Alongside apple pie and baseball, few things evoke the American ethos more than camping. It can be a time to relax and reconnect with friends and family—all in the simplicity and beauty of nature.
But to keep the great outdoors great, it’s important to follow a few key tips and simple rules of etiquette. Here are seven to get you started.
Do arrive at the campground before sunset.
It’s practical and thoughtful to arrive at your camping destination before sunset. It’s practical, because it’s easier to set up camp in the light than it is in the dark. And it’s thoughtful, because you won’t be keeping fellow campers awake by causing a ruckus into the wee hours of the morning.
Don’t leave your food unattended.
It’s one of camping’s cardinal rules: never store your food in a compromising position. Whether it’s leaving food where insects can pillage it, or exposing your meat supply to bears, not minding your foodstuffs can send you to the campground general store to replace it.
(Bonus tip: Want to bear-proof your campground? Check out these tips from The Backpacker’s Field Manual. Likewise, some national parks also offer bear-proof food lockers. When you check in, be sure to ask the park ranger or clerk about your options.
Do observe campground rules.
As laid back as camping can be, many parks and sites have quiet hours, firewood policies and other guidelines. Be sure to ask about and follow them.
Do put the fire out before you go to sleep.
Sitting around a crackling campfire is one camping’s greatest pleasures. But as you do so late into the evening, it can be tempting to retire to your tent without fully extinguishing the fire. To avoid an accident, be sure to douse the fire with water, covering both red and black embers. If you don’t have enough water, dirt will work as a substitute.
Don’t leave a trace.
The joy of camping is entering into uncluttered nature. Protect this joy for other campers by cleaning up your campsite before your leave. As the Boy Scouts say, leave the campsite better than you found it.
Do know your camping terminology.
What’s a rain fly? What about a rucksack? What is the difference between an A-frame and a Freestanding tent? Getting to know the lingo of a camper will help you make the right choices on what gear you need to bring.
Don't get caught unprepared.
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