Campground etiquette: Manners make memories – Part 1

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Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series dealing with campground etiquette.

Last year, I posted something on Facebook asking people to provide examples of horrible campground etiquette — those obnoxious actions of others that take the fun out of RVing.

I was blown away by the response. There were close to 1,000 comments posted to the threads. Apparently, I had struck a nerve.

So, in the interests of keeping the peace and helping campers get along with each other, here’s the list of the most annoying, most aggregating things campers do to annoy others.

Top 20 most annoying things campers do

  1. Cutting through sites — This was, by far, the most mentioned nuisance. This includes walking through a site, kids biking through a site and adults driving golf carts and ATVs through a neighbor’s site. Its more rude when you’re interrupting a meal or commenting on an activity/conversation as you pass through. Walk around — it’s good exercise.


  1. Unattended dogs — There was one vote separating this irritant from No. 1. Dogs who are either allowed to roam off leash, or are tied up and left alone outside, or left alone in RVs without air conditioning for long periods of time so they bark, bark, bark and run into sites. One person noted that you’re not complying with campground rules to simply attach a leash and let the dog drag it everywhere it goes. Tie up the pets or leave them home.


  1. Being loud late into the night — Everyone likes to have a good time, but there comes a point when the party needs to end. Most campgrounds have quiet hour restrictions, and most guests willingly abide by that. Some don’t as they talk, shout, play music, cuss, whoop and holler well after midnight. Even when it’s not during quiet hours, it’s best to keep the noise level confined to your site — not the entire campground.


  1. Pooping dogs — It is just gross and irresponsible of dog owners to allow their dogs to poop anywhere in an RV park without picking up after their pet. It’s worse when owners allow dogs to poop in other campsites, and just as bad when they pick it up and drop the little bag in front of someone else’s RV.


  1. Barking dogs — Yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip — It’s a modern day form of Chinese water torture and drives EVERYONE absolutely up a wall after just a few minutes. Put a muzzle or bark collar on the dog if it won’t stop yapping or, better yet, pay for it to vacation at someone else’s home that weekend.


  1. Kids running wild — Especially for seasoned citizens, children appear to be a major nuisance. I am sure when they were younger, they walked in an orderly fashion everywhere they went and did not allow their voices to rise above a whisper. So, today’s children who are growing up under the watchful eye of helicopter parents are especially noisy when allowed to run free at campgrounds. In fairness, parents should encourage kids to keep voices to a reasonable level, not run into other campsites and not leave toys scattered around the campground. Also, be respectful of others. Say you’re sorry if you bump into someone or if a ball rolls into another campsite.


  1. Smoking — Lots of people don’t want to smell cigarette or cigar smoke anywhere outdoors. Some claim they are allergic to it, and others just find it annoying. However, one person noted the irony of people complaining about cigarette smoke as they’re sitting around a campfire. Smokers, to be nice, please be aware of where the smoke is drifting and try to ensure it doesn’t blow directly into open windows.


  1. Leaving garbage in fire ring — Lazy. That’s the best word I can think of for people who leave a campsite after dumping all their trash in a fire ring. First of all, campground staff aren’t paid to clean up after guests. They just make sure the site is tidy before the next guests arrive. Pulling bottles, cans, uneaten food, diapers, etc., out of a fire ring is not their responsibility — it’s the camper’s.


  1. Being loud during the day — Just as bad as being loud at night, some people are loud all day long, too. Whether its a raucous party or playing the outside stereo too loud or having the game turned to full volume on the outside TV, it’s best to remember that not everyone paid to join your party. They may be looking for a little piece and quiet. Take a walk. If you can hear the music or the TV 40 feet away, adjust the volume.


  1. Unsolicited advice — This one surprised me a bit, but it is understandable. Men — yes, you there mister big mouth — is it really appropriate for you to ask a woman why she is backing up a rig or connecting a sewer hose instead of her husband? Is it appropriate for people to walk by an RV and comment on the condition of the rig, make or model in a negative fashion? No!  Truly, it’s none of your damn business as to how other people choose to use their RVs. So, if you’re not asked, keep your mouth shut.


  1. Burning trash — Okay, as a Boy Scout, I liked to put anything I could find into a fire and watch it burn. But, when you’re camping next to strangers and dropping styrofoam, food, dead leaves and other stinky material into a fire — especially diapers — a reasonable person will realize the stench will follow the smoke. Either take it home and add it to your compost, or pop the garbage into a trash can.


