Summer is here and may not last much longer. The hordes of people escaping the heat of the cities have been descending upon us and are now trying to get in one last visit before returning to school and city life.
Some of these visitors we welcome with open arms because they spend their money in our businesses, volunteer to help us maintain our trails because they love the trails as much as we do or cherish the outdoor experience they share with us. Some know how to be considerate and some not so much. Please be patient with other people and try to explain how certain actions harm both our environment, our wildlife and our other campers and hikers who also want to share our little piece of paradise.
Dan Leeth recently wrote a special for The Denver Post entitled “Campground Courtesy” highlighting a few tips about how to be considerate of fellow campers improve the outdoor experience for everyone.
I wish we could spread the word on this important concept because it can make or break a fun weekend. Don’t you be the one that apparently feels civility does not apply to you. To paraphrase his words …
Set up camp quietly — Calm indoor voices everyone. No need to shout directions to park the trailer or look for tent stakes. People may be trying to sleep, read or just enjoy quiet time in the woods.
Watch the language — Most campgrounds, whether in an established area or dispersed camping, are family-oriented and full of people of all ages trying to enjoy quality time together. No need for the profanities that make you sound like a bit of a degenerate, even if such profanity is becoming somewhat the national norm. It is still offensive to many people and not needed in public.
Respect space — A campsite becomes your area while you are there. There is no need to walk through someone’s campsite to get to some place beyond. The favorite scenario is when you have the campsite near the bathroom and someone feels it is OK to walk between your tent and picnic table to get to the bathroom 5 seconds earlier. Please, just walk around.
Follow the rules — Rules are posted to help everyone get along. Usually, these rules refer to things that are really no-brainers, like don’t wash your dishes, clothes or your dog in the bathroom sinks. Don’t wash your hair at the potable water pump. Please keep quiet during quiet hours. Keep food out of your tent and grey water off the lawn. So many rules…
Minimize generator noise — Industrial-strength generators can wake up the whole campground. Please check out the quieter units and try to run the unit only during posted generator hours. You can also use solar panels when possible or good old-fashion batteries. Best idea is go to bed when the sun goes down.
Tone down the speakers — How often have you been kept up by a Saturday night party blaring sounds of rock ‘n’ roll or heavy metal when you were trying to get enough rest for that long hike to the summit in the morning? We each have things to accomplish when we go camping and don’t always agree how to get there. But either invite all of us to the party and supply the beer and treats or keep your noise on your own campsite.
Tone down the lights — Some people just love the darkness to look at the stars. Many can do with a single lantern or small campfire. Others like big fires that throw their light and smoke many sites away, or they want to string lights around their trailer or campsite area and feel like they are back in the city, I guess. It’s bad enough to burn lights all evening, but don’t forget to put out your fire or turn off your lights when you head to bed.
Clean up after yourself — Remember the things you don’t want to find when you arrive, like trash in the campfire pit, wrappers or discarded bottles in the showers, rings in the bathroom sinks, a bag of stinky trash that didn’t make it to the dumpster. Don’t leave things like that for the next camper or you are just as bad as the one before.
Leave No Trace — This mentality helps preserve the forest for the hordes that come out every summer. Please do what you can to preserve our little piece of heaven. Try to get along with your fellow campers — remember your space ends where theirs begins. And my pet peeve — take that plastic bag with you that you carefully filled with your dog’s poop and don’t leave it on the ground next to some post. It would be better to kick or otherwise push it way off the trail so it can decompose naturally rather than put it in a bag where it might sit for months. The trash man does not do pickups in the wilderness.
Much of this advice also applies to those camping in wilderness sites. The biggest thing to remember is to be a good neighbor and treat others the way you would want to be treated because we all live here together.