Some friends recently joined my wife and I for what we thought would be a quiet weekend of boondocking along a reservoir in the Washington Cascades. Work schedules allowed us to arrive on a Thursday evening virtually assuring us “first dibs” on the best camp spots. Upon arriving we pretty much had the place to ourselves and we selected a place overlooking the lake with the closest RV (unoccupied) about 100 yards away. Friday found us on a long bike ride away from camp. Upon returning we discovered we had neighbors less than a desirable distance away from us. However, it soon became apparent that the situation would continue to deteriorate when we discovered our neighbors were part of a club as more of their members began to arrive Friday night and fill in between us and the already too close neighbors.
While there are few official boondocking (aka dispersed camping) rules issued by federal land managers, there is understood boondocking etiquette by those who boondock on a regular basis. A recent blog entry by Wheelingit pretty well sums the 7 do’s and don’ts of boondocking etiquette which are as follows:
1/ Use Existing Roads & Camping Spots
2/ Pack It In, Pack It Out
3/ Pay Attention To Stay Limits
4/ Keep A Respectful Distance From Your Neighbor
5/ Be Neighborly About Pets & Noise
6/ Be Sociable, Be Private…
7/ Share The Land
Let’s see how our club members scored:
1/ Use Existing Roads & Camping Spots – PASS: Other than some tents and vehicles in undisturbed areas, they did fairly well on this one, although one camper decided to camp right on the access road, which is not quite the intent of “Use Existing Roads”.
2/ Pack It In, Pack It Out – PASS: Being that we left before they did, I will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one and assume they cleaned up after themselves.
3/ Pay Attention to Stay Limits – PASS: Being that they were obvious weekend warrior types, I suspect a two week stay would be out of the question for them.
4/ Keep A Respectful Distance From Your Neighbor – Epic FAIL: My wife and I had a tent pitched 10′ from our RV and our friends returned from a hike in their tow vehicle to find their parking space had been taken over by a tent less than 10′ from their RV.
5/ Be Neighborly About Pets & Noise – FAIL: While they kept their music off, liberal amounts of beer contributed to elevated voices throughout the night and early morning.
6/ Be Sociable, Be Private… 50% credit on this one as the neighbor along our RV did introduce themselves and their young daughter befriended me, while our friends’ neighbor was less than pleased to move his tent.
7/ Share the Land – Fail: While our neighbors had equal right to use the land, they failed to share it respectfully.
Final score: 3.5 out of 7 or 50%. As I recall from my school days this would be a F.
My goal in sharing these do’s and don’ts is in the hope they might be read by some of our less than neighborly neighbors and be put into practice during future outings. Ultimately, our RV is on wheels and if we don’t like our neighbors we can always move, but being onsite first only to be overrun by others is a bit frustrating. I guess it is just another less than pleasant adventure in RVing!
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.