Mind Your Manners

 Posted by at 12:42 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 302013

I’ve had three e-mails in the last two days from RVers writing about campground problems that make me wonder how so many people never learned basic manners as children. So today, let’s talk about how to be a good neighbor.

Most RVers are pretty laid back, but living in a campground is much like living in an apartment; sometimes the neighbors can be very close, and the walls are pretty thin. There are times when this can magnify little irritations people might otherwise ignore.

Being a good neighbor is easy, whether you live in a house, a condominium, a motorhome, or a fifth wheel trailer. All it takes is common sense. Of course, we all know how rare that can be. So let’s review some basic campground etiquette.

We have had to close our motorhome’s windows more than once because a neighbor is sitting outside smoking and it’s coming right inside our rig. They don’t want their RV to smell like smoke, but it’s apparently okay to make your neighbors’ smell like an ashtray? If you must smoke, and don’t want to do it inside your RV, go stand by the dump station.

A lot of RVers feel the same way about campfire smoke. Weekend campers just love their fires, and it seems like the smokier, the better. And all that smoke is usually going in somebody’s windows. I always wonder how those campfire lovers would feel if I sent my smoking neighbor to light up under their windows. If having a campfire is an important part of your camping experience, use dry wood and learn to build a fire that doesn’t smoke so much, or better yet, get a Campfire In A Can. They’re convenient, you don’t have to buy firewood, there’s no smoke, and no worry about making sure your fire is completely out before you call it a night.


Loud music, loud TVs, and loud conversations can quickly make you unpopular around the campground. Again, many RV sites are in close quarters, and sound carries. You may love Hank Williams or Gloria Gaynor’s music, but the folks next door may not be fans. Likewise with your favorite television shows. If you have hearing difficulties, don’t crank the volume up, get a set of headphones!

Terry and I are night owls and it’s not uncommon for me to write late into the night. We usually have the TV on, but we are careful to keep the volume low so as not to bother our neighbors. While RV parks have quiet hours, noise pollution is not appreciated any time of the day. That includes having loud conversations with somebody you meet up with during your invigorating early morning walk, especially while you are standing in one place next to someone’s bedroom window! Not everyone is up with the sunrise.

It’s no secret that while I love dogs, I hate yappy little dogs. Keep your mutt quiet. It’s just that simple! Because you choose to have an excitable dog that barks at everything it sees or hears does not mean your campground neighbors should have to listen to it. At our current site at the Orlando Thousand Trails, every morning about 7 AM a fellow rides his bike past with a noisy little dog in the basket. And he stops to chat with one of our neighbors, who also has a yappy little dog. So everybody has to listen to the noise in stereo. Neither owner attempts to quiet their dogs down, they just ignore them and talk louder. What clods! I recently had the owner of two noisy dogs tell me that he had just learned to ignore them. Well, this old dog doesn’t want to learn any new tricks, including turning a deaf ear to incessant barking.

Kids are like dogs; just because you love yours doesn’t mean everybody does. We’ve met a lot of RVers who travel with children or grandchildren, and most of those youngsters have been very well mannered. But we’ve had a few occasions when kids have been left to run wild with no adult supervision. Somebody told me once that in the case of dogs or children, it all comes down to how they were raised. At the risk of offending my friends who travel with children, I had to admit that there’s some truth to that statement.

Another real concern with kids in campgrounds is safety. I’ve seen little ones riding bikes and even tricycles down campground roads, unsupervised, while huge RVs with many blind spots are coming and going. It scares me to death. Years ago, at Kentucky Horse Park, Terry was guiding me as I backed into a campsite when two kids on bikes rode right between her and our bus conversion. Terry didn’t see them coming until they were there, and I never saw them at all!

We all have to dump our black tanks, but if you’re on a full hookup RV site, show your neighbors some consideration. If they are sitting outside eating or reading, wait to dump your tanks until they go back inside. You may think your poop don’t stink, but trust me, it does.

A pet peeve of many RVers is the folks who start their diesel rigs up and let them idle for prolonged periods of time to allow them to properly “warm up.” Most seem to be the same people who feel the need to leave the campground before dawn. No modern diesel engine needs to warm up for long periods of time, nor does it need a prolonged cool down time when you pull into an RV park. By the time you have gotten off the highway and made your way to the campground it’s cooled down.