  1. Asking to tour the inside RV — It drives some people nuts when complete strangers come up and say, “I saw that RV featured on the Discovery Channel. Can I look inside?” Some people are even bold enough to actually open the door and start walking in to a stranger’s RV. Remember, friendship first. Build a relationship. Develop some trust. Use common courtesy. Would you let a stranger come into your home as they walked by the house?


  1. Selecting a site close to others — This generally doesn’t apply to campgrounds where the sites are assigned, but is more applicable to open area camping on public land. If there are 80 acres of camping space available and two other campers in the same area, is it absolutely essential that you park your rig right next door to someone else’s? Campground managers, if you have room to leave adequate space between two families, please do so. They’ll appreciate the extra privacy.


  1. Cigarette butts — Anyone who has camped for any period of time has come onto a new site and found it littered with cigarette butts. It happens to me frequently. Smokers, you really need to exercise some common sense and stop making the world your litter box. If you have to toss the butts on the ground, spend five minutes picking them up before you leave.


  1. Family fighting and public discipline of children — Most people who go camping do so to escape the stress of life and to have a good time. The absolute last thing they want to do is listen to some family argument. Trust me on this, if you yell at a child in an abusive manner calling him or her all sorts of nasty names or wallop a child repeatedly, you’re likely to receive a visit from a police officer or child protective services worker.


  1. Cars impeding campsites — A common complaint is that people park cars next to their RV in a way that prevents other RVers from entering their site. This is especially true with people who arrive with more than one car. Most campgrounds limit vehicles to one, maybe two, vehicles for a reason. There is likely overflow parking for your friends up by the office.


  1. Cluttered sites — It’s amazing how much stuff people can cram into their RV. It’s possible to know because of what people bring out of their RVs and leave scattered around the campsites. The industry fights the reputation of being “trailer trash” too often without having people prove it by the way they leave their campsites. Yes, kids are messy and will abandon toys and games, but someone should probably pick them up before the site becomes a nuisance to others.


  1. Campfires burning feet away from RV — It’s true. Some people have a real life-or-death aversion to smoke. They may be asthmatic or have a lung disease. It’s also hard to sleep with smoke billowing into a bedroom window. Once inside, the smoke smell can linger for weeks. So, before lighting a campfire, make sure the fire ring is not just a few feet away from your neighbor’s RV. It’s likely he won’t want flames and soot licking at his sidewalls.


  1. Looking in windows — This is plain rude, and is especially annoying when people are cutting through someone’s RV site and staring into the windows. Others have reported people pressing their hands and face to windows to stare in. These aren’t people glancing at an RV as they walk by. They’re people who actually stop and literally stare into someone’s RV. That’s creepy!


  1. Leaving lights on all night — This is easy to forget. Many RVs have porch lights or awning lights that use bright LEDs to illuminate their patio area. Some RVs have lights over the utility compartments to aid in night hookups. Please remember to turn them off when going to bed. The bright lights can be annoying to people who are trying to sleep. Even when their shades are down a bright light can find its way into a bedroom or living area.

Next week, we’ll explore the dozens of runners up that people mentioned as being equally aggravating. Until then, have fun, be patient, be courteous and work hard to ensure everyone has a good time.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at

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  • Bob Gash says:

    One additional annoyance: out of control kids riding bikes. We’ve seen them tear up campground grass areas, run into vehicles (not their parents), skid gravel on our and neighbors’ vehicles, and, I stepped out our door once and a kid actually ran into me while cutting through our campsite.

  • Eric Funcke says:

    Generators at non-electric sites. People should not use contractor generators next door to other campers.

  • Karren Endres says:

    I like some of these and I don’t like some of them it seems to me that you are trying to take the fun out of camping

  • Rich says:

    A computer voice on the audio? C’mon Greg, you’re better than that. I can’t listen to that monotone voice with the inflections and word emphasis all wrong.

    I’ve done voice-over work for years. Next time send me the script and I’ll record it for you. No charge…😉

    • Greg Gerber says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rich. We added the text to voice feature at the recommendation of others who wanted to listen to stories. As you know, I am a one-person operation with one very part-time assistant. There is absolutely no way we will be able to afford to pay someone to read every single story we post because we post more than 200 each week.

      And, unless people are willing to start paying for subscriptions, this is the best I can do with the budget we have. I will point out that were are the only industry publication to offer text to voice. Perhaps you can approach the magazine publishers and offer your services. They have ample resources to pay for it.

      Editor, RV Daily Report

      • Rich says:

        Is that 200 per week number all YOUR articles? If not, how many do you personally do each week? You perform a valuable service here and if I can help, I’d like to know how I could best do that.

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