Five Ways to Piss Off Your Campmates

First of all, my time spent at Land of the Arches Campground was an overall phenomenal experience. The site was a mecca for climbers seeking to avoid the chaos of Miguel’s, and my buddies were big fans of the foos ball table located inside the main bunker.

Unfortunately, our camping was not without a few hiccups – thanks to a family of loud hillbillies with no concept of hushed voices, delicate footsteps, or playing by the rules. We had set up our camp in a quiet, unoccupied corner of the campground, satisfied by our wide-open surroundings, and content with our little plot of land. Look how perfect it was:

So, you want to piss off your campmates? Here are five steps to a guaranteed grumpy neighbor.

  1. Begin by arriving at to the campground at 2:30, in the morning. Lights out at camp is 11 PM? Silly campers, this group is just getting started. Forget a quickly pitched tent and instant snoozefest – this collection of inconsiderate campers went right to town setting up their gaudy tented empire. Blow up a giant air mattress with the noisiest pump you can find, hammer in your tent stakes with the mightiest banging possible, and be sure to step on your neighbor’s tent a few times in the process.
  2. During your boisterous twilight set-up process, bicker with your spouse as much as possible. “I wasn’t being nasty, you were being nasty.” – You know what’s nasty? My attitude in the morning after listening to the woes of your finicky relationship all night.
  3. Show total disregard for the concept of shared space. Sure, there’s an enormous amount of grassy sprawl across this campground, but why claim your own area when you can pitch your tent just inches away from another group? Who wouldn’t want to hear the sounds of your quarrels, complaining children, and assorted ruckus? Hog the fire pit, and for bonus points, keep your headlights on for as long as possible when pulling into the site – shining directly upon someone else’s tent, of course.
  4. Let your kids run amok. I know we’re outside, but that doesn’t excuse your excessive use of your outside voice during an hour when everyone else at camp is trying to snooze. I’m not sure which constantly repeated phrase was more obnoxious, “When are we going to Cracker Barrel?” in the middle of the night; or “Who threw away the last frosted Pop Tart?” all morning. Kid, your Pop Tart is in the trash – fish it out and eat it, or shut up and munch on something else.
  5. Don’t forget to rival your entrance spectacle with your exit strategy. Quiet hours run from 11 PM to 7 AM? Perfect, let’s wake up at 6. Since your annoyed campmates moved their tents away from your infuriating mess of a site, ensure that your noisy departure is loud enough to still reach their ears. Rev your truck’s engine a few times for good measure, let the kids haphazardly attempt taking down the tents, and loudly shout “It’s time to wake up!” in a pitch that can awaken everyone else at the campground too.

Thankfully, these rude campers only remained as our camp neighbors for two nights before heading out to infect other parts of Kentucky with their obnoxious disregard for others – but fear not, a few days later, a field trip of 30 middle schoolers descended upon the campground. Thankfully, this time we were wise enough to move ourselves to the most secluded spot in the area.

Moral of the story? Don’t be that guy. 

Do you have any sour experiences with not-so-awesome campmates? I’d love to hear ‘em!


  1. says

    Jam box with classic rock blaring into the wee hours of the morning. I like classic rock. Just not at 2 when I’m trying to sleep and get ready for a 5 a.m. start for a summit attempt.

    • says

      I am definitely NOT a fan of loud music at campgrounds – the climbers at this campground played lots of blues and soulful mountainy music in the mornings, which was wonderful, but I’m totally with you on the evening jam sessions. I like sleep, and I like quiet sleep.

  2. says

    I’d like to add a 6th. This is an infamous move in NH state parks that makes me want to give IQ tests as part of the admission fee.

    6. Arrive with minimal firewood, but enough to start a fire (with gasoline, kerosene, or just straight alcohol if necessary). Be sure to maintain a roaring bonfire capable of making Smokey the Bear cringe from wherever he is by pulling down live trees, wandering onto neighboring campsites to steal wood, or just pilfering parts of buildings. Most importantly, be sure to throw leaves, pine needles, or anything that will cause the fire to smoke your neighbors out and burn a new hole in the ozone for the entire duration of your stay. (Oh, and the fire is your trash can. Empty beer cans are totally good for fires.)

  3. Curt says

    Several years ago I did some urban camping as I traveled around Europe. This included several nights at a campground in Amsterdam. Some guitar-playing pot smokers pitched a tent right next to mine. I was less than thrilled. However, when I came back to the site after going out for the evening, I realized they were all passed out. In fact, I was the only one still up. I was as quiet as I could be, but there’s a good chance I was that guy.

    • says

      Haha – good thing about pot smokers, they don’t stay up late! I’d take a stoner tent over an alcoholic tent any day. Nothing bothers me more than loud, reckless drunk people.