We see it all the time. We are going out to run an errand and somebody is sitting in the road blocking traffic while they talk to somebody. Campground interior roads are usually narrow and there may not be room to get around a stopped vehicle. Pull off the road if you’re going to chat.

When somebody rents a campsite, that’s their property until it’s time to leave. Cutting across campsites is rude. Would you want somebody trespassing across your yard?

We have a washer/dryer combo unit in our Winnebago, but a lot of RVs don’t. Campground laundries are usually very clean, but they’re not as big as the commercial places in town and there may be several people using them at once. If you have clothes in the machine(s) stay with them. Don’t go back to your rig to make a quick snack, or call your sister back home. And if you do, don’t be surprised to come back and find the next person unhappy that they had to wait to use the machines when your clothes were done. Or, don’t be surprised to find your clothes sitting on a table (or the floor).

So there you have it, a basic primer on how to be a good campground neighbor. Like I said, common sense.

Thought For The Day – If the Mayans have taught us anything, it’s that if you don’t finish something, it’s not the end of the world.

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Nick Russell

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  28 Responses to “Mind Your Manners”

  1. Yup! Being camp hosts in state parks, we’ve seen all that and then some. You should have seen what I saw in a camp site yesterday. No. On second thought maybe you shouldn’t.

  2. About campfires, for some of us it causes breathing problems to have that smoke in our RV. I agree the campfire in a can is a better idea.

  3. This needs to be printed out and handed to people as they check in! Great job ofa lesson on basic manners.

  4. As you have said many times Nick. Thats why an rv has wheels you can move anytime you don’t like the neighbors.

  5. Sounds like you need to go park out in the desert to solve all your issues.

  6. Marilu Neally says: January 30, 2013 at 8:29 am

    This needs to be printed out and handed to people as they check in! Great job ofa lesson on basic manners.

    Great idea Marilu; but getting those thick-headed clods to read them is the challenge…

  7. Great article and it touches on many of the sensitive issues we RVers have faced at one time or another. Yes, if we don’t like it we have wheels and can move but that really doesn’t solve the problem. We are finding more and more of these situations in campgrounds as a lot of the parks are now changing to more permanent RVers and/or construction or oilfield workers. I’ll be sharing this article. Thanks again.

  8. I wish this was required reading when you check into a campground. You should have added musical air horns. I really don’t need to hear On The road Again every time somebody drive out at 0-Dark-30.

  9. I keep hearing the same thing Joe said, you have wheels so move. But that’s wrong. Why should RVers who pay for their site and obey the rules have to move away from the rude jerks. Make them move instead!Right down the highway. We rented a site for the winter here in the Fort Myers area and I don’t have to pick up a newspaper since our neighbor has Fox news on loud enough all day every day that we can’t hold a conversation out under our awning. The manager says they’ve told him to turn it down over and over but he turns it right back up. We asked to be moved but there are no open sites, and they won’t give us a refund because we got a special rate by paying 4 months in advance.

  10. It all boils down to POOR PARK MANAGEMENT. If the park or manager choses not to enforce the rules, then you can’t expect people to follow them. The rules are there for a reason, to make EVERYONE’S stay safe and comfortable. If someone is breaking the rules, warn them once and if they persist, toss them out. They probably weren’t worth having around anyway.

  11. Maybe you miserable old grouches should move to a nice quiet nursing home. We go to a campground so our kids can run and play, not sit quietly with their thumbs in their mouth and I get so tired of everybody complaining about every little noise!!!! They’re kids and kids make noise. Dogs bark. Live with it!!!!

  12. Nick, the only thing I would add is that not all children behave badly because of the way they are/were raised. Some special needs children don’t have all of the same internal filters we “normal” beings have and do not always recognize when they are behaving improperly.

    My autistic son is an example. He is generally very well behaved, but he does a couple of things that could be considered “bad” behavior. The first is that he sometimes interrupts other people when they are talking. Often times, if an idea comes into his head it comes riight out of his mouth with no thought and likely no awareness of what is going on around him. Sometimes, this results in things said in public that might be more appropriately said in private or in things that serve to embarass someone, although he is usually unaware that is occurring.

