British Columbia

How to follow camping etiquette this August long weekend

Joss Penny-Chair, chair of the B.C. Lodging and Campgrounds Coalition, shares some camping etiquette tips with host Shelley Joyce on CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops.

Picking up your trash, following quiet hours and adhering to fire bans are some of the golden rules

Respect fire bans, leave no trace of your stay, adhere to rules surrounding quiet hours and being neighbourly are some of the camping etiquette suggestions from B.C. Parks. (Ministry of Environment)

Thousands of British Columbians are expected to camp in provincial parks and private campsites over the long weekend.

With wildfires still raging and campers jostling for space, a level of decorum and some common sense can make everyone's getaway more pleasant.

Joss Penny-Chair, chair of the B.C. Camping and RVing Coalition, shared some camping etiquette tips with host Shelley Joyce on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

Respect fire bans

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the RCMP fined three campers last weekend after they were caught around a campfire near Vernon, B.C.

"There are unfortunately sometimes people that don't get the message," Penny-Chair said.

Watch for smoking signs in parks. ((CBC))

The B.C. Wildfire Service lists which campsites are under fire bans. If it's permitted, make sure to extinguish the fire afterwards. That means no smoking or smouldering coals.

Test the fire by placing a corner piece of tissue on it. If it doesn't ignite, you're safe.

Penny-Chair also cautions against discarded cigarettes.

A number of private campgrounds are tackling the issue by allowing smoke-friendly areas with dispensers.

Leave no trace

Penny-Chair recalled camping several years ago near a group that went to bed after getting into a food fight.

"At 3 a.m., they were shrieking like crazy, because a pack of raccoons had descended on them and attacked one of their dogs," he said.

"It was quite a funny event, but it's something that could have been prevented, because it was bad behaviour."

B.C. Parks encourages campers to "leave no trace."

Small measures like hiking on designated trails, pitching a tent on tent pads and using a backpacking stove, rather than an open fire, can reduce disruptions in some delicate ecosystems.

Two B.C. photographers estimated they carried out 40 pounds of garbage in June from a campsite near Joffre Lakes. (Vince Emond)

Adhere to quiet hours

Whether you like to fish at the crack of dawn or play cards late into the night, make sure to keep the noise levels down for your neighbours.

Most campsites post their quiet hours, which generally run between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Be neighbourly

If you're getting to the campsite early or late, turn down your high beams. Avoid cutting through your neighbours' campsite and inviting too many guests on your site. Voices can carry easily.

If your neighbours are a nuisance?

Penny-Chair says campers should avoid acting out against disruptive neighbours. Instead, collect evidence and report it to the campground staff or police.  

"Safety is number one," he said.

Don't book last minute

Campsites are often booked months in advance, and space is even tighter this year with the B.C. wildfires shutting down a number of campsites.

But there might still be hope, Penny-Chair said.

"You should definitely be looking at travelling four hours away from a major urban centre," he said. "You should also be checking the website for Discover Camping because often there are cancellations and they're listed there."

Try to camp on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in high-demand areas.

With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops