Nothing puts a damper on a camping trip faster than misbehaving neighbors. You've planned for months and just as you sit down to enjoy your dinner, campfire, or sleepy time... someone (or something) decides to tempt fate and aggravate your very last nerve! Your own flesh and blood should get the message with a cold stare and a flash of a parental hand gesture. However, a complete stranger who may/may not have overindulged in adult beverages or believes they hold rights over the entire campground, is an entirely different story. There is nothing worse than paying good money only to endure bad manners by fellow campers. Well, maybe getting attacked and eaten by a bear...but there's a fine line there!
So, let's take a refresher course on how to act when camping at your chosen campground:
- Minimize generator noise. First of all, there is no such thing as a super quiet generator when the next campsite is 10ft. away... even if you paid $3,000 for it. We do want to say thank you for actually obeying the official quiet time rule. Unfortunately, I'm aggravated by my neighbor on the other side who runs their generator from 7am until 10pm every day. Certainly they don't hear it because they are inside the RV with the stereo/tv on. Meanwhile, I'm contemplating forcibly planting a tent stake in their behind. Maybe I'll heat it in the campfire first too. So, if you have to ask yourself "I wonder if I should shut off my generator for a while?" Yes... and thank you. FYI- If you are a newbie RVer, "primitive" campgrounds will be 90% tenters who frown upon generators. Research campsite locations and distancing so everyone enjoys their stay.
- Set up camp quietly. Many people work Monday through Friday nine to five. Add an hour or two drive time and there's a pretty good chance that it may be dark when you arrive at camp. Have a plan in place on everyone's responsibilities. No one should be relaxing and watching while others work. Small jobs like collecting twigs to start the fire keep youngsters engaged and out from under foot. Insults and name calling seem to escalate pretty quickly during campsite setups, and trust me...your voice is traveling far and wide. Thus leading to the next suggestion. (And maybe you should apologize to the neighbors in the morning.)
- Watch the language. Just when I think I've heard everything, people manage to create a new slang, swear, or suggestive term that baffles my mind. If you spew garbage, keep your tone down, especially in front of children. Or visit adult only establishments. You are going to rub someone the wrong way with your graphic language. Be warned... if you get knocked upside the head with a bar of soap flying through your campsite, chances are someone is on their way over to cram it down your throat and wash your mouth out. And by the way, soap is a laxative. Shines new light on the term "shitty neighbor", doesn't it?
- Respect space. Campsites come in all shapes/sizes, but maybe you made a wrong choice in picking your site. This doesn't mean you can infringe on another camper's paid space. Know the boundaries between campsites and stick to yours. Do not allow campers or pets from your site to play, walk through...or relieve themselves on neighboring sites. Also, I know its a public bathroom, but if you can help it, please don't stand directly outside the bathroom stall door when I'm trying to go #2. Come back in five minutes please. Don't you think I'm stressed out enough in there having to poop in a public place?
- Turn down the speakers. Not everyone enjoys the same music genre as you. Especially if the lyrics are 75% profanity. Just because you and I are both wearing flannel, doesn't mean I'm into country music. Your disco tunes are giving me a Saturday night fever. That feverish pitch resonating from your favorite operatic performer is attracting every coyote and bigfoot within a 25 mile radius. So, I'll tell you what I want...what I really really want... and that is for you to invest in some ear buds. Campgrounds are not concert venues and very very few campers are impressed with the size of your woofers and tweeters.
- Clean up after yourself (and your kids/pets). Don't leave trash in campfire pits or scattered on campsite. Don't leave your toilet paper and poo piles (human or pet) where others will be camping. Soap wrappers, shampoo containers and even "un"sanitary products get left behind in campground showers. Sinks/showers often look like someone lost an entire head of hair in them. It takes minimal effort to clean up after yourself and take trash to the dumpster. Please check bathroom stalls your child has used. If they have unrolled the toilet paper and scattered it, pick it up! Flush the toilet if they forgot! Smokers, dispose of your butts somewhere else besides all over the ground. Pet owners should pick up and discard their pet's waste properly. Yes, the elements and insects will eventually break it down, but not overnight....and probably not in a week since you brought your two Saint Bernard dogs. Now I gotta move my tent :-(
- Follow the basic rules. Campgrounds put rules in place to protect themselves, and to safeguard the campground visitors. Washing dishes at public spigots leave behind food remnants which attract wildlife. Wildlife may carry rabies. Capeesh? Common sense would tell you not to drain black water tanks on a campsite, but it happens...a lot. Invasive insects can be carried from state to state on firewood, so buy local. Register all campers/visitors. In an emergency situation, management needs to have everyone accounted for. Respect the property you are on. Speak up to management if something alarms you. Most campers are seeking relaxation, so abide the quiet times rule. Know where your kids are. Don't allow dogs to bark excessively. Leashes are a must.
- Porta-jons/spring loaded bathroom doors. And for god's sake people...STOP allowing the door to slam shut behind you in the wee hours of the morning when you do a bathroom trip! I personally thank you for this courtesy!