    Another thing he sometimes does is speak loudly if you didn’t quite catch what he said the first time not realizing that volume wasn’t necessarily the problem. It isn’t that he is rude, inconsiderate, or poorly raised. It’s that his internal processor works differently from most of us. Admittedly, though, that is not the case with most children.

  13. great blog, I have to admit we have had very little problems with noisy neighbors. We had one incident that was in a membership park in Washington, this was with neighbors who did not supervise their kids, they let them drive a golf cart unsupervised and after almost hitting our car twice we asked them to please control the kid, they totally ignored us, went to the manager and explained that this kid who was about 8 has almost hit the car twice and the parents just laughed at us, we were politely told they have the right they are members you are guest and did nothing. We just ended up moving the car. We had no choice but to stay since our next reservation were two weeks away. Lucky they left the next morning and did not return while we were there. Management need to enforce the rules members or not.

  14. Sounds like Rick and Sue are part of the problem.


  15. I would like to add that a campsite you have rented is like an apartment (apt) or house you have rented. While you are in that campsite you don’t want anyone walking over the yard, playing loud music or TV, yelling, dog barking, etc. It is the same at a house or apt. In a CG you call the manager, in a house or apt you call the police. I think Nick has presented valid points about being a good neighbor no matter where you are living. After all I am not camping in my RV, I am LIVING in my RV. Courtesy should be practiced at all times.

  16. I second the kids one, stayed at a state park campground and kids were running and screaming all over, trespassing on other’s campsites and STEALING from the campsites. See what unintended chidlren do???? Just because you are camping with your kids, DOES NOT mean parenting is on a vacation!!

    Read the campground rules. While staying at Bahia Honda Florida, they have
    a tree that is poisionous! Suprisingly called Poision Wood! Two idiots next to us were gathering poison wood to burn in their campsite grill! Sheesh..

  17. Thanks for mentioning the campfires. All you can do is hope you get your windows closed before the smoke permeates everything in the RV.

    We rarely make long term reservations till we’ve tried out a park for at least one night. If we find ourselves in a park that is kid-centered or does not prohibit campfires, we move on the next day. We are frequent visitors to the “RV Park Reviews” web site, where other RV-ers review the parks and often mention these sorts of problems.

    These sorts of annoyances are why you will often find us in Wal-Mart parking lots for overnight stays. Why pay to be aggravated?

    We stay long term at two parks that we liked well enough to purchase lots. In both cases we became active in their homeowners’ associations so that we could have some control over our environment.

    I realize these suggestions won’t work for everyone, but they have helped us.

  18. Well written blog that should be read by everyone who checks into a campground. We had experience with many, if not all, of these issues during our time as full-timers.

    Because I wanted to make sure we were being as polite as possible, when we were new to the lifestyle, I inquired on a well-known RV forum about walking across empty sites (there were two or three rows of unrented sites between our fifth-wheel and one of the laundry buildings). I, of course, knew better than to cut across rented sites. The folks that responded were quite rude and acted as though I was an ignorant boor. I appreciate your tactful information. BTW, I always take the long way around now. 😉

    On the other hand, there are people who just insist on being disrespectful. We had rented a seasonal site one summer. On the fourth of July, the neighbors invited about 50 people over to drink and party. The noise was bad enough, but when they started to set up right behind our rig (in our site) and send up “fire balloons” (not sure what they are called, but they had an open flame within a few feet of my living room), I asked them to please stay on the other site. I was greeted by laughter and very rude language. Park management pretty much said, “It is a holiday. Just let them do what they want.” We left after the season and have not been back.

  19. Nick, I agree with most of your blog today BUT, I find it difficult to understand
    peoples dislike for campfires. True, many cannot tolerate smoke anymore.
    For them it would be wise to choose camping areas without fire pits.
    While raising our children (7) we always stayed at State parks in our
    state where they always had firepits. At the end of the day it was relaxing and
    fun for the kids to roast marshmallows or make smores. Camping was
    quality time spent with our children when we could all relax. We always tried
    not to have smoking fires. Now, we meet once a year at a campground with
    as many children and grandchildren (11) can make it. They camp in anything
    from tents to motorhome. Between the kids and grands we have several
    former boyscouts including an Eagle Scout so we all know how tobuild a
    good fire. So now, as old grandparents, we still enjoy sitting around the
    campfire toasting marshmallows.
    We also did not let our kids run thru others campsites and don’t approve of it
    either and they were never boisterous. Behavorial rules applied when at home
    or away.
    We are not fulltimers but we do spend a few months in the winter in warmer
    climates and the RV parks here do not have firepits (not needed).
    Just had to voice my opinion on this topic..

