Campground etiquette: Manners make memories – Part 2

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Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series dealing with campground etiquette. The first segment explored the Top 20 things that drive campers crazy about other campers. This segment explores the lengthy list of runners up.

By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

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.  Last week, we published a list of the Top 20 most common complaints about other campers.

Here are a few runners up for poor campground etiquette. Though they didn’t make our Top 20 list from last week, they are good to keep in the back of your mind to ensure that you’re a good neighbor.

  • Dogs rushing people — It’s intimidating to have a dog run up to some people, especially children. Remember, not everyone is a dog lover.
  • Drunks — Nobody likes a loud drunk. If you must get drunk, stay at home and visit a bar.
  • Stealing food and things from neighbor — Several reported people helping themselves to what’s in others’ coolers or things stored outside at their campsite. That’s a no-no.
  • Unattended laundry — When doing laundry, be sure to get back to the machine before the time runs out. Chances are someone is waiting to use the machine.
  • Speeding — There are too many dogs, children and people roaming the crowded campground for people to barrel through the park at 25 mph or faster. Slow down to avoid a disaster.
  • People rushing dogs — Some dogs are just as scared of people as people are afraid of dogs. Children especially should not run up to a dog without asking owners if it’s okay to pet the pooch. That’s a great way to get bit. Parents, it’s not acceptable at any time for you to pick up a child and place it on the back of someone else’s dog to “go for a ride.”
  • Unattended fires — Before retiring for the evening or leaving a campsite, the safest thing to do is completely douse the fire.
  • Biking with no regard to traffic — Children are especially known for darting around on the street without paying attention to moving vehicles. Remember, many motorhome drivers can’t see 15 to 20 feet in front of them when driving. It’s a big blind spot. Parents, chat with kids about traffic safety EVERY time you arrive at a campground.
  • Laying sewer hose over table —NEVER lay a septic hose over a picnic table to “dry out.” Do you really need someone to explain why?
  • Discourtesy — When passing others in the campground, it’s always nice to say “hello.” And, if someone greets you, would it kill you to say “hello” back?
  • Dirty bathrooms — This isn’t just the campground owner’s fault. Mama always said to pick up after yourself. Guys, that includes not peeing on the floor or on a toilet seat. Ladies, too, are also guilty. Any parent who allows a child to poop in a shower stall should be pummeled with molten marshmallows.
  • Generators — When arriving at a campsite, shut the generator off as soon as you plug in to shore power. When boondocking, if you will need to use a generator, consider parking a distance away from others and operating the generator only an hour or so at a time — not all day.
  • Pulling laundry out of a machine — Yes, the people who are washing and drying their clothes should come and pick them up on time. But, they might be running a few minutes late. Keep your hands off other people’s undies. A little grace goes a long way.
  • Idling trucks and RVs — Why oh why do some people insist on letting their diesel RVs idle for 20 minutes or more every morning? Most engine manufacturers recommend that newer diesel engines run for no more than 3 minutes before driving. And refineries have made great strides in preventing diesel fuel from gelling. It may not be necessary to idle the engine at all
  • Uncooperative parents — When someone approaches you to suggest your child is doing something he or she shouldn’t be doing, perhaps they are right, especially if your child is out of sight. Telling the reporter to pound sand may ensure you are reported to campground management.
  • Late night setup — When you arrive at a campsite late at night, the best thing to do is simply pull in and plug in quickly. Wait until morning to drop the levelers and push out the slides. Also, walkie talkies or cell phones are better than shouting for helping drivers back into a site at night.
  • Unkept parks — Dirty RV parks with aging unkept units give off the wrong impression, unless you’re looking for the slumlord decor.
  • Repairs late at night — Again, if its during quiet hours, the repairs can wait.
  • Hogging laundry equipment — If there are only three washers available to use, please don’t use all of them at once.
  • Vandalism — It is never okay to break things at the campground or other people’s property.
  • Swearing and coarse talk — Do the kids next door, or down the street, need to hear you drop the F-bomb every 30 seconds all day long?
  • Touching other kids — It is inappropriate for anyone to pick up someone else’s child without permission of the parent. That apparently also includes pushing them on a swing.
  • Emptying tanks during meals — Okay, your holding tanks are full. If the neighbors in the site next to yours are enjoying a meal, could you wait 30 to 60 minutes before filling their site with the stench of your tanks?
  • Plugging extension cords in neighbor’s site — Really, those weekly, monthly and seasonal campers have to pay for every bit of electricity they use. Don’t just assume you can use the empty outlet on their utility pole.
  • Bouncing balls off other RVs — This could be considered vandalism. At the very least, it’s super annoying.
  • Spilling sewage at dump stations — Mistakes happen. Most RVers have experienced that. But, if you dump sewage onto the ground or at a dump station, then hose it off completely. It is NEVER acceptable to dump sewage into a dump site without using a septic hose. EVER.
  • Sitting on a neighbor’s furniture — This applies more to kids than adults. If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
  • Talking to RVers during setup/take down — Hooking up a tow vehicle must be done in precise order or disaster could result. Most people also have specific routines they follow to ensure that everything is done correctly and nothing is forgotten. When you see people hooking up or tearing down, give them a few minutes to complete the tasks at hand before talking to them.
