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There you are, with your family, sitting around the campfire in the evening. You are enjoying zoning out by staring at the flickering flames, your spouse has chosen to read a little bit in the fading sunlight, and the kids are playing a card game at the picnic table. Life is grand! And then, from a couple of sites away, you hear others laughing and enjoying themselves. But, wait, what was that? What did he say? What did she yell?
“Colorful” words would continue on into the night, and they seemed to get louder and more frequent as it appeared that alcohol was consumed. What do you do about this? Maybe you don’t think it’s an issue, but what if your camping neighbors do think its an issue? Have you ever been approached by another camper over your use of curse words? Have you ever addressed curse words with another camper?
I personally fall on the side of trying not to use swear words, especially loudly, while camping. While you my fall on the other side, I think there is good advice for everyone. Let’s dive in and face this head-on.
Users Of Swear Words
Let me start right off with this: I am not putting you down if you use swear words when you talk. That’s not the point of this. I think everyone at some point has used a curse word now and then. Some do it more than others, and that’s fine.
What this really comes down to is consideration for your camping neighbors. We all are guilty of having a self-centered attitude (me more than average, I think), and many times this is a good thing. Looking out for numero uno helps us to make decisions, to get ahead, and to not get into things that we feel uncomfortable with. So don’t think that this is a bad thing to have a self-centered approach from time to time, because it is not.
Instead, consider others around you when you are camping. Typically you don’t sprawl out your camping gear into other sites, right? You keep your stuff in your space, which is courteous and allows you to keep tabs on things so they don’t walk off. You also typically don’t invade other sites and intrude on others good times, as that’s just rude and you wouldn’t want someone to do that to you. The same approach applies to our use of language. Let’s face it, the outdoors is not a place where you can close yourself off from others when camping, as there are usually many other campers around you. If you really wanted solitude, you could camp in remote areas if that’s what you desire. But most of us just want to get out into nature and enjoy it. We also enjoy seeing others enjoy the outdoors as well, and we have this unwritten rule that unless you are in need of something, we want to be left alone with our own group. This includes hearing a lot of loud shouting and foul language.
Now, to be fair, life is not always a bed of roses. Sometimes we get angry or upset about something. Sometimes when that happens we say things that we end up regretting. That’s understandable, and it happens sometimes even when camping where things are supposed to go right. I think we all can forgive someone in this situation. When it becomes a problem is when the language used is more commonplace, and especially when it is used with a louder voice. Consider your camping neighbors who have young children. They may not want them to hear adults using words like that. We all want to have our children maintain their innocence as long as possible, because when its gone, its gone. Also, perhaps there are adults who wish to not hear that sort of language, and this can be for any number of reasons. Again, this all comes down to consideration for your camping neighbors.
If you find yourself using colorful language while you camp, consider trying to tone it down a bit in consideration of your neighbors. This might not be that easy, but it will be appreciated.
Hearers of Swear Words
I fall on the end of the language spectrum that trys not to use swear words very much, though some days are better than others. When camping, I try to use that time to relax, which helps in not using swear words as much, partly because I’m taking a nap and not talking! But I will occasionally hear one of my camping neighbors using an expletive. As a hearer of these words, I try to make sense of its use by looking at the context, and I think this is important for us on the receiving end of this language.
As I mentioned previously, sometimes life just doesn’t want to go right for us on a given day (or week). We get upset and let a few fly. Context would probably tell us as the hearers that this person isn’t having a good day for whatever reason. In that case, I would probably have sympathy for them and hope for a better rest of the day. Sometimes it might be an argument they are having, and I would again hope that it gets resolved quickly for all involved (including the neighbors having to hear said argument).
Where I start shaking my head is when I hear people just using swear words indiscriminately and as part of their everyday word choice. They use them like they were just like any other word, a descriptor of the word coming right after it. Its not said in anger or because they were upset, its just part of their vocabulary. This is where I would prefer not to hear so much profanity used, because it really doesn’t have much use, and what is said could be said just as effectively without the use of profanity.
So what can you do as a hearer of these words? Well, in many cases, the answer is “not much”. If it was in anger or someone having a bad day, I would just brush it off and let it go. We’ve all been there, so a little grace is appropriate, as that is what we would want if the situation was reversed. In the case of profanity being ingrained in their vocabulary, I do have a suggestion if it really bothers you. You could always ask the party to try to curb their use of profanity.
Now I know this is a tall order for some (maybe most) people. Its a bit of a confrontation, and most people aren’t fond of confrontations. But, often times, they just aren’t aware of how much they use swear words, or they were not even considering their neighbors. Especially if you have a good reason why you would like to have them tone down the swear words, most people will listen and try to be good neighbors. Now they might have an attitude about it, and its best to walk away and let them be. Additionally, if you’ve asked them nicely and they have agreed, but nothing really has changed, again its best to let it be. You’ve asked them once, no need to make a bigger deal out of it. If it really bothers you, perhaps it is worth it to switch campsites if others are available further away from them.
This is a delicate subject, and one that I’ve tried to address as rationally and pragmatically as possible. If you are a hearer of these words and you would prefer not to hear them, you can try to ask your camping neighbors to tone it down, but there is no guarantee that they will. If you are a user of these words, try to be considerate of your neighbors, and if someone does ask you to refrain from using swear words, please try your best to accommodate the request. Once you get back home, you are free to use whatever words you please. We all are guilty of using swear words at some point in our past, and the goal is to ultimately enjoy the outdoors together. A little understanding and grace amongst all of us tent campers will go a long way towards this enjoyment.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever been asked to “tone it down” on the swearing? Have you been the one to ask it? Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!
Featured Image photo courtesy Clker-Free-Vector-Images , 4/4/2014. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/clker-free-vector-images-3736/