Camping is a great way to recreate, get away from the hustle and bustle of life in the modern world, tune out the fuzz, and just kick back and revel in all of Mother Nature’s glory. However, there are other folks who misuse the opportunity. There are unwritten (and written) rules of the outdoors, and unfortunately some just aren’t privy to them. If you or someone you know may be one of these people, here’s a little help.
Get in touch with nature, but don’t act like an animal.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with kicking back and having some cold ones while you’re camping. But almost without fail, everyone has experienced “that guy” in a public campground. The guy who’s screaming, singing, stumbling and slurring at the stroke of noon. The guy getting into fights with his campmates, his neighbors, and just generally causing unrest and distress to all forms of beast and man. Don’t be “that guy.” No one likes him.
Buy all the equipment you want, but don’t forget to study up beforehand
Another troubling (and sometimes quite comical) sight commonly seen at public campgrounds is the camper who comes in with a brand new everything, and then struggles into the night to set up his fancy-schmancy tent that holds twenty-seven people, somehow has a flushable toilet, and can probably transport them back in time. Buy an RV? Learn to back it up on your own time. Don’t waste everyone’s time by blocking the road trying unsuccessfully for the umpteenth time to get it parked right.
Don’t ignore resource regulations
Depending on what part of the world you’re in, if you’re going to a government-owned property to recreate, there’s a great chance that there are some resource regulations. Bringing your own firewood (unless inspected by the USDA), for example, is not permitted in several states. This is not a government ploy to take more of your hard-earned scratch. It is to prevent the spread of various arbor-killing parasites, not least of which is the Emerald Ash Borer, which is wreaking havoc in many areas. Debarked or treated wood is often acceptable (though it’s not very wise to cook hot dogs over a fire made from treated wood), as is kiln-dried wood or wood that has been inspected at the vendor by the USDA. In short, make sure to inform yourself of the area’s rules and regulations before you go ruining it for everyone else.
Don’t forget to pick up after yourself, you dirty animal!
This should absolutely go without saying in today’s world, but some folks still somehow lack the simple, civil ability to not leave their space looking like a raccoon just tore through the largest garbage bag in the history of trash bags on it. All parks have a receptacle nearby, please remember to put your refuse in it. Pretty simple, right? Sure, most parks have staff that do the maintenance, cleaning, and general labor, but don’t be a jerk. Pick up after yourself.
Don’t be rude to your ranger
Some people have a general disdain for authority, so many times rangers are looked at in a negative light (usually by those who occupy the demographic discussed in rule #1). Most of the time, the ranger should be your best friend while recreating. He can show you the best fishing spots, tell you about a cool trail that you didn’t know existed, and give you a ton of helpful advice and knowledge. However, he can also be the person who comes to find you when you’re hopelessly lost on a trail, when you have a nuisance animal problem, or you are experiencing some sort of medical emergency. Even if the rangers aren’t charged with law enforcement duties or if they haven’t undergone any kind of EMT training, they are still your first and fastest link to help with whatever (or whomever) ails you.
A good way to learn more about how to act around the outdoors is by going to sponsored outdoor events, that way you can learn more about taking care of your environment.