Camping etiquette: 7 rules to follow

Communing with nature isn’t usually done in complete isolation. Consider your neighbours — and the planet.
Family going camping, carrying canoe on their head

Photo: Eden Lang

1.Keep it down
Fellow campers may not think your impetuous four-year-old’s version of “I’m Sexy and I Know It” is cute at 6 a.m., so chat with the kids about reasonable noise levels during quiet hours (that’s 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at most campgrounds). And never blare your music, even during the day. As I am constantly telling my husband, not everyone in Canada enjoys Rush.

2. Relax
If someone’s noise level is bothering you, say so calmly and hope for the best, but try not to sweat it. Being outside means you’ll be at the mercy of others, and this is a good chance to model tolerance to your impressionable offspring. They absolutely will remember the time you almost got into a fist fight while camping.

3. Respect boundaries
Ed Jager, director of visitor experience for Parks Canada, suggests explaining the difference between common areas and private sites to your kids. “If they’re going into a neighbour’s site, discuss it with them and communicate with the neighbours to ensure it’s a good experience for everyone.”

4. Be kind to trees
People like to put up tarps or clotheslines, but don’t leave strings and things around trees when you head home, because this can damage them,” says Jager. Hammocks are also popular, but be careful where you hang them. If the hammock is bending a young tree, find a better spot. Also, don’t harm trees by breaking branches off to use for roasting sticks. Jager also says it’s best to use the firewood offered or sold at your campground because it will reduce the threat of introducing an invasive species from another area.

5. Be a better boater
If you’re bringing a boat (including canoes, kayaks and motorcrafts) that has been moved from one body of water to another, clean the bottom and sides carefully with non-toxic, biodegradable cleaner before putting it in the water to ensure it’s free of zebra mussels, invasive marine life and bacteria. This small step could save an ecosystem.

6. Be mindful of nature
“Take only memories and leave only footprints” isn’t just a quaint saying — it should be your family-camping motto. “Let yourself truly experience the grandeur of the natural world, and leave it as it was so others can do the same,” says Tovah Paglaro, the David Suzuki Foundation’s “Queen of Green.”

7. Reduce
Try to produce as little garbage as possible. “Preparing and freezing meals ahead of time goes a long way toward reducing the waste produced when you’re camping,” says Paglaro. “And reusable water bottles make juice boxes unnecessary.”

Read more:
Camping gear: Essentials for camping with kids

Camping food: 17 delicious recipes
7 fun camping games for kids

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