We’ve spent a lot of time over the years camping. In a tent. Sometimes we’ve been far from any other people, but many times we’ve been in an established campground, surrounded by marvelous scenery and other campers. Fellow campers, I’d like to offer a few DOs and DON’Ts for your consideration.
People in RVs know about quiet hours and are asked to turn off their generators after 10 p.m. While we tent campers generally don’t have noisy engines to disturb the people around us, there are things we do sometimes that can be at least as much a barrier to letting people get some sleep or enjoy their evening.
DON’T build a bonfire that rivals The Towering Inferno (especially after the folks in the sites around you seem to have retired to their tents). Consider your neighbors’ need to breathe and the amount of light your blaze is sending toward their tents. Think about this if you use lights in your site — lanterns or (please tell me you don’t do this) your car’s headlights. Being awakened by lights that make you think a UFO is landing outside your tent to whisk you away is not conducive to getting a good night’s sleep.
DO invite the campers in the next site to enjoy the warmth and cameraderie of your reasonably-sized campfire.
DON’T impose your musical selections on the entire campground. Consider headphones or keeping the volume turned low. Speaking of sound — late at night or early in the morning, be aware of how loud you are talking and laughing and closing car doors.
DO take time to listen to the natural sounds around you. Owls and other nocturnal birds have enchanting calls. Perhaps there’s a stream flowing nearby, or the breeze is making soft sounds as it blows through the trees.
DO offer a friendly smile to your new neighbors. If they seem receptive, ask where they’re from and what they’re enjoying doing while traveling. Perhaps you’ll find you have a lot in common. We’ve met many interesting people in the campgrounds where we’ve stayed. Some have become life-long friends with whom we’ve shared many hiking or climbing adventures over the years.
We love camping. We try to be good neighbors who understand that some people will choose different sleeping hours (we’re in the “early to bed and early to rise” crowd), different forms of “entertainment” in the evening (we either visit with friends or retire to our tent to read), etc. We’ve found that being considerate of others has led to a happier experience for everyone.
So, here’s to friends like Deborah and Jean and Annie and Kelly and Jim and Charlie and Chase and Vikki and Pat and Janet all the others we’ve met while camping or enjoying the great world.