Camping Etiquette for Families


Angie Campanelli camping with kids

There are fewer ways to give kids a genuine childhood experience than a traditional camping trip.  From swimming in a fresh-water lake and grilling dinner over an open fire to capping off the night around a bonfire and driving from destination to destination, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

As more and more families toss up tents and book RVs to explore the world around them, there is a bit of etiquette to cover.  You see, not all families think the same when it comes to the great outdoors.  While some people love to share their campsite and interact with people, other families want to steer clear of other campers (especially with Covid-19 and variants still floating around).

Here is some family camping etiquette to keep in mind and review:

  1. Don’t use other occupied campsites as walking paths. Stick to the main roads or unoccupied sites only. There’s nothing more annoying (to some people) than a gaggle of kids biking across their rented property while they’re trying to eat dinner.  So, no matter how close someone’s campsite is to the restroom, don’t use it as a shortcut to the loo.
  2. Keep your tunes turned down. In the wilderness, sound really does travel and many people are only a few branches and a tent away from you. Most people escape the noise of the city to bask in absolute peace and quiet.  When you ask Alexa to play your favourite tunes, you can almost hear a collective campground eye-roll.  Opt for your headphones instead or a site that’s more secluded if you know you’re going to want to blast some beats.
  3. Consider the age of your family and book campgrounds accordingly. Campgrounds deemed “family” campgrounds are great options when you’ve got toddlers or young children with you. Most of the other campers will likely be on similar sleep/wake schedules.  Issues tend to arise when campers with toddlers set up next to a site full of teens or a group of vacationing couples.  Yes, there are noise restrictions, but they don’t kick in until 11:00 pm and most people don’t want to hear your little kids at 7:30 am if they’ve been up partying all night.  We found the most success when we booked at family-oriented campgrounds because everyone else tended to wrap up when we did and then woke for breakfast around the same time.  When we ended up with retirees, the reverse happened.
  4. Keep personal items away from public areas unless you’re prepared to share. If you toss your buckets and sand toys on the beach or playground, for example, and leave them unattended, most campers will assume they’re available for all kids. If your child isn’t into sharing, make sure you pick up after yourself and keep your toys on your own campsite.
  5. Campsites are considered private space. If your child sees toys, a slide, trucks or a scooter, for example, on someone else’s campsite, it’s not open season to go take it and give it a try. Many seasoned campers set up as though their site is their second home, so respect their right to privacy.
  6. Lock it up or lose it! Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that overnight your items won’t go missing. That said, most people will leave their entire site (except for food) set up all night – including toys, towels, chairs etc. But, there’s always a slight risk that someone might scoop a bike or scooter in the dark.  Chances are there are no security cameras and it’s pretty obvious when families are in for the night.  If your kids have a favourite bike or toy, we recommend bringing it inside at night as a precaution.
  7. Respect campsite boundaries. Most campers are great at this, but consider it a friendly reminder: not everyone wants kids running around playing tag or water gun battles through the trees on their site. Usually, you can gauge the people around you.  If someone seems less open to your kids running around their space, keep them away and respect your neighbours.
  8. In the public restrooms, clean up after yourself.  If you’re brushing your teeth and leave a wad of toothpaste, or accidentally don’t flush properly, give your space a once over before you leave.  Campgrounds aren’t cleaned as frequently due to the nature of camping.  So if you leave a mess, and everyone around you does the same, it goes gross very quickly.  So treat the space with respect.
  9. Finally, drive with caution in campgrounds.  There’s no need to speed around no matter how excited you are!  Kids are roaming about or riding bikes solo (perhaps for the first time).  Seniors are strolling about etc.  This is not the time to put the pedal to the metal.  Please proceed with caution and watch for darting toddlers.  Most are “off leash” on their campsites.

And of course…enjoy!  You’re going to make the most incredible memories that your family will remember forever.

What else would would add to this list?  Let us know?



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