We are past Memorial Day, my friends, which means camping season is fully upon us. By now most of us have gotten a few nights in our tents and sleeping bags. But that doesn’t mean we are dialed just yet. Our systems are most likely still rusty and we’re a bit unorganized. Did I put the stove in this bin or that bin? Where are the tent stakes? And who brought extra water?

And while we’d like to believe that our extra-super-ultra-radicalness would see us camping miles away from civilization, most of us will spend a majority of our outdoor sleepy time at well-populated campgrounds. We can still be good neighbors while figuring out our camping junk show. Follow campground etiquette.

Just Go Ahead And Poop Anywhere, Why Dontcha?

A few friends came into town this past weekend, allowing me to be a periphery participant in their ladies camp out extravaganza. We met for dinners in town but my lack of estrogen kept me excluded from tent time, which turned out to be a very, very good thing. At about 4 in the morning on Friday night, Ashley’s dog woke Michele by vomiting human feces at the foot of her sleeping bag. Yes, you read that correctly. Let that sink in for a moment, projectile human turd doggy barf. Gross. MacGuyver, the heaving 11-year-old lab and otherwise lovely pooch, began shaking uncontrollably, couldn’t gain his balance, and was all together really messed up.

Ashley and Michele took MacGyver to the vet (at 4:30 in the morning, mind you), where they discovered that this happened: neo Hippie eats edibles, neo Hippie poops in a poorly dug cat hole (or right on the ground), MacGuyver finds weed-laced deuce. As it turns out, marijuana is toxic to pooches and barfed up weed feces is pretty much toxic to everyone in the world. Etiquette lesson here, poop better, people. Fellow AJ staff writer Abbie Barronian has some helpful hints for you. And get hip to the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Humor goes a long way in icky situations, but nothing is funny about a campsite that smells like human low tide. Especially, if it’s at the bottom of your sleeping bag.


No, No, Get Louder

The only thing worse than a campsite turned into a mountain town music festival port-a-potty is a group of campers that use their campsite as festival grounds. I’m all for music in the outdoors, and dancing, and laughter, and high fives, and general outside goofiness. But nobody likes a loud neighbor while they’re trying to sleep. It’s like the movie theater; it’s quiet time when the lights go down. And keep it down in the a.m. Did you seriously pack a battery powered coffee grinder? Try Alpine Start instant coffee (it is actually very good). You’ll be able to enjoy some early morn tasty brew without clanging around and waking your fellow campers.

Nudity Is Way Cool

No, it’s not. You’d think that this would be self-explanatory but the MacGyver Campground Coachella Poop incident proves otherwise. This is not about body shaming or being uptight. There’s an art to dropping trou outside. Be like a surfer. They’ve got it down. Wrap a towel around yourself and get to changing. Inside the sleeping bag works well, too. I have a huge tapestry from college that I use for everything from a sunshade to impromptu changing room.

If you’re trying to beat the heat by wearing skimpy jorts and a tank top, aka The Brokini, that’s just fine. Shirtless? Well, ok I guess. But that’s a little too dude-man-bro. Folks go a-camping to enjoy views of the great outdoors, not your birthday suit. There are such things as nudist campgrounds. Seriously. However, it’ll serve you well to remember that it’s almost never the people you want to see naked that end up naked at a campground. My brother Brendan and my sister Kitty and I had a very uncomfortable encounter with a retiree in the lobster pot at Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway, Colorado a few years back. The siblings O’Connell were all clothed. The pot-bellied Santa Claus lookalike was not. Now, I am not squeamish about nudity. But my brow furrows a bit when a nude, fuzzy white-furred senior reenacts ski technique as his plums dangle in and out of 110-degree water. Just sayin’.

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