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.