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Old 01-24-16, 10:24 AM   #1
MikeRides
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Camping etiquette

Just out of curiosity, for those of you who use public campgrounds, what do you do if you encounter rowdy weekend campers? My daughter (9) and I rode the ECT early last summer, stayed at a private owned campground somewhere outside of Rochester. We had reservations and didn't really think ahead that we choose a weekend after graduation and could encounter late night parties. The campground had a quiet time curfew of 10pm but that doesn't stop a large group of college-bound drunks partying it up. I did walk over to their campsite to ask them repeatedly if they could keep the noise down, and they did for a few minutes anyway. There was no night manager on duty (that part seemed to really shock me) to complain to, and the owner/manager the next morning just brushed it off and said "yeah sorry, they just graduated and so long as they didn't make a mess we wouldn't have done anything." That said, I can usually sleep through ANYTHING but my daughter's a real light sleeper and didn't get any sleep that night. As we pedaled off, I looked over at her and saw her yawning so for safety reasons we opted to skip that day's ride and just stayed at a motel. Ever since I've been thinking about how I should've handled that situation, maybe I should've called the police? Then again I didn't want to risk waking up to slashed tires and/or something worse which could have delayed us even more. Not to mention, if the campground owner wouldn't have done anything I doubt the local police would've been any help. We're going to do the ride again over spring break, and won't be returning to that campground but nonetheless I'm going to pack some ear plugs for her to wear to bed in case we have a similar situation.
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Old 01-24-16, 11:09 AM   #2
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I would have likely moved my tent to another available site further away from the action, if it were at all possible. If there were no other sites available, then I would have probably "made" another campsite somewhere on the edge, all in order to avoid conflict and spoiling the evening. After you made your case and they were not cooperative, you have to either move on or desire the more confrontational scenario, which I generally do not.
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Old 01-24-16, 11:55 AM   #3
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First, I wouldn't describe a privately owned campground as a "public campground". To me a "public" campground is one run by a government entity like a city, state or federal campground.

That said, I haven't had too many problems in campgrounds of any kind. The few times I have had problems, I take a more passive/aggressive approach. I'm an early riser and if someone has made a lot of noise all night, I'm going to make as much noise as possible when I wake up. Banging pots outside of their tents at dawn certainly wouldn't do any good for a hangover. Otherwise I just endure.
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Old 01-24-16, 12:09 PM   #4
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There really isn't much to be done. As you found out, asking them nicely is not likely to help. Some friends had to abandon a supported tour in Idaho last year. They were to camp for several nights in Sandpoint but there were redneck teens with loud trucks raising a ruckus all night. They found out neither the organizers nor police were interested in doing anything. They ended up taking a LONG cab ride back to their vehicle.
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Old 01-24-16, 12:12 PM   #5
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This can be a problem. This is also one of the reasons that everything else being equal, I tend to look for more primitive campsites. I find that they are somewhat less likely to attract the party crowd (no electricity, etc.).
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Old 01-24-16, 12:24 PM   #6
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Fill up a solo cup and try to pick up college chicks. Girls dig guys with kids. I'm usually at a festival and there's nothing to be done. I remember one time what i thought was a drum circle right outside my tent. Next morning I go out and there's a truck with dents all over it that people were banging on all night. Not much you can do but leave or bring earplugs. Switch sights early if it looks like a bunch of younguns with alcohol.
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Old 01-24-16, 12:35 PM   #7
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bring earplugs.
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Old 01-24-16, 01:31 PM   #8
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It happens a lot, especially in Europe. Europeans don't seem to go camping to enjoy nature, but for a holiday and partying. And a lot of their campgrounds have beer gardens. Not so much the case in in North America.

I have not had much success in asking people to be quieter. Like your experience, they only comply for a short time. On a tour this summer we had a couple of young guys who closed down the beer garden. One of them was heaving up the night's refreshments most of the night. Sometimes there is a little justice

What we learned is to pay a little extra and get out of the cheaper tenting section if possible. We also do not camp close to any groups of young people. We have also just picked up our gear and moved to another spot, and at times to a quieter place that was not actually a designated camping spot.

I think it is just part of the touring experience.
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Old 01-24-16, 01:49 PM   #9
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Rather than be a Grouch and complain about the sounds of Children, in Family commercial European Camp sites ,

I Just Bring earplugs .. If there was a party, touring Solo, I might just go join it and meet new people ..

Found Pubs in Hostels In Belgium and NL. Good Times..