  • Requesting to turn Internet off — Some people are under the mistaken idea that a neighbor’s wireless hotspot device interferes with campground Wi-Fi. They operate on two different channels. One is wireless and the other cellular. Turning the hotspot off will not make the campground connection faster, so don’t even ask.
  • Hogging hot tubs — Doctors say you shouldn’t be in a hot tub longer than 15 minutes or you risk fainting. Be considerate of the time you’re spending in a hot tub, especially if you sense others are waiting to use it. Also, most campgrounds prohibit children from using hot tubs. No, parents, it’s not okay to bed that rule. It’s for their own safety.
  • Leaving personal items in shower — Yes, you can forget an article of clothing by mistake. But, don’t leave all your belongings in one of the few shower stalls available to all campers just so you can come back and get dressed when you’re done using the pool.
  • Brushing teeth at water spigot — This likely applies to tenters more than RVers. Most campgrounds have restrooms or showers.  Use those for personal hygiene.
  • Washing clothes in the shower — Again, most campgrounds have laundry facilities or there is a laundromat in the nearby community. It’s not appropriate to wash your underwear in the sink.
  • Washing dishes in bathroom — Not only does this risk plugging the pipes, it’s just not sanitary to wash dishes in a bathroom.
  • Placing sewer hose over spigot — Some people think its a brilliant idea to place their sewer hose over the fresh water spigot to “clean it out.” Some people are idiots.
  • Kids encouraging others to break rules — Parents of young children (under three) don’t like hearing other children encouraging theirs to break rules by saying, “It’s okay to play in the street,” or “It’s okay to go to the pool without your mom.”
  • Men using women’s restroom — I know society is changing, but most women are uncomfortable to walk into the ladies restroom or shower to find a man doing his business inside. If the men’s restroom is closed for cleaning, go back to your RV. Remember, you brought a bathroom with you. Otherwise find another facility or knock on the door and plead with the cleaner to let you use the men’s room.
  • Leaving bikes in common area — Kids do this all the time and it creates tripping hazards for others of all ages. Put the bikes in a rack or leave them at your campsite. Just don’t drop them at the pool and leave them all day.
  • Visiting kids’ tents — Many RVing families set up pup tents for children to enjoy their own adventure. It is not a good idea for any adult to approach any child’s tent, especially at night, even if the kids are noisy. Knock on the RV door and speak to the parents first.
  • Burning painted wood — Some people will burn anything. But, burning wood treated with paint or varnish can give off dangerous fumes.
  • Posting pictures of others online — Yes, that family across from you may be real dunces, but should you really post their pictures with some sarcastic comment on a public forum?  Not if you don’t want to get sued. Also, get permission of parents before taking pictures of another child, even if that child is posing with your kids. Some children are being raised in foster homes and their pictures cannot be posted online for obvious reasons. Also, some parents don’t want their children’s pictures posted online for any reason. Always ask first.
  • Outdoor sex in tents — Enough said. Get a room.
  • Chatty early walkers — When people out for an early morning walk stop to talk for 15 minutes right outside an RV, it can annoy those people still trying to sleep. If it’s still within quiet hours, take the chat to the office or agree to meet later.
  • Setting up tents on neighboring RV sites — When bringing tents for children to use, be sure to set them up on your campsite so they aren’t overlapping another site. Also, it is inappropriate to tie cords to someone else’s RV or personal property.
  • Fully cleaning tanks during rush periods — When everyone is rushing to leave a campground in the morning, do not take the time to completely flush your tanks. Most dumps can be accomplished in five minutes or less. If there is a line waiting, then dump and go. If you need to deep clean the tanks, then wait until you are one of the last people to leave the campground.
  • Inappropriate dress — This could be sitting at a picnic table with a plumber’s crack, or children stripping down to change into or out of a swimsuit, or a fat guy in a speedo. Be nice by being modest.
  • Picking flowers at seasonal campsites — Those beautiful flowers sitting outside someone’s cabin or park model may belong to its owner, not the campground. Even if it belonged to the campground, once it’s picked it can’t be enjoyed by others. Smell the roses, then move on.
  • Exploding fireworks — Not only is this a noise nuisance, it’s a dangerous thing to do in a campground. You don’t want a bottle rocket to land near someone’s propane tank or on the roof of the RV. Enjoy the professional show, don’t use fireworks at campgrounds period.
  • Wi-Fi hogs — Campground connections are notoriously slow anyway. Don’t be downloading movies or keeping your laptop connected to the Internet while you are out and about.
  • Too many campground rules — One common complaint is that campgrounds and RV parks have too many posted rules. Do you want to know why? Read the above list.

Most people responding to my impromptu survey said that weekend RVers are often the worst offenders. That makes sense because they don’t have as much experience as full-time, seasonal or frequent RV users.

Remember, an RV park is like being in the neighborhood you just left to live the dream of RVing. You’ll encounter all types of people. If complete solitude away from dogs, kids and people is what you prefer, boondocking may be the way to go.

Using a little common sense, being patient with others and extending grace will help everyone get along and enjoy a memorable experience.

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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