Camping Etiquette Tips

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What is the "Tread Lightly!" mission?

The Tread Lightly Pledge

Here is the Tread Lightly! Pledge:

Travel and recreate with minimum impact

Respect the environment and the rights of others

Educate yourself--plan and prepare before you go

Allow for future use of the outdoors--leave it better than you found it

Discover the rewards of responsible recreation

What if there isn´t a toilet around?

Bathroom Woes

This is the big question that seems to keep most women away from camping. Without going into too much detail, be assured that it is possible for a woman to "take care of business" outdoors. Take your own toilet paper with you, find a nice size bush or a rock to duck behind, drop your shorts, squat as close to the ground as possible and let nature take its course. The first time is the hardest, but believe me, it gets easier after a couple of tries. If you're still unsure on the subject, there's an excellent book you might want to take a look at, called "How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art" by Kathleen Mayer.

How much distance should be between tents within a camp?

Proper Spacing between Tents

Everyone wants a like privacy when they camp. If there are going to be multiple tents in your camp, think about your tent placement and how it will provide you and the other campers with some privacy. A good rule of thumb is to pitch your tent out of "snoring" range of the other tents....especially if you are the one that snores.

How do I practice "Leave No Trace?"

You were never there.

To practice "leave no trace" camping:

1) Choose the most durable surface available for your campsite. Rock, sand, or dry grassy meadows are your best options.
2) Always select a heavily impacted site over one with little or no signs of use.
3) Set up your tent out of site of any trails and at least 200 feet from water and game trails.
4) Move your tent every day to keep from compressing ground and depriving a single spot of light and air. 5) Vary your routes to and from water sources, and between the cooking area, food storage, and tent so you don't create paths.

How much distance should be between camps?

No Camping Near Another Camp

Nothing is more aggravating than to have someone camp near you. The opposite is a problem one else wants you to camp near them. A good rule of thumb is to camp out of sight and sound of all other camps.

What are some common sense tips for camping?

Obvious Camping Etiquette

Here are some obivious camping etiquette thoughts. Please protect our great backcountry.

If you carry it in, please carry it out-this will eliminate litter.

Camp in a designated campsite within the campground, unless you have obtained a special backcountry camping permit.

Protect water sources from contamination.

Use biodegradeable soap, or try hot water soapless dishwashing, bathing and clothes washing.

When using soap (even biodegradeable) and toothpaste, dispose of the wastewater at least 100 feet away from natural water sources and well or faucet water sources.

Be a good neighbor - control your noise and your pets.

Be respectful of the natural environment -- keep the trees and shrubs alive and growing.

When hiking, stay on designated trails. This keeps damage to vegetation and erosion in one place.

Always keep your dog on a leash no longer that 6 feet, and away from public swimming areas.

Barking and not cleaning up after pets leads to many complaints from other campers. Campers are responsible for their pets at all times. Do not leave them unattended. Pets should be on a leash 6 feet or less, in length.

Avoid borrowing tables from other sites. This creates problems for campground managers and other campers, when they must retrieve the table for the site from which it was taken.

Quiet Hours are typically from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.. Voices carry far at night. Moderation is essential.

Nails and wires should not be used on trees because they can cause serious damage to trees. It is illegal in some states to put nails into a tree, unless you have permission from the landowner. Burn damage will permanently scar or kill a tree.

Before leaving the campsite, clean your fire pit for the next camper.

Clean your campsite before leaving. Make it as clean as you would want it if you were arriving that day. The next camper will appreciate it.

Can I play my CD´s in camp?

Keep Noise to a Minimum

One of the main reasons to camp is so that you can enjoy the peace you can only find in a remote place. So you may not want to bring your boombox, especially, if someone else is going to be in your camp. When in doubt, ask others if it is OK to listen to the music or the ballgame.

Where should we place the latrine?

Latrine Location

Locate the latrine downstream and downwind of camp. Ensure that it is far enough away from water (river, stream, lake, etc) to avoid contamination of the water. You'll also want some privacy, typically 100 yards from camp is a good distance.

What are outdoor ethics?

Principles of Outdoor Ethics

Here are the Principles of Outdoor Ethics as put forth by Leave No Trace, Inc.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

How to I "go potty" outdoors?

When Nature Calls

While it is totally natural, there tends to be a looming fear surrounding bodily functions in the wilderness. We will try to dispel those fears with a clear and concise explanation of what to expect. It's not as bad as you think!

Urinating is often depicted as a man watering a tree. However, in some areas, animals, desiring the salt from our urine try to eat the tree bark or plants we pee on. Both sexes should try to urinate on rocks or sand and away from water sources. Urinating directly on the trail is often the best place.

Catholes are our outhouses in the backcountry. You simply dig a 6-8 inch deep, 4-6 inch wide hole, and defecate in it. As intimidating as it seems, many outdoor enthusiast prefer pooping in the outdoors to the indoors. By using stones under your feet and/or leaning up against a tree or downed log, the squatting position can in fact be very comfortable and is actually the most anatomically correct body position for relieving oneself! All toilet paper used in the backcountry must be packed out in a plastic bag. You might be willing to forego toilet paper and go with "natural alternatives"; clean stones, smooth sticks, moss, big green leaves and snow are all popular alternatives.

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Carol Sponagle