Camping Etiquette Guidelines

Camping Under Stars

Camping etiquette guidelines are important to know whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or planning your first weekend in the woods.  These rules will help keep you safe and keep you in good standing with Mother Nature – as well as your campsite neighbors.

Respect the Space

Respect is the foundation of etiquette, and this is most important to remember when spending time in nature.  You are a guest in Mother Nature’s house, and your decisions and actions in how you treat her space can have many consequences.

  • Enter lightly and don’t litter.  Bring only what you need to make your time at the campsite comfortable.  The more you bring, the more disruptive you may be to the natural environment.  And the more likely you are to leave something behind.  Make sure you leave your camping space just as you found it.  Clean and natural.

  • Put the fire out.  Campfires are lots of fun!  So many memories are made when sitting around them with people you love.  But campfires can easily turn into forest fires if not extinguished correctly.  Before leaving your campsite or turning in for the night, pour water on it and ensure that nothing within the ashes and embers is still burning or hot.

  • Don’t feed the animals.  It’s adorable when a cute forest animal comes into your campsite and acts friendly.  But it’s not a good thing.  Animals in nature need to belong to their natural world, not to our human world.  Avoid the temptation to make friends with them by feeding them.  Be sure your food is stored away where it cannot be found or accessed by animals.  And make sure all trash is placed in appropriate receptacles or stored away so that critters can’t get to it.

  • Follow the path.  Many campgrounds have driveways and paths winding through them.  These are the driving and walking areas you should stay on.  It’s best not to venture off unless you know the area well, have a valid reason, or take a guided tour.  If you do, you could be putting yourself or someone else in danger.

  • Don’t bring in or take away firewood.  Transporting firewood from one area to another can cause insect infestation that may not have otherwise occurred.  Beetles, moths, and other insects that live in wood in one area now have the opportunity to live and breed in another if you move the wood in which they live.  Most campgrounds or nearby stores sell firewood you can use at your site.  You can learn more at

Mind Your Noise Level

When you have a large group camping together, it can easily slide into a party.  This is great, so long as it doesn’t disturb others.  Others being people and animals.

If you are planning a campsite party, check in with other campers near you and let them know they may hear your group.  You may invite them to join you as a courtesy, but definitely invite them to tell you if the noise level is disturbing to them.

A large number of people together in a limited space can get pretty rowdy when a good time is had by all.  Place a time limit on your party so that everyone has an expectation of when things should quiet down.

Keep your music volume at a minimum by bringing your own acoustic instruments.  Modern technology affords us the convenience of using speakers that are only inches in size, but you still need to keep watch on the volume level.

Other Camping Etiquette Rules

If you are camping with children or pets, or both, it is most important to adhere to the rule of staying together.  Educate your children on the rules of nature, as well as the rules of camping etiquette.  However, this is best done when spending time together outdoors rather than conveying instructions.

Know your pets well before deciding to bring them along on a camping trip.  Dogs who bark easily at other people and animals may not be the best campers.  The same goes for those who tend to wander away. 

The camping etiquette guidelines above are important for safety and helping to preserve our natural environment.  But use them in addition to the rules you see posted in the campground in which you are staying.  Each environment of every area and region varies and, therefore, may vary in the rules necessary to keep that environment preserved and safe for campers.

Remember that respect is the key – always.  If you respect the space you’re visiting and the people and animals in your vicinity, your camping etiquette skills will be spot on.  And you can be assured that Mother Nature will continue to welcome you to her home.

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