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Campers' Book of Etiquette

How to get along in the great outdoors


By Deanna Darr

Last month, we posted an entry on our BW blog, Cobweb, outlining some suggested rules for a fictional Campers' Book of Etiquette. Judging by the responses we received, we touched a nerve.

We had so many responses, in fact, that we decided to create a sort of first draft of the BW Campers' Book of Etiquette.

They are listed in no particular order, but they are grouped by subject matter. We're sure we'll hear from more of you.

Re: Where to Camp

#1: When heading out to do some primitive camping, don't set up camp right next to someone else. People who grab their tents and head out into the boondocks usually want to get away from others.

#2: If your favorite campsite is already filled by the time you get there at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, don't sit at the entry road to the camp and loudly complain that someone else is there and that it's always available. Obviously, it's not, so move on.

#3: If you pitch your tent in a low spot and it rains, you are not allowed to throw tent poles at your amused companions on the hill.

Re: Potty Etiquette

#1: Camping where there are no bathrooms? Pack that stuff out. You can rig an affordable portable toilet by using Wag Bags, a cheap plastic toilet seat and a 5-gallon bucket.

#2: Dig a hole to do your business in and bury it. Nobody else needs to see/smell/step in it.

#3: Do not leave your toilet paper anywhere where others can see it.

#4: Put a bag near your potty area and put your used toilet paper in it. No one really cares to encounter your used wiping mechanism.

Re: Music:

#1: On the list of campfire-acceptable instruments, trumpets and bugles fall near the bottom, along with snare drums and cymbals. Never, never should you play "Taps" in the middle of the night, and never--even under threat of painful death--should you play "Reveille" at the crack of dawn unless you are at a government-sanctioned military boot camp.

#2: If you want to scream and yell and blast your radio at all hours of the night, make sure you're far away from anyone else, or consider staying home. Just because you like your music doesn't mean the people three sites down do.

Re: Safety

#1: Put out your fire when you leave camp. Nuf said.

Re: Motorized Vehicles

#1: ATVs and motorcycles: Go slowly when passing camps, especially when it's dusty.

#2: Don't be a pest. Stay on the trails.

Re: Cleaning Up

# 1: When breaking camp, clean up after yourself. Don't leave your trash or your bent tent stakes behind. And most importantly, don't leave your used underwear half buried near camp. That's just gross.

#2: Clean up after yourselves. Seriously. This means campsites, hiking areas, hot springs and basically anywhere you go.

#3: Put your dirty dishes away when in bear country. We don't want to put any more dents in our good pans chasing bears out of your campsite.

#4: Don't clean your dishes under the camp faucet. The food attracts bugs.

#5: Pack it in, pack it out--including diapers.

#6: Don't do something just because no one's looking. Remember that if you do it, chances are others are doing it, too, and imagine 1 million people doing what you're thinking of doing. How would you like wads of toilet paper from 1 million people, or beer cans or tabs or fire rings or whatever?

Re: Misc. Etiquette

#1: Don't walk through other campsites. Walk around--don't use it as a short cut.

#2: The boat ramp isn't there as your personal sun bathing site. It's there for getting in and out of boats. It's also not a picnic area.

#3: If you are going camping to get seriously drunk, do it a long ways away from where anyone else is camping. We get the idea, we just don't want to watch you.

# 4: When using a campsite, don't cut down all the trees and bushes around the campsite. Especially don't cut down small trees; they are too fresh to burn well anyway. Bring your own wood and try not to damage the environment.

#5: Don't burn things in a fire ring that shouldn't/can't be burned (plastic, glass, foil). They stink while burning and/or make a mess for the next person.

#6: Don't have ginormous fights with your spouse/date/family--go home for that stuff. Remember, sound travels and we really don't need to hear your sordid details.

Re: Animals and Children

#1: Put food away so that animals won't be tempted to wander into all camps.

#2: If your dog barks all day at home while you are gone, guess what your dog does all day when you are gone and that dog is locked up inside your camper?

#3: If you bring along a dog, don't let it run amok. Not everyone loves your dog like you do, and clean up after it.

#4: Control your screaming babies.

#5: Are your little ones early risers? Your campground neighbors might not be. It might take a village to raise a child, but the villagers should be willing.