Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Are Camping


The inspiration for this list was surveying the damage after the Memorial Day weekend. Several campsites (Documented here) were either blown or washed away. Such a situation caused the development of a list that might save others from a similar fate.

Top Ten Things Not to Do While Camping

10 If you are camping, do not arrive in the dark to set up. If you do, at best you might accidentally choose a high dry spot. At worst, your camp was pitched in a low spot that the forest animals routinely use as a freeway. (Nothing like having a family of Coyotes in your sleeping bag huh, Bradley?)

9 If you are camping, do not go to the site without having tested new equipment. If you do, at best your stove has no fuel and its try to cook over a fire time. At worst, your water purifier kit is missing a part, and now you have nothing to drink but Bud Light. (Okay so maybe you don’t mind, Buford but the family looks like they are in the beginning stage of dehydration.)

8 If you are camping, do not think you will be immune to insect bites and not take repellent. If you do, at best you’ll have to hope the mud stops the itching. At worst, you might be the only member of the team to come down with malaria. (Who knew that the only Anopheles mosquito in North America had a crush on you, Leroy?)

7 If you are camping, do not take the weather reports lightly. If you do, at best you have not planned activities that can be done in inclement weather. At worst, you may experience what it is like to be cold, wet, and hungry for several days. (You could have done the same thing in your backyard right, Doofis?)

6 If you are camping, do not think you will be able to buy more food at the campsite.  If you do, at best your trip will end early. At worst, your attempts to borrow food from other campers will be met with the same welcome extended to bears. (You also learned a lesson about challenging a bear at the dumpster huh, Bunky?)

5 If you are camping, do not think your fellow campers welcome your loud morning wake-up music. If you do, at best the park management will help you pack. At worst, Tiny the WWF champ having been advised by his anger management counselor to go camping for the peace and quiet is now heading toward your site with a good morning greeting of his own. (It won’t help to ask Tiny to put you down. He’ll be thinking of a body slam, Tex.)

4 If you are camping, do not forget the first aid kit. If you do, at best the rule of camping that says, “someone will get hurt” might pass you by. At worst, in one day your group will have two sprained ankles, a dislocated shoulder, a fish hook in the eyebrow, and poison ivy. (Funny thing is all these things happened to you, Burt and it wasn’t even noon on the first day yet.)

3 If you are camping, do not count on a hot shower. If you do, at best you’ll have to use a cold lake. At worst, you are now attracting wild things from the forest and are being asked to sleep outside the tent. (Your stubbornness regarding hot water is not paying off is it, Buster?)

2 If you are camping, do not arrive at the campsite without a reservation. If you do, at best a standby spot will open up. At worst you, the family, and the dog will be sharing the backseat of your Toyota Corolla. (At least you all have learned what makes each of your really mad right, Putz?)

1 If you are camping, do not think you can recreate the luxury and convenience of your home. If you do, at best you will come up short. At worst, the lack of electricity and air conditioning will finally push you over the edge. (Might as well admit camping is not for you, Ferd.)


  1. I know camping is not for me, John. If Tiny comes your way that’s another reason to have a first aid kit along. However, flattening may not be helped with first aid. Great post. 🙂 — Suzanne

    1. LOL, Suzanne. I had a picture in my mind of someone rolling Tiny’s victim up for transport. Thank you. 😀

  2. Phew – I’m clear on 1 and 5. Guilty of the rest, though, at one time or another!
    I remember turning up at a camping field in an orchard, after dark, a night before anyone else. We had a brand new trailer tent that we couldn’t erect at home due to lack of land. We did, though, get the instruction booklet out and study it a week or so before the first trip. It might have helped if we’d taken the booklet with us, though, rather than leaving it on the shelf in the front room. A night we won’t soon forget.
    Great list, John.

    1. Ha ha ha. That must have been a night that should have been caught on film. Could be used in a course on “how a marriage can survive conflict.” So who left the booklet?

      1. Modesty prevents me from saying.
        I didn’t mention that we had our two teenagers with us, each with their own pup tent. The younger one put hers up in double-quick time ad was soon in and settled. The lad, we found sitting in the car. When questioned, he said, “It’s alright for you; there’s two of you and only one of me.” We pressed the issue (rather forcefully, as I recall – we weren’t in the best of humours), and he slowly and reluctantly put up his tent, constantly muttering, “I never wanted to go f***ing camping in the first place.”
        Ah! Happy days.

      2. Ha ha ha. 😀

  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    Your list brought back memories, John. I grew up in a family that spent every summer camping (what else can you do with 7 kids?). I loved the adventure and the wilds…but now, I’d rather “camp” in a cabin or lodge. 🙂

    1. I agree. I did a lot of camping as a kid but not so much as an adult. (I have to rule out the few overnights in the backyard as a result of too much fun.) Thanks, Gwen. 😀

  4. I’ve only gone camping twice. The first time, as a child, I had the mumps and gargled salt water by the campfire. The second time, in my twenties, the tent was infested with daddy-long legs. These days, I stick with nice hotels. 🙂

  5. Never been camping, but I do know #8 would be a must for me. Something about me and my son is like catnip for mosquitoes. Do people actually expect a hot shower? I know this kind of happens with cabin-ing. I’m just imagining someone searching the woods for one of those naturally grown bathtubs. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one that’s already grown its curtain.