  4. says

    And one more, if I may: Be sure to bring a portable generator with you to sites that do not have electricity because what would you do w/all that peace and quiet, all that darkness? Oh yes, have experienced this more times than I can count…

    • says

      Haha, thanks for the contribution, Tami! Most campsites I’ve been to have rules about not running generators after dark – I can totally jive with how awesome it must be to have electricity while camping sometimes, but I totally agree with wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature!

    • says

      Great like-minded post, Steve – thanks for sharing! It always kind of surprises me when I encounter rude campers. In my silly mind, anyone who loves being outside would naturally be a considerate nature lovin’ type. Like I said, silly. ;)

  5. says

    Left out:
    Let your dog stray & mark everything.
    Leave your howling/whining dog, unattended for hours, with no water, on a harness that it comes out of multiple times so your campmates retrieve numerous times while you’re gone.
    Don’t burn pressure-treated wood (arsenic) when wind blowing towards others.
    Don’t get up in middle of night & take a pee or drop a deuce right beside neighbor’s tent.
    When playing football/frisbee/baseball – make sure your ball doesn’t end up hitting someone else’s picnic table, knocking off container of just-made guacamole.
    Pick up your damn trash. Throwing it in woods behind others’ tents invites critter invasion.
    You may really dig your music, but the rest of us may not – keep it down, the entire campground doesn’t want to hear it.
    Don’t continually ask others to borrow stuff. I’m prepared for myself & a bit more. Not packing to completely supply you too.
    Be cordial with ampmates but don’t invade another family all the time.
    Use a little discretion during daylight when using ‘head (ie a tree). There are people around.

    • says

      Lots of bad experiences coming to the surface here – but I think the biggest tragedy is losing a batch of freshly-made guacamole! THAT’S JUST WRONG. Thanks for adding all these camping no-nos, you certainly seem to have encountered plenty of not-so-great campmates.

  6. Kari says

    How about when you camp with another family with whom you’ve agreed to split meals with… we bring lunch, they bring dinner. They bring dinner all right, but only enough for them. After they’ve eaten our food for lunch. We’re stuck with a ton of hot dogs, or a run to town.

  7. kamanninen says

    How about when you camp with another family, agree to have you bring lunches and they bring dinners, and after everyone’s eaten lunch, you find out they only brought enough for themselves for dinner! Hot dogs might be yummy, but you can only eat them so many times…

  8. Matt says

    Chester frost at the for with Kirby and other people not as tall, a group pulled a similar stunt. Only they decided to wake up super early, somehow after going to be super late, and chop wood…

  9. says

    Katie, I’m with you on campground etiquette. It distresses me that some campers have no idea that they lack it! Naturally, those with the least etiquette are often the most resistant to realizing that they have no business even being in a campground, much less being in close proximity to other people. They should really hammer on this kind of stuff in grade school! At least we might get some sleep in camp.

    Some people seem to think that going camping is a reason to get drunk and raise hell all night. I’ve always shown my distaste for such shenanigans, and as a consequence I tend to pick my campmates carefully – and keep my groups small and manageable. I surely have no qualms about reporting unruly campground behavior, and have done so on occasion.

    One early morning in Monument Valley a few years back, I awoke to trash all over my campsite – and surrounding sites – that had blown over from the site next to mine. Here’s a guy who couldn’t speak softly if he tried – the kind of yahoo who had to wait until dark to get dinner going, squirting gasoline (gasoline!) on a too-big log in an effort to cook a steak. He carried on like this all night, blasting his radio and wanting to party with everyone. All while his pregnant wife – and the sensibilities of surrounding campers – went ignored.

    I wrote Mr. Yahoo a scathing note that morning, essentially stating that he had no business camping ever again without an experienced camper to guide him properly. I placed the note on his windshield, and before I broke camp, I picked up all of his trash – he wasn’t going to be picking it up, I was sure – and, seeing his car’s driver-side window down, piled it all on the front seat of his car. You think he thought twice the next time? Well, maybe – but I haven’t been holding my breath.

    I’ve thought about that moment from time to time since, and it has guided me toward setting as good an example as I can as a camper and outdoorsman. I’m often the first camper these days to volunteer to “teach a man to fish”, so to speak, so that people will establish awareness of campground etiquette – even etiquette as it applies to each individual’s impact on the natural environment of the campsite itself.

    Good post, Katie! One definitely worth sharing.

  10. says

    Now imagine dealing with all of the above, every. Single. Weekend! Yep, that’s my job as a regional park ranger for the local county. The worst part is the way these people get all mad at u for ‘ruining’ their stay by not allowing them to do all the things you guys have listed. But thank you for reminding me that there r good campers out there too.

