Tips and Advice for the Outdoors

Etiquette in the Outdoors

One of the prime attractions of camping is the opportunity to enjoy peace and quiet. Living in the big city is exciting and there is a never ending parade of things to do and see. But sometimes, it’s great to get away from all the noise, the bustling and the crowds. At least, most people who go camping think so.

Unfortunately, there’s a small minority that want to bring the city with them into the wilderness. Motorcycles, loud radios and just general rowdiness can sometimes spoil a peaceful campsite. For those who might be willing to listen, it’s desirable to point out that the first rule of camping is: don’t disturb your neighbor.

The reason that’s the first rule is because of the basic purpose of camping listed above: to get away from the noise and enjoy the quiet. For those who disagree or (more often) don’t care, there are campsite officers. Anarchy has faded from campsites. If there are others who refuse to exhibit basic courtesy, you can call on a ranger (in a State or National Park) or a guard (in commercial campsites) to ask the spoilers to be quiet or leave.

But that needn’t be your first move. A polite request to respect the rights of other campers is the first step. And, it’s helpful to be willing to tolerate a certain amount of undesirable behavior for a short time. There’s no need to inflame an unpleasant situation by being intolerant of minor disturbances. Sometimes sound carries better in campsites than you might expect.

Motorcycles, ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicle) and other fun but noisemaking vehicles should be ridden only in designated areas. People who enjoy them can flock together. They expect noise. People who want to hear only the chirping birds are entitled to equal enjoyment.

But there’s no good reason to tolerate prolonged noise or threatening behavior. That’s what the officers are there for, among other things.

The second rule of etiquette in camping is to leave little trace. The next person to come along will appreciate you putting out your fire completely. You should dump all trash in a receptacle or bring along plastic bags to take it with you to dump in the nearest one along the road. Leave no bottles, cans, food wrappers or other trash.

Take a wider view of what is trash and what isn’t than you might in the city. Cigarette butts do not decay in the earth anywhere near as rapidly as you might think. Even small pieces of wood can take years to decay. If you have to eliminate in the woods, bury it under a pile of earth, especially if you’ve used toilet paper. That goes for any dog waste from pets you bring along, too.

Campsites are much more heavily populated today than they ever have been. If everyone pitches in and follows some simple, common sense rules of etiquette, they can be enjoyed by all for a long time to come.

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