Camping 101 (campground etiquette from the perspective of the person who cleans up after you)

We are now three months in as campground hosts, and as this long holiday weekend comes to a close (Happy Labor Day), I wanted to take the opportunity to offer up campground etiquette 101, straight from a campground host.  We’ve experienced more than our share of wonderful and amazing campers.  More than not, everyone is on their best behavior and make volunteering a joy and well worth it.  But there’s always going to be “that guy”, the spoiler for everyone.  So here are my tips on what-not-to-do.

  • The fire pits are NOT trash cans.  There are things that don’t burn, mainly cans and bottle tops.  Also, its fine to throw your cigarette butts in the fire while it’s burning, but don’t wait until the fire goes out and you’re pulling out, to throw your entire ash tray in the fire.  We have to pick up every single unburnt butt to clean out the pit for the next camper.  And pretty pretty  pretty puh-lease don’t throw your uneaten or leftover food in the fire pit. The other day I had to grab out a watermelon that was cut in half, but didn’t appear to have been eaten at all and in just a few hours the bugs had already gone to town and set up shop.  It is as though people think the fire pits magically open up after they leave and its contents disappear (I wish).   Burning plastic is also frowned upon, it stinks up the entire campground and it isn’t good for the environment either.  When in doubt only burn firewood in the fire pits.
  • Please don’t leave behind your very full, very smelly trash bags when your lovely camping trip is over. At almost every single campground there is a trash dumpster on your way out.  I don’t mind so much, one, but to leave your entire trash from your stay is just bananas and inconsiderate.  I mean, you know if you don’t do it, someone else has too.
  • Toilet paper goes in the toilet… not paper towels, toy cars, wash rags, grease, food, etc. And remember multiple flushes or a courtesy flush, as my Dad always called it, is just a good idea in general.  And if you do happen to clog up the toilet, just let us know.  We promise it is a judgement free zone, we’d just rather address the issue as soon as possible.
  • The showers are for showering and really not much else! I’ll spare you the details, but some of the images still haunt my dreams.  Keep in mind in the mornings we can’t get in there to clean after each person showers, so do a solid for your fellow campers and do a quick check that you didn’t leave it unpleasant.  I don’t ever expect for campers to scrub them down, that is indeed, my job.  But for example, if you know you shed a lot while shampooing your hair, maybe just do a quick looksy and see if maybe you left the equivalent of a small animal behind, maybe just grab it up, just throwing it out there 😉


As you can see, what it really boils down to is cleanliness and common sense.  When you’re sharing a bathroom with over a hundred ther people, being considerate is KEY and much appreciated.  Now, I know, we all aren’t born pros at this camping thing, we’ve been rookies at one point in time, and so it all comes with time and experience.  Just how loud is too loud? Who knew that Grammy’s famous boiled cabbage smelled terrible to the untrained nose.  Little Bobby joyfully splashing in the sink while a line of women wait to brush their teeth may not be as cute to them.   Little things like that.  So that’s why I’m here, offering this priceless information.   We all love camping and the comradery it brings.  Meeting new people, swapping grilling recipes and sharing the tips and tricks on how to make camping even more enjoyable…..all these wonderful trappings, get lost in the not so wonderful occurrences, one may experience.

The moral of the story is, just do unto your fellow camper as you would have done to you.  Because, in the end, that’s what we hosts are….just your fellow camper.  We volunteer so that we get to camp 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We’re all in this camping thing together, whether you’re a weekend warrior or full-timer, we’ve got to look out for each other.   So just keep that in mind, your campbor (camping neighbor, yeah, I just made that up), the person that lent you the hammer when you didn’t have one or that dug for that extra hose fitting in the rain so you didn’t have to go grab one, and helped you back it in and hook up, is not only doing that for you, but others, while also unclogging toilets at midnight and waking up to make sure the toilet paper is filled before the morning rush.  We just want to make sure EVERYONE (including us) has the most delightful and memorable time, whether that’s reminiscing by the fire with friends, grilling hotdogs before the game with family or just strolling the campground with your partner and pups….our goal is that no one leaves as your cliché “happy camper” (the miserable person), but as an actual happy camper.  It’ll be my mission in life to turn that phrase from sarcasm to realism.  Join me!