  11. says

    I agree with one of the early comments from Tami. Generators are my pet peeve. In National Parks they are not allowed, which is one reason why we prefer to camp there. But that pesky rule is not going to stop some people, who will give it their best shot of using them! And they leave them running when they are not at camp, or half the night. If rangers are available, a quiet word can put an end to them….But if you are not in a National Park, then pray they will have some respect for others close by!

    We know of one generator that stopped abruptly, when a disgruntled camper through sand in its engine……..and NO, it wasn’t us who did this.

  12. Stephanie says

    The worst was at a racetrack for an INDY car race. There was a loud obnoxious drunk who nearly drove over our tent. A couple of drinks are fine, don’t get so obliterated you risk injuring or killing someone!

  13. says

    I had to read this laughing because they are all too common annoyances at the camp ground. In addition to revving the truck engine before departure, Id have to add those that like to run their generator (a loud obnoxious one at that) all night long.

  14. livingandlearning says

    Lovely article. Thank you. I gave up camping thinking the campers were racist in their actions towards us. From your post I see that while that may have been true, they were more likely just ignorant campers.

    While they may very well have been racist, it is possible they were just untrained in camp etiquitte.

    Bad camping ettiquite:
    1) Padre Island National Seashore Texas. 70 miles of coastline plus more at the State Park next door and Port Aransas farther north. No. They had to camp right next to us after 10pm at night and stay awake until after 3am with dog running lose.

    2) Cedar Hills State Park Texas. Camped next to lake. Another big camper with kids set up next to me but the wonderful mom did a “lights out” for the kids and forced them into quiet time. Thank you wonderful unknown mom. Then while I was trying to light the campfire I hear laughter from up the hill. Two guys in a car had been spying on me and clocking to see how long it would take for me to start the fire. They talked so loudly about me and how inept I was. Now – people like that should not be allowed into state parks. When they saw me looking at them they revved their engine and quickly drove away calling me names.

    Been fearful of camping since that time as I camp solo. I thought maybe I was being targeted by age and gender. Now I see there are idiots no matter who you are or what you look like. Plan to go camping again but will do as I have seen others do – set up a huge base camp and fly the American flag when in the USA. Make them think twice before approaching your base camp. Make them think I might possibly have something to defend myself with. Nobody bothers people with those huge base camps. Looking solo or like a small group makes some narcissistic personality disorder people think they can run over the little guys. Shame to have to create a bigger footprint but if you have ever experienced seriously rude individuals when camping, you know they can and run any sense of peace – and I am very easy to get along with and overlook many issues and problems for the sake of peace. If campers over step etiquitte, I usually forgive easily. Those two groups seemed determined to force me to leave my camp. Moving my site away from theirs won’t matter. They like being bullies. They are bullies outside the campground and bullies inside the campground. They cannot be taught anything. Correcting them just makes them worse – except the dump the trash in their vehicle might have been an attention getter. At the National Seashore, we picked up 2 bags of trash washed ashore in the free trash bags given out at the headquarters. That was a great feeling but sadnesss at what is continually dumped into the Gulf of Mexico – lots of plastic. It was good to do a little bit to help nature which was better than doing nothing.

    What I want to know is how to safely go to sleep while blocking out noise of other campers. Headphones seemed dangerous to me because I need to be able to wake up in an emergency. How do campers protect their sites from intruders? How to do run to town or headquarters without people stealing their stuff?

  15. Sarah K says

    And don’t forget to play the accordion well into the night.

    On one trip, a friend and I were staying probably 50 feet away from the group site. The group was a family, and grandpa played the accordion WELL into the night.

    How do we know it was grandpa? Because the accordion polkas were broken up with children shouting “Grandpa, play it again!” ALL NIGHT LONG.

    On another note, I’m pretty forgiving of kids making noise in the morning (normal kids noise that is) – most kids wake up around 6 or 7am naturally, and I don’t know any parents that possess the magic to make their children quiet for hours on end.

  16. Terri says

    I know this is a lye post to this topic but I am dealing with a couple that moved in next to us..we have a beautiflu site..sloping back overlooking another layer of campers below..lush and green with permission from the owners of the campground IAm adding more plants with numerous fern types and hostas. This hillbilly couple had now cut down at least six of my plants..weed eating them to an inch high..their site has got possibly every dollar store solar angel cross,butterfly,crap mixed with Americana ,spinnets,and pink flamingos.It is the worst in this beautiful natural camping resort.I have now planted again twice now..what am I going to do..the wige has such a horrid screeching of a voice and slams every door possible when we arrive for the weekend..cant stand them..dont want to leave

  17. says

    I think I get most frustrated when people leave out food at a campsite! I’m never interested in meeting furry little nighttime visitors that someone else baits into the campsite!

    Second to that is all the noise you describe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge