Camp California

Camp-California.com will be handing out stickers like this to campers as a way to remind them of safe camping habits.

Record numbers of first-time campers are hitting the great outdoors this year and the huge influx of people unfamiliar with camping etiquette has prompted Camp-California.com to develop six “outdoor principles” to ensure that everyone has safe and enjoyable trips into nature, whether it’s a day hike or a multi-day camping trip.

“Campground operators are thrilled with the influx of new campers and RVers, but we need everyone to protect themselves and the environment when they’re enjoying nature,” said Dyana Kelley, president and CEO of Camp-California.com, the travel planning website for camping enthusiasts that is operated by the CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance.

With safe travel and protection of forests and other scenic places in mind, Camp-California.com has developed the following six principles or guidelines, which it plans to share with state, national and local parks as well as travel and tourism organizations throughout California:

Be Prepared and Have a Back-Up Plan: Planning ahead ensures that you have everything you need for your adventure and that you are aware of closures and restrictions in areas you’re planning on visiting. Make sure that your plans are the right fit for your skill level and interests, and always have backup plans if an area is too crowded or not the right fit for you.

Be Mindful of your Actions and Impact: Always be mindful of how your actions impact your environment and those around you. Be kind to people exploring the outdoors for the first time if you are an expert. Be kind and respectful towards staff in outdoor spaces — they are there to keep you safe and having fun! And, of course, show respect to the animals and plants around you by staying on trails to avoid trampling plants.

Take Only Photos, They Last Forever: Respecting and preserving our environments are an essential part of ensuring they stay around for all to enjoy. Maintaining a safe distance from animals, no matter how small, keeps them comfortable in their natural home and protects you from their self-defense tactics. Find a pretty flower, a cool rock or a funky piece of driftwood? Instead of removing it from the environment, take a picture of it to remember forever.

Clean Up After Yourself and Your Pet: Nothing ruins a beautiful hike or a swim in the lake like seeing trash and pet waste. If you bring something in, have a plan to bring it out. If an outdoor space does not have a place to dispose of waste, bring a small bag with you to collect your trash (and maybe even trash you find!) as you go. Please do not leave anything, even pet waste, on trails, campsites and day-use areas – even if you intend to pick it up later. Help those that come after you to have the same experience you did coming in! CampCalNOW

Practice Responsible Geotagging: Before social media, the great outdoors were only shared via word of mouth. Generic geotagging (like tagging an entire National Forest instead of the specific trail you took) keeps people from blindly following social media geotags that put them in situations beyond their experience and helps reduce traffic in sensitive areas. If a friend asks where the location of your latest social media post was, reach out to them individually with need-to-know information (e.g., parking, road or trail conditions, services and resources available, difficulty rating).

Save the Trees, Burn Responsibly: By purchasing your firewood locally, you can help protect the areas you are going to explore. Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk below the surface in firewood and these insects and diseases can’t move far on their own. But when people move firewood, they can quickly hitch a ride and jump hundreds of miles. We have more information on Firewood Safety on our website, Camp-California.com. Before building a fire, make sure you know how to build and extinguish one safely (if you don’t, we have a guide on our website!)

Kelley said these six principles will also be featured on Camp-California.com and in next year’s edition of Camp-California! The Campers’ Guide to California, which is available for free in printed and digital formats.

Camping enthusiasts are also encouraged to text OUTDOOR to 833-230-1450 to receive Camp-California.com‘s Outdoor Principles sticker pack.