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Old 01-24-16, 02:33 PM   #10
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I'm so tired at the end of the day it takes a lot to keep me awake.

But I did sleep in a very noisy Canadian campground this summer and I just ignored it, put my headphones on and played Pink Floyd a bit louder.
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Old 01-24-16, 03:33 PM   #11
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This can be a problem. This is also one of the reasons that everything else being equal, I tend to look for more primitive campsites. I find that they are somewhat less likely to attract the party crowd (no electricity, etc.).
Generally true, but there can be exceptions. One time when I camped in the NJ Pine Barrens we stayed at a campgound that was hike/canoe access only and is usually quiet. But on this night a teen band had brought their equipment powered by some car batteries and inverters. And they were just practicing so they weren't even going through complete songs but repeating certain segments over and over.

My worst experience was also in NJ but at a car-accessible state park. Campers near us apparently didn't have warm enough sleeping bags so they were trying to stay warm by keeping a fire going all night. But they didn't have enough chopped wood so every hour or so we'd hear them start up their chain saw. The next morning we discovered that they had cut down some live trees in the campground. Last we saw of them was when they and all of their gear were escorted out of the park by a number of park rangers to the cheers of the other campground guests.

Fortunately such experiences are rather rare in most public campgrounds.
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Old 01-24-16, 03:59 PM   #12
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This can be a problem. This is also one of the reasons that everything else being equal, I tend to look for more primitive campsites. I find that they are somewhat less likely to attract the party crowd (no electricity, etc.).
Or wild camp with even more privacy.
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Old 01-24-16, 04:02 PM   #13
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On shared public campgrounds, I would be polite and ask if they could keep it down a touch or if we can move to opposite ends or have some sort of mutual agreement. Generally I would avoid non-primitive campsites if I can and try and find some that are mostly empty or filled with hikers or cyclists.

I would keep some lightweight foam earplugs on hand just in case nobody is looking to be reasonable and you cannot move.

If people are being unreasonable after 11pm or so you could smash boomboxes and full beer bottles or cans but you would probably run into some problems having to keep an eye on your stuff or the rowdy morons going after you. I would generally avoid that but it is a suggestion none the less.
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Old 01-24-16, 04:58 PM   #14
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So far, thankfully, we've really only encountered this a couple times in Europe.

Couldn't move to another site because everything was full ... and everyone spoke German which I'm not really strong in so communication was a problem. We did complain, but discovered a little bit later that Security was having drinks with the group next to us. The person on the front desk the next morning told us that if the noise bothered us we should have complained during the night ... of course, we had, but obviously Security didn't record it. So the whole thing was just shrugged off.

We napped in a quiet little spot later in the day, and that night we stayed in a hotel.


In another campground, the group next to us was starting up during the evening, then left and went into town and peace fell over the campground. They returned about 3 am making all sorts of noise and were trying to get into the campground the back way right next to us. What they didn't know, or forgot, was that there was a huge hedge of nettles that ran the whole length of the campground almost to the Rhine. They attempted to get through the nettles ... and the partying whooping and hollering turned to shrieks and screams!

We caught the train the next day out to a somewhat more remote location (small town) and found a delightfully quite little campground where we spent several days.
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Old 01-24-16, 05:47 PM   #15
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When the manager already has said they would have done nothing if they had been there, I think your only recourse would be if there are any travel sites that lists reviews for that private campground, you could describe your experience.

On three occasions I have advised the park staff at state parks of some problems. On one of those occasions I went into my tent to get my cell to call 911 but when I got back out of the tent the guy with the menacing dog that was casing the campsites disappeared. I think he was looking for stuff to steal while masquerading as someone walking his big dog, and the dog would be his protection if he was caught.
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Old 01-24-16, 09:43 PM   #16
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If someone's evening entertainment could keep me awake, it means I didn't ride hard enough that day. Fortunately for me, when my child was young enough to ride with me he was an even deeper sleeper than I am. I'd count myself lucky if they didn't come over and ask me to snore more quietly so they can hear their music.

I would feel bad if I got upset at some young folks having fun. Sure, they're drinking, but they're parked and not only are they not driving around drunk, they won't be driving early in the morning when I hit the road. I'll likely be a hundred miles away before they even wake up.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:17 PM   #17
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Camping is different things to different people. I will say that I've done a fair amount of "camping" that's really just "let's party outside for a few days." When you're in a group where that's the focus, getting people to quiet down can be challenge. Ultimately it comes down to the campground. Some places accept that kind of behavior, and some places crack down. If there's a drunk, rowdy group, and the campground personnel are not stepping in, then there's probably not much to be done.

