When you pull into your campsite, chances are you’ll immediately size up your new neighbors. After all, they could play a significant role in the overall success of your camping trip. It’s an excellent opportunity to make new friends with like-minded people and get ideas to make the most of your trip.
In the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, Campspot discovered how much connection means to outdoor enthusiasts. In a survey of more than 1,200 campers, nearly 60% reported that they seek out connection with others during their camping experiences. Campers crave companionship, whether it be a crew to share a beverage with during a relaxing night by the campfire or a new group of people to explore with on a thrilling adventure.
To help you make the most of your camping experiences and connect with more campers, I’ve created a list of fool-proof methods. Get ready to spark a conversation and make an effortless connection at any campsite in the country. Shall we?
1. Find Common Ground
Sleeping in a field of RV trailers and colorful tents full of strangers can feel impersonal. A campground can be incredibly isolating if you don’t know your neighbors!
Take some time to look for clues about what you and your neighbor share in common. License plates and bumper stickers might hint that you’re both from the same state or have visited the same places, and T-shirts might expose that they’re rooting for the same sports team or for a rival.
Whatever the commonality, use what you learn as an initial conversation starter. From there, you might be surprised to find you have more in common than you thought.
If you still can’t find anything to connect your story with that of your neighbors, remember that you’re quite literally standing on common ground, and you’re all out simultaneously enjoying the campground. You can ask others if a specific nearby attraction is worth the visit or if they have any great recommendations for trails in the area.
2. Ask Questions About Outdoor Gear
A campsite isn’t just a place to sleep at night. For many, it’s a home away from home or a base camp for nearby excursions.
That means campgrounds are usually overflowing with toys for people of all ages. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest outdoor gear or even to learn more about a sport you’ve always wanted to try.
According to the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, 20% of campers are interested in trying kayaking but have never been. If there is an activity you’re curious about, your neighbors may be more than willing to share everything they know about their hobby.
For example, if your campsite has amenities like kayaks, canoes, or paddle board rentals, you might join your neighbors out on the water for a tutorial and to learn a few tips. The people who have invested serious money into their hobbies are usually quite passionate and want to help others fall in love with the sport in the same way they have. Whatever activity you might be interested in, if you spot a fellow camper participating in it, be sure to speak up and ask questions.
3. Bring Extra Food to Share
Food can be used as a universal secret weapon when looking to make new friends. Everybody eats, and there’s nothing like the taste of a treat cooked to perfection over an open flame.
According to the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, burgers on the grill are the top food for camping. More than 90% of survey respondents said they enjoyed a camp hamburger, followed by hotdogs and s’mores.
Get your fire going and set up the full spread on the picnic table, and you’ll likely have a few people gazing longingly. Even if you’re not comfortable sharing utensils or treats for health reasons, every camper knows there’s a unique art to getting the perfect campfire going. Invite your neighbors over to roast some marshmallows, and you’ll get some time to chat about where you’re from, going, and what you plan to do on this trip.
If you’re looking for a slightly different way to wow your neighbors, here are a few recipes you might try:
4. Create a Cozy “Glamping” Atmosphere
There’s camping, and then there’s “glamping,” a form of recreating that goes well beyond the typical sleeping bag and tent. This upscale form of spending time in the great outdoors means you get all the comforts of home while enjoying the beauty and relaxation of spending time in some of the most amazing parts of the country.
While glamping isn’t for everyone, it’s guaranteed to turn some heads. The more welcoming you make your campsite, the more likely you’ll have a few neighbors swinging by just to check out your setup. If you’re open to fellow campers sitting down and staying a while, setting up a field of outdoor games like giant Jenga, corn hole, and other yard games will do the trick. Turn on a major sports game on an outdoor TV, and you’re sure to attract neighbors to your space.
Even if you don’t want to pay for an expensive glamping setup, simply spending time outside your camper or tent will leave you open to conversations from passersby.
5. Attend Campground Activities
When you first sign in or register at the front office, look for event flyers or ask if there is any special programming.
Some campgrounds host group activities such as game nights, movie nights, or exercise classes to keep their campers entertained. Even if there aren’t organized social events, shared spaces such as a pool, patio, or playground may be the perfect setting to establish new connections.
Spending time in these places makes it more likely you’ll connect with fellow campers. Kids will find new friends in the playgrounds, and four-legged friends might find a new buddy in the dog park.
6. Follow Campground Etiquette
The most effective way to connect with others while camping is to respect the people camping around you. Follow the rules at your campground.
If you have a pet notorious for barking through the night, don’t take them camping. Don’t play loud music or turn on a noisy generator after quiet hours. Don’t trample through an occupied campsite for a shortcut to the bathroom facilities. Ensure your food is secured and put away, so it doesn’t end up attracting animals to the area. No matter how well you vibe with your neighbors, it’s doubtful they’ll want to spend time with someone who doesn’t respect them or their campground experience.
Making friends with strangers can be tricky, but the beauty of when you connect with your neighbors while camping at is that you’re already surrounded by people who share a common passion for the great outdoors. You’re all there to enjoy nature’s beauty, calm, and relaxation.
Nikki Davidson is an avid explorer and travel journalist. She has completed several cross-country road trips in her RV and lives on the Oregon Coast with her active-duty Coast Guard husband. You can follow her adventures on facebook.