    1. Modern campgrounds have showers and most everything else. (so I’ve heard) Thanks, Charles.

      1. Guess that’s one way of roughing it. Though, I can’t go very far from a Wifi signal without feeling twitchy, so who am I to talk?

      2. I’m with you. I also have a personal hotspot I’m so itchy.

      3. I think my phone does that. Haven’t tried it in a while because I was always told it makes my phone unprotected. Funny how we have all of these ways to connect, but everyone is scared of being intruded on. Downside to social media there.

      4. I only use the hotspot in emergencies.

      5. Smart move. I have a portable Wifi thing too, which I can always use in a pinch.

  6. What a great list! And it’s all true! I love camping but here in Florida, there’s too many biting insects and pop-up storms. You can never have enough Deet and you better hope a river doesn’t form in your campsite 😉

    1. Ha ha ha. I can imagine keeping an eye out for a stray alligator too. Thanks Marie. MWAH!

      1. Oh, my goodness, you’re right. We’ve definitely come across them on land 😬

      2. Ha ha ha. Watch your feet.

  7. I have either seen, heard about or committed all of these, John, and I only actively camped during the first marriage. You left one out. – Don’t tell your spouse about the luxury hotel 5 miles up the road in an effort to show off how smart you are to save money by camping.

    1. Ha ha ha. The last time I went camping was in Boy Scouts. For whatever reason the idea never caught traction in my adult years. (I think the lure of the hotel was the driving force.) Thanks, Dan. 🙂

  8. I’ve never been camping, but my son just spent some time outdoors for his geology major. Bought the cheapest sleeping bag he saw and didn’t check the weather before going – as a result, he spent a couple of nights in a youth-sized sleeping bag in 25 degree weather. It pays to read labels and plan ahead.

    1. Poor thing. That would make for a very miserable two nights for sure. Thanks, Teri.

  9. Very amusing, John. My husband and I agree that we only “camp” at hotels but I can imagine these scenarios.

    1. I’m with you. Thanks, Robbie.

  10. These are all funny, and yet oh so true. 🙂 Another great one, John.

    1. Thank you, Jan. 😀

  11. I’m with Robbie – my idea of roughing it is a 4-star hotel. Your list is hilarious, John – and it is so true!

    1. My wife believes roughing it is a place without room service and a spa.

      1. I love that, John. She and my wife have that in common – in spades!

  12. So funny, John! I feel no shame in saying my camping days are long gone. 🙂 But I do have fond memories and a few “I can’t believe I did that” moments. Cheers!

    1. I’m with you. Thanks, Natalie.

  13. Good morning, John,
    as to #10 [setting up tent at night]: you might also accidentally end up on a fire-ant mound.
    And let me contrribute an experience of my youth, when I did a bike tour of southern Germany [with a scouts-like group]. One nicht, we put our tents up “wild”, i.e. without asking anybody if we were allowed to. Well, it was on public property. So, actually no problem there. But we put our tents up at the edge of a forest, just under the trees. And then, sometme at duck, a forester came and expleined to us that he had intended to shoot deer or other animals in that wood! Luckily he saw us first!
    Have a wonderful day,

    1. Luck one there , Pit. I like the fire ant comment

  14. Ha! I’m with poor Ferd — camping just isn’t for me. I much prefer the safety and creature comforts of my own home! This is a great list, though, and reinforces my stance.

    1. Me too, Debbie. Thanks. 🙂

  15. I love numbers 4 and 5. The mental images they inspired still have me chuckling.
    I do believe my camping days are long over, but some of these brought back memories 🙂

    1. My days are definitely over. At my age I resemble the ground too much to get close to it. 😀

      1. LOL! I love your sense of humor 😀

      2. Aw. Thanks. I try. 😀

  16. I’m going this weekend. You write these like an experienced veteran.

    1. I have done my share of camping. Mostly wilderness stuff. Me and my knife (and water kit, matches, Hershey bars, and compass.)

      1. I’ve done a little of all kinds. These days I prefer my camper to all the ground, with or without a tent.

  17. These should be posted on camp ground websites! I am not a camper although I love getting out with nature, but at the end of the day I want a hotel with room service! Good one, John!

    1. I’m with you. Maybe I’m too old to sleep on the ground. I might never get up. 😀

  18. I’ve failed on nine of the ten camping commandments, Sheriff. Ironically, number 5 was the one I was able to abide. Tiny would be proud, I’m guessing. By proud, I mean he wouldn’t tear my arms off.

    1. Yes letting you keep your arms would be a sign of respect. 😀

  19. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here’s another great top 10 list from John Howell’s blog

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