat any wild berry that you are not 100% positive it is edible. Don’t touch any suspicious-looking wild plant. And be careful if you are bringing children along, as they are extra curious and will probably try to eat a berry or two.
And our usual suspects are mosquitos and ticks.
Why? Well, mosquitos are mostly annoying, but they can also bear malaria. Ticks, on the other hand, can transfer a whole bunch of diseases to people. And to your cat or a dog.
How to get rid of the bugs? Two words: insect repellent. A whole lot of insect repellent. For your pet, get a flea collar. Also, never go camping without a proper mosquito net.
Only you can prevent forest fires.Smokey the Bear
Why? In 2020, cca 57.000 wildfires started in the USA. And they burned more than 10,3 million acres of land. And as usual, 90% of them are caused by humans. The rest is lightning, lava, or other natural causes.
How not to start a fiery inferno? Simple. Control the size of your campfire. Never start a fire near the tent or anything that could burn. Always burn all your firewood to ash. After burning, pour a lot of water on your fireplace. Simple as that, but many campers fail to do so.
Camp Expectations and Rules FAQ
Should you camp under a tree?
No, there is no reason for that. In fact, it can be dangerous for you to set your tent under the tree. And why?
- A tree fruit or a broken branch can fall on your head
- A dangerous animal (snake, bat, chupacabra) can be on the tree and wait for you to fall asleep
- Lightning likes to strike on tall, lonely trees.
- When the rain starts, you will be wetter under the tree than on the open field. That will happen when the treetop starts dripping.
- Also, all the tree bugs will feel welcomed to enter your tent.
Why is camping frowned upon?
No, you got that wrong, my friend. Camping was never more popular, especially in these pandemic times, where you can’t leave your country easily.
The 2020 reports say that some of the USA camping booking services have a 400% increase in demands for this year, and 2021 will be even better.
You can’t get on a flight to Hawaii, but you can always rent a camper and go visit Mother nature. And in 2020, the US outdoor recreation sector was worth $887 billion and employed over 7,5 million people. Not a typo!
What does quiet time mean at a campground?
Quiet time or quiet hours are the time interval from 10 PM to 6 AM, usually. Different camping sites can have different camp rules for quiet hours. Most campers sleep at that time so that they will have the energy for the next day. This is the camping rule of the thumb so everyone can enjoy their vacation days. In that time, you should turn off your electronic devices and try not to make any noise.
Camping is one of the best ways to spend your free time. Especially when we can’t travel overseas. Now is the best time to get to know your own country.