12 Ways To Make Friends At The Campground

It’s summer. Which means it’s camping season. Which means you’ve got a great opportunity to get into nature and meet new friends at a campground somewhere. Here are a few tips to fast-track your way to instant friendship:

1. Arm your car alarm just in case someone tries to break into it or steal it while you’re sleeping next to it. Or in case some animal accidentally bumps it, or a gust of wind buffets it exactly right, or something else that’s not a car thief causes it to go off at 3 in the morning.

2. Grab a beer and head over to the neighboring campsite to chat with your new friends over there about politics. If they don’t want to talk about politics, try changing the subject to religion. If they don’t want to talk about politics or religion, try to find something else to disagree with them about.

3. If your dog is very vocal, territorial, or nervous, and likes to bark throughout the night for those or other reasons, bring him or her along. If you don’t have a dog, just bark on your own between midnight and 5 a.m.—most people can’t tell the difference between a dog bark and a human bark that early in the morning.

4. If you leave your campsite to go hiking, fishing, or exploring during the day, leave some snacks out on a
picnic table for our animal friends. Squirrels and birds love to chew through wrappers and bags, so snack mix, potato chips, or crackers are always a good choice. If you’re in an area where bears are known to congregate, a plate of salmon or other fish is always a nice gesture. Try placing the fish on the dashboard of your car and leaving a window cracked for the bears.

5. Arrive at the campground at 11 p.m. or later. Take a couple laps around the campground searching for the perfect remaining campsite. Use your high-beam headlights to most effectively inspect the campsites from your moving car.

6. After you’ve found the perfect campsite, set up your stuff, start a campfire, and start drinking with your friends. Sit far enough away from each other that you have to project your voice.

7. Enjoy your campfire and conversation until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.

8. As you set up your campsite after 11 p.m., make sure to open and close your car doors every time you get another item out of your car. Make sure you slam the door shut—you want to be sure it’s closed.

9. Don’t be afraid to use your gas-powered generator between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. if you need to. If it’s too loud for you to sleep, bring a long extension cord so you can put it a ways from your RV.

10. Play some music on a stereo. You like your music, so everyone else probably will, too.

11. Take some wet wood to burn in your campfire, to maximize smoke coverage of the entire campground.

12. Help yourself to your neighbor’s cooler of beer, preferably in the middle of your conversation/diatribe about politics or religion. Tell them you will pay them back, even if you have no beer at your campsite.


More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.

Tags from the story
, ,
28 replies on “12 Ways To Make Friends At The Campground”
  1. says: doug moore

    Oh, and don’t forget: If there’s a water spigot in a central location at the campsite, make sure to bring over your dirty dishes & some detergent. Everyone will appreciate your shiny pots and pans at the single source of drinking water.

    1. says: L Smith

      Also taking off from #7…After your conversation ends at 2-3am, head off to the bathroom and stumble thru there campsite and hit the guy lines to their tent that you can’t see in the dark to wake them and make them think a very large animal is outside their tent.

  2. says: Andrew

    Amazing post, especially the plate of salmon. Another one from my past weekend up in Baxter State Park in ME:

    When making an alpine start from the campsite, make sure you don’t look where you’re going to increase the chances of running your car into a ditch filled with rocks. When one day you inevitably do crush the bottom of your car against a giant boulder, swear loudly and grunt as you dig it out at 6:00 AM. Everyone will want to help you.

  3. A good way to get those fresh branches to burn that you just sawed off the tree in your camp ground, is to place them in a rubber tire and douse it all with gasoline.

    Yup saw, smelled and tasted that one.

    1. says: Matt S.

      I was wondering the same thing, and it looks like he’s going to be at the 5 Points Film Festival, Oct. 6-8 in Asheville, N.C. as part of his book tour. I’m going!

  4. says: Matt

    Very funny! But sadly I have experienced nearly everyone of the “tips”. Because of this I rarely venture into the woods during the summer months. Instead I go out in the early spring or fall/early winter. Much more peaceful.

  5. says: Kam

    A guitar/ukulele player who only knows how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow comes standard with 2am campfire chats. I want to be that guy’s friend.

  6. says: harry

    Now try camping in New England, where all the camp sites are 20 feet apart.
    If I’m honest, we have few problems with other campers; it’s the party house across the lake blaring music until all hours that keeps us up.

    1. says: scoTt

      Or try camping in Europe where all the camp sites are 20 inches apart… The music will be from the discotheque located conveniently on the campground (right next to the pool)

  7. says: Alex

    Unfortunately, I am guilty of coming to the Yellowstone campground after 2 AM, first driving around the campground looking for our spot, and then trying to figure out rental car doors (this car was beeping us that we didn’t leave the keys inside). Also we were setting up a tent with grunts and curses (it was the first time setting up this tent after purchase).

    I felt really sorry for my neighbors.

  8. says: Mage

    If you bring your nervous dog, don’t forget to tie it to a tree at your campsite and then everyone walk off to enjoy the lake a few hours. The dog will occupy itself by crying, whining, howling, pacing, and barking the WHOLE TIME! By the time you get back, he’ll be tired out and ready for bed. Trouble free camping with Rover.

  9. says: Chris

    If you have an outdoor patio light on your RV, leave it on all night to discourage prowlers.

  10. says: Kristen

    Oh man. I laugh — but that #2 is so real. I definitely had that happen to me once, but at least he brought some drinks to share!

  11. says: GnarlyDog

    Campsites (vehicle access ones, and I guess those are the ONLY ones in US and A) are the perfect venue for anger management therapy.
    But since I did really badly there I decided to head for the hills, literally.
    I no longer associate the word camping and vehicle (especially anything that one can sleep in) together in the same sentence.
    But yes, if you wan to witness ‘merica at its best do drive to a campsite, on 4th of July 🙂

  12. says: Juliann

    Make sure you pick the site right next to the only site that is occupied from the whole row of empty sites at 12:30 am. Completely set up your trailer as if you are going to be there for a month so that the site occupied with a tent hears every step.

  13. says: John

    1) Be sure to walk through rather than around campsites to get to the bathroom
    2) Make sure your babies are quiet during the day so they can scream between 2am and 5 am when they’ll go back to sleep
    3) Ignore the no bike signs on the single track trailhead and be sure to ride only from 10am to 5pm when there is plenty of foot traffic
    4) Don’t puke at your campsite, be sure to do it either at the water spout where people get their drinking water or better yet, the campsite next to yours
    5) Try to break the world’s record for highest pile of empty beer cans on your table
    6) Be sure to drop plenty of f bombs every time a child between the ages of 2 and 9 walk by
    7) Wear your muddy hiking shoes into the shower, its fine
    8) After you take a dump, remember to take all the toilet paper too
    9) Leave those dirty diapers on the ground, someone will pick them up, eventually
    10) Play hackeysack where one person is on one side of the trail and the other is on the opposite side of the trail so people actually using the trail have to dodge your hackey sack

  14. says: Suzanne

    Me, I love a good whistler. Especially the out-of-tune ones. I love the challenge of “name that tune” forced through clenched teeth as you go about setting your tent up beneath my bedroom window.

Comments are closed.