  20. I agree with most of your rules. They are very well thought out! Managers are supposed to enforce the rules since they make them. We are not allowed to have tents in our park for storage purposes. There was one person sited and told to take theirs down yet two other tents are still standing and no one has told them to take them down to my knowledge.One of them said the management gave them a waiver to have their tent. I always have said you make a rule, enforce it. If not, don’t have the rule to begin with If management doesn’t respond, I say to get the owner of the park involved. Enough said. 🙂

  21. Well I will never understand why people want to “Camp” and hate campfires. Now maybe there could be small areas that don’t allow campfires but it seems that not wanting any campfires is hard for me to understand. So you chose to live in our playgrounds and we are supposed to stop playing. My wise and I are both in our 60 and there is nothing we like better than sitting around a camp fire. We even have a fire ring in our backyard at home. So do our neighbors.What I hate is those that need to consume alcohol to excess every day and night. i agree about the 200k diesel knocking away spewing more smoke than three campfires and it sure doesn’t smell like cedar.

  22. As Connie B. said above, a lot of us don’t CAMP in our RVs, we LIVE in them. So maybe we don’t “live in your playgrounds” Gary, maybe you “play in our back yard.” Every coin has two sides

  23. Paul
    Actually they were designed as playgrounds well before people decided to live in them. It;’s the same thing that has gone on all over this country recently people move into a rural area and don’t want the farmers to farm. Move next to a fab shop and don’t like the noise. Move next to an airport and complain about the planes. Move next to a dirt race track and complain about the dust. Some of you decide to live in “CampGrounds” and don’t want people to camp. Now I would love to full time myself for a few years( or the rest of my life) but my wife doesn’t. But if I did chose to live on the road I wouldn’t expect the campers to quit camping so I could live in their campgrounds. I find it very much like the manners Nick was referring to in the start of the post. If you are living next door to a farm don’t complain about the tractor noise. If you are living next to a fire ring don’t complain about the campfire.

  24. Virg
    Twice I have had a seasonal site where the management renter out space beside our camper on our lot on busy weekends we weren’t there. Once they even lied to me about as if our neighboring campers wouldn’t let us know. So campers aren’t the only issue. As far as cutting through empty sites in federal and state sites I see no issue with it at all.

    My pet peeve is those that think they have to drive to the bath house when its 200 yards away. But the problem there may well be me and not the action.


  25. Garry, I think part of the problem is that we are talking apples and oranges here. We very seldom go to state or national park campgrounds, we go to commercial RV parks. The word campground gets used for both. And you are right, those state and national parks were set up as playgrounds. That’s why we avoid them and spend our time in commercial campgrounds.

  26. Nick
    I understand that and if Campfires are prohibited than I support that there shouldn’t be campfires. However I have stayed at some commercial campgrounds as well many of which have had fire-rings. Most of the American Legion campgrounds have as had fire rings as well. Many of the so called commercial facilities are always pushing for family memberships for vacations. Where you have kids you will have some noise. I met and talked to you wife on the Ice Rink at Hershey a few years ago, missed you talk because I don’t wear a watch.

    I actually prefer to stay at state and National campgrounds specifically because I don”t usually have to be parked 6 feet from some house on wheels with 4 slideouts, a deaf old man with a loud wife who thinks they have to move on at 6:00 am. I try and be a decent neighbor but have failed at times mostly by being late getting where I am staying, and that is usually where it takes me four tries to get parked, especially back when I had my little 5th wheel.

    I have also had seasonal sites and the beauty of that was I usually camped when everyone else had to go home and go to work…. SO I can be a grumpy old man as well.:)



  27. And because of the issues you and others have listed, we have searched out private property (acreage) in remote locations. We are willing to assist the owner with chores; tasks or whatever needs to be done. This has been a successful endeavor so far.

  28. Really great. . .shared the link on my ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing FaceBook page. . .if only folks would pay attention. . .seriously! 🙂

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