Many of our in-park Halloween events feature campsite decorating contests.
But certain decorations can be harmful to the environment.
Here’s how you can create a super spooky campsite AND protect Ontario’s ecological integrity at the same time.
1. Leave no trace
We know — this one’s pretty basic. But you’d be surprised how many campers leave behind twist ties, strands of cobweb, streamers, broken balloons and other small pieces of decorating debris.
When the haunting hour ends and you’re ready to head for home, do a thorough sweep of your campsite to ensure you’re leaving it as clean (or cleaner!) than you found it.
2. Avoid decorations that are hard to clean up
Here are a few of our least favourites:
- Fake cobwebs: be especially wary of these. The thin strands tend to cling to everything, making them extremely tough to thoroughly clean up
- The little black twist ties that attach your decorations: tough to see, easy to forget and hard on the environment
- Confetti, glitter or hay/straw: it’s almost impossible to ensure you’ve cleaned up every piece
- Balloons: one of our naturalists gives the inside scoop on why balloons are particularly hard on park ecology
Remember: anything left behind on your campsite is considered litter (which is a fine-able offence).
3. Decorate with recyclable materials
Instead of buying a new set of decorations from the store, why not create your spooky masterpiece from the contents of your recycling bin? The annual creativity of our campers amazes us!
It also makes it easy to tidy up after — just sort your decorations into the appropriate bin at the park.
If you do decide to buy a few store-bought highlights, be sure to pick items that will last several seasons.
4. Decorate with reusable materials
Decorating your campsite using reusable materials can be a great family activity, promoting creativity and environmental awareness.
Good items might include: rope, tarps, flashlights, clothing, and other camping gear.
And why not make every aspect of your Halloween-in-the-park reusable? Rather than buy a plastic basket, use a pillowcase or tent bag for trick-or-treating.
5. Respect nature’s inherent spookiness
We’ve all been creeped out by the rustling of darkened bushes, the screech of an owl, or the scritch of branches on the roof of our RV.
Nature’s pretty spooky all on its own. So when you’re putting up decorations, be respectful of the natural environment.
Don’t hammer nails into tree trunks, bend or break branches to hang lights, or rearrange the logs and boulders on your campsite.
If it leaves a permanent sign or disturbs the natural environment, it’s not a good option.
6. Don’t use wildlife attractants
Keep the candy locked away until the “witching hour,” or you might find yourself accidentally sharing with a hungry critter.
Avoid using any scented decorations, essentially anything that wildlife might mistake for food (we don’t want to encourage creature habituation).
If you’re using liquids like fake blood to decorate, peek at the ingredient list (ideally, find one that’s not high in sugar).
Fall is when bears are putting on their winter weight. Remember to keep your campsite bear-wise and lock away anything they might enjoy when you leave the campsite.
7. Don’t leave the lights on
Stringing up some spooky lights?
Don’t forget: our wildlife relies on the darkness. When your ghostly revels end, turn out all lights before heading to bed.
8. Take your jack-o-lantern home
Or put them in park’s compost (if available). Remember: even though it’s organic, your pumpkin is still litter.
Old pumpkins are wildlife attractants (the last thing we want is a hungry bear getting a taste for pumpkin!).
9. Check the rules
Every ecosystem in every park is a little different.
If you’re planning to decorate, why not ask staff for some pointers/guidelines when you check in?
They’ll have insider tips about the do’s and don’ts of campsite decor.