Courtesy is simply defined as behavior marked by respect for others.
It seems simple and obvious, but please don’t shrug this off thinking these will be angry tirades written to scold people about leaving trash in a campsite or playing music too loudly. In fact, I’m not pointing any fingers or scolding anyone. I need these reminders as much as anyone, which is probably why I’m motivated to write them.
After all, we all just want to have fun, enjoy our camping experience, and get along with each other when we’re RVing and camping. We can all benefit by observing these occasionally overlooked campground courtesies and thereby we may all enjoy our camping experiences that much more.
Two examples of basic courtesy
It begins with me. I need to remember to close my RV door quietly when I take my dogs out at midnight, so my neighbor who is sleeping in his fifth wheel, just a few feet away from my front door, won’t be disturbed. I might want to close the door a little harder than necessary just to make sure that it’s completely closed before I head off to bed, but if I do that, it’s likely that my 83-year-old sleeping neighbor might not be sleeping once I close the door.
On the flip side, when my neighbor leaves in the morning, in his diesel truck, before 7:00 AM, I deeply appreciate his courtesy of not idling his truck outside my bedroom window for any longer than he needs to exit his site and get on the road.
Courtesy goes beyond park rules
These courtesies are not posted park rules, but behaviors marked by our mutual respect for each other. This respect begins with a perception that we’re not alone in the campgrounds and we need to be aware that all our actions could have an impact on others. We need an awareness that everyone has an equal right to an enjoyable camping experience and to be afforded basic campground courtesy.
Boondockers not exempt
Even when we’re boondocking and there isn’t another camper within miles, our behaviors can still impact others. If, for example, we leave our trash out and it attracts local wildlife like raccoons, rats, cougars, or bears, these animals may become habituated to checking the boondocking site, which could put future boondockers, with pets and children, at risk. Campground courtesy applies to boondocks too.
Another example of bad etiquette
Here’s another example. We frequently camp in and among Canadians and we have observed that as a group, they spend more time outside than inside, regardless of the size and type of their rig and regardless of the weather.
Last year, for example, we spent several months camping on Vancouver Island and the weather was wet and foggy for most of that time, but our Canadian neighbors were undaunted by this cold, damp weather.
As a side note, I have to say that our Canadian neighbors who love the outdoors, have made campground tarping an art form, and some of their elaborate tarp constructions literally took my breath away.
But back to the example. When I observed that our campsite neighbors spent most of their time outside, I needed to be more mindful of the direction of the wind. To apply basic campground courtesy, if the wind was blowing directly across our site into their site and they were outside, it would have been discourteous to start a smoldering smoky fire in my fire pit.
Certainly, they didn’t expect me never to build a fire, but I needed to make sure that it was not the kind of fire that just smoldered and made a lot of smoke particularly when they were outside.
Common courtesy would say that the smoke from my fire shouldn’t be a reason my neighbors couldn’t enjoy their camping experience. In a similar vein, loud music from my neighbor’s radio, shouldn’t diminish my enjoyment of a quiet place to relax or read.
But here’s the basic problem
It’s too easy to get lost in our own thoughts, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and completely miss the fact that our behaviors impact others. We’re usually so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we never give others around us another thought, and campground courtesies get lost in all the distractions.
It is, therefore, my hope that writing these posts about a few overlooked behaviors will raise everyone’s awareness and help us form habits of thinking about the people who are around us now, AND the ones who may follow us later, into a particular campsite or boondocking hideaway and these thoughts will lead to a habit of campground courtesy.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com