How to Be a Camping Jackass

By Heather

Camping jackasses. They are all around you. You might even be one of them.

The sad thing is, it’s not hard to not be a camping jackass. One tiny bit of bad behavior from a person on a campground can ruin the entire experience for everyone around you.

Not being a camping jackass is actually pretty easy. All it takes is a little self-awareness and an understanding that you are not the only person inhabiting this planet. The rest of your behavior will flow out of that simple bit of knowledge.

Fortunately, the majority of our camping trips are free of jackasses. But when there are jackasses? Oh, my god, how it ruins everything.

At the very worst, camping jackasses can also endanger everyone by helping spread disease, starting wildfires or bringing bears to the campsites. Campers are very much at the mercy of the behaviors of the others they’re camping with, so it really pays to be an upstanding member of society and not cause trouble. It’s the only way you can ensure everyone has a good time and stays totally safe.

If you identify with any of the below, I beg of you: Stop it. Stop it right now.

How to be a camping jackass

1. Blast the Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne duet from your truck. Open the doors wide, too, so everyone can enjoy it, because you’re a giver like that.

Wish I were joking about this one, but it’s a true story. Never, ever blast your music. Not even outside of quiet hours. Not even if you think it’s the greatest music on earth. Even if it’s Wilco. No.

2. You have a horrible devil child. Bring him camping so the rest of humanity can enjoy him as well!

Some children are not fit for public consumption. No, no. Not your angelic child, of course. Just the other children.

If your kid is the type to spend an entire weekend screaming things like, “I hate you, Dad!” and “I hate hikes!” and “I h-a-a-a-a-t-e camping!“, maybe don’t take your adorable child camping.

3. Bring your unruly, barky and mean dog.


These are good dogs – Nabby and her boyfriend, Roscoe.

I’m a dog person for sure, but some dogs are not socialized well, are nervous, bark a lot, whatever. Dogs like this aren’t really great to bring camping. I’m sorry. Camping with your dog is fun, but it has to be enjoyable for the both of you.

4. Rules are for fascists!

Quiet hours are just a suggestion. The dumpster is optional, as is the bear box. Doing the exact opposite of what every single sign instructs is just a way to ensure job security for the hosts. Leave the doors open in the restrooms so wildlife can get in there and have a party. Even though the sign says the camper limit per site is eight people, bring 20 anyway.

Don’t leash your dog. Argue with the host a lot, let them know they’re wrong about everything. Everyone loves your children as much as you do and doesn’t mind them shrieking. If you’re not going to follow rules, just stay home.

5. The second quiet hours are over, par-tay!

Quiet hours typically end at a pretty early hour – 6 or 7 a.m.

I’ve been in many campgrounds where the second quiet hours are over, everyone goes bonkers and gets loud and crazy. Seems like you could kind of ease into the noise? Lots of people like to sleep in while camping, so maybe dial it back just a little.

Funnily enough, I find that the people who whoop it up as soon as quiet hours are over show a similar lack of regard for the start of the quiet hours.

6. Put your garbage right there on the ground.

I really do not understand littering at campsites. First, aren’t campers nature lovers? Why are you uglyfying nature, campers?


This is all garbage we picked up around our site at Wheeler Gorge, and we kept finding all weekend.

Second, there’s a fire right there. Your cigarette butts do not need to be on the ground. This one really confounds me.

Third, there are dumpsters.

Stop being gross.

7. Do a lot of dumb and dangerous things, like spraying lighter fluid directly into your raging campfire.

We’ve seen people do this. These are the kinds of people you will see on the news as suspects in a wildfire.

8. Have a large family? Bring all of them!

While camping at Kings Canyon, we enjoyed a couple days of peace and quiet before a family of easily 30 people pulled into the site next to ours.

They didn’t even make a show of being quiet. Nope. They had regular singing circles around the campfire every night, clapping and banging away into the whee hours, totally oblivious to the eye daggers coming at them from every direction.

While at Wheeler Gorge, we camped near people who were line dancing in the street at one point.

Well, I’ve crabbed about this enough. Any jackassery you’d like to add? Just bear in mind that the people who most need to see this probably never will. Doesn’t it feel good to vent, though?