One problem with touring is that you're always passing through. Locally I can figure out which campgrounds tend to be quiet and which tend to loud, but when touring, you find out when you try to sleep, and you may never pass that way again.

When I'm bike camping, I try to camp as far from anyone else as possible and always have ear plugs. I figure if people around me have come to the campground to party, I'm probably not going to be able to change their minds. I suffer through it and try to remember which are the good places in case I pass that way again.
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Old 01-25-16, 03:38 AM   #18
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Camping etiquette

What bothers me at campsites more than noisy people is often the lighting. I sleep outside my tent unless it's raining (star gazer), but the ultra powerful lamps which flood the whole of many campsites is making this less and less enjoyable. I wild/ninja camp mostly, but love a hot shower :/
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Old 01-25-16, 03:42 AM   #19
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90% of the time camping I sleep with earplugs, very nice, deep sleep
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Old 01-25-16, 05:23 AM   #20
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I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. A few years ago, I started camping to have some quiet and solitude in nature and to see the stars at night. Was I ever mistaken! I usually stay at state parks and county parks. Quiet hours are ignored; and there isn't enough budget to have staffing (either volunteer hosts or park rangers) at night. It's typically a rowdy night, people acting as if they are in their own backyard. And yes, too many folks light up the night with those ultra-bright lanterns.

This year, I have the luxury of being able to go bike touring / camping during the week, so I'll see if it's different. I'm hoping so!
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Old 01-25-16, 06:10 AM   #21
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I would have done close to what you did:
- Up to certain point, I would just ignore it and hope it quieted down.
- At some point after that, I'd go over and politely ask to tone it down.
- I might find management if I could find them that evening
- If I was annoyed enough, I might find a Yelp type review and at least post a negative review particularly about very close together sites

Fortunately, it is very rare I need to go far down the list. I do a fair amount of quick overnight trips in TX state parks, including last three weekends in a row and while not completely quiet, it really isn't a big deal the noise I find in the evening and I sleep soundly enough to not be bothered by most.
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Old 01-25-16, 06:38 AM   #22
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My worst experience was also in NJ but at a car-accessible state park. Campers near us apparently didn't have warm enough sleeping bags so they were trying to stay warm by keeping a fire going all night. But they didn't have enough chopped wood so every hour or so we'd hear them start up their chain saw. The next morning we discovered that they had cut down some live trees in the campground. Last we saw of them was when they and all of their gear were escorted out of the park by a number of park rangers to the cheers of the other campground guests.
Which NJ state park was that?
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Old 01-25-16, 09:35 AM   #23
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Which NJ state park was that?
The state park CGs in the Pine Barrens seem to attract more than their share of yahoos that are there to do nothing but party. Even the canoe-in only sites can have this issue, unfortunately, as noted above.
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Old 01-25-16, 11:49 AM   #24
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Stealth camping does have some upsides. Some parks in New England have a no booze policy. Just crickets is all you will hear after 8 pm. And most places I have stayed in New England have a quiet hour as well as a campfire out hour. And try for the ( cheaper) tent only areas, no RV's or electricity helps.
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Old 01-25-16, 12:41 PM   #25
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Stealth camping does have some upsides. Some parks in New England have a no booze policy. Just crickets is all you will hear after 8 pm. And most places I have stayed in New England have a quiet hour as well as a campfire out hour. And try for the ( cheaper) tent only areas, no RV's or electricity helps.
I agree that finding the primitive sites can often lead to less noise. One campground I stayed at was a little noisy because the RV next to me had their TV up too loud! All state parks I've stayed at have a no booze policy. It really affects nothing without enforcement. I think of it as a ready-made excuse to kick out any trouble makers, but I've never seen someone kicked out of a state park for booze in my area. But having the policy does make some people behave more discretely.

Couple of years ago my friend and I biked out to a state park where the campsites where accessible by a long (well it seemed long anyway, carrying a couple of panniers) hiking (no-bikes) path or by the river. When we set up camp, it was quiet, remote, and we were the only campers at any of the four available sites. Then a couple of boats floated in and the party started, and kept going into the night. Earplugs made it work out okay. I don't know if there would have even been a reasonable way to alert the park staff. No cell reception and a dark hike back to the check-in building made it easier to sit it out anyway. And once you blocked out the noise, it wasn't that big of a deal.
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