Be A Good Neighbor

Imagine the sounds of a peaceful lake in the mountains on a summer morning–the birds chirping, fish jumping out of the water for a bite to eat and splashing back in, and the spinning of a reel as you cast off to pull in the first catch of the day.

Is your camp a good waterfront neighbor? Photo courtesy of Brenda Moreau

This is one form of summertime bliss heard in the wooded playground of the camp’s surroundings.

For you, the more familiar sound is of children laughing, playing, and building skills at the camp’s waterfront. For your lakeside neighbors, though, it might be a delicate balance, bringing mixed emotions about sharing the water with your program.

A staple of camping for more than 100 years, waterfront programming is often the image conjured up when one reflects on camp. While fishing, boating, and swimming are basic tenets of camp, so is having neighbors.

If your camp hosts aquatic activities in fresh water, you have probably been faced with questions of how to effectively manage a waterfront program while respecting the shared use of the lake.

Clear And Friendly Signage

Take some time to walk down to the waterfront, get into a rowboat, and survey the area, including the path or roadway, water-access points, docks, and structures.

By having a secure entrance with signage (an ACA requirement), you are notifying the public that the waterfront is private property and only for use by campers and staff. Make the signage clear, but consider making it friendly, as well, by posting your website and contact information.

The couple who wants to use your waterfront for the backdrop of their holiday card could become a donor or future camper family, so take advantage of the opportunity.

Best Foot Forward

Be sure that the area you use on the water gels with the typical fishing spots of others. Also, consider the appearance of storage sheds, boathouses, and docks. Are they safe? Do they need a new coat of paint? The first impression of your camp does not always come from the road.

What camp staff hears as joy can just seem loud to others who live along the lake shore. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / mandygodbehear

Do your best to keep the appearance of the camp attractive without infringing on others’ property or obstructing anyone’s views.

Successful Scheduling

Next, take a look at your camp schedule. Are there times you use the waterfront for “non-traditional” programming (e.g., sandcastle-building contests, end-of-session closing ceremonies, perhaps a drive-in movie viewed from a paddle boat)? If so, chances are you have neighbors who either:


  1. Appreciate those activities and view them from their docks or rental cabins
  2. Do not enjoy them as the cheering from the waterfront has interrupted their evening cocktail and campfire
  3. Are a combination of the two views.

However, don’t immediately delete those activities from the schedule. Instead, pass along that schedule with a brief explanation as to why you and 200 of your friends are singing in the darkness once a week.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Just Add Water
  2. Waterfront Safety And Preparation
  3. Wading Through Possibilities
  4. Buddy Up!
  5. Alternative Adventures
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers