Each November you can start making reservations for island campsites on Lake George for the following summer. Even though there are 387 sites on 44 islands, the sites are VERY popular and they fill up VERY quickly.
It seems ironic to me that there is a such a competitive race to make these reservations, when the camping experience itself is nothing like racing, nothing like competitive. My husband, sons and I have thoroughly enjoyed many relaxing hours camping on Lake George’s islands, courtesy of my husband’s cousin, who has the boat, and makes the reservations. (Thanks cousin Rhona!)
The pristine water of Lake George, the water protected by the Lake George Association for over 125 years, of course, is one of the primary reason Lake George island camping is so coveted.
So.. how about taking just a couple minutes (before racing to make those reservations) to review how to be a lake-friendly camper, to make sure those islands and their surrounding water, stay beautiful and clean for the centuries to come.
1. Go as far away from the shoreline as possible when cleaning your body or your dishes. 200 feet away from shore is the generally accepted recommendation. A collapsible water bucket and a water carrier are great tools to bring along on your trip. Isn’t it great that you can fill them up in the lake, because the water is SO clean? Some people even invest in sun showers.
2. Use hot water and a wash cloth instead of soap to use for cleaning your body or dishes. For your teeth, use baking soda. You can also bring along water-less alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
3. Biodegradable camp soap, while better than regular soap, still requires the bacteria in the soil in order to biodegrade, and the process still takes time. So never use it directly in the water, and use it as sparingly as possible.
4. Dump any soap suds or used washing water as far away from the shoreline as possible and dig a six-inch deep hole to pour the gray water in, to give it more exposure to the soil.
5. Don’t ever use a soap or detergent or other product with phosphorus.
6. Place your tent on the designated pad. If you have a second tent, place it where one has been placed before (if possible) and where there is no vegetation growing.
7. Preserve as much vegetation as possible while on the island. Do not cut down living bushes or trees. The native plants on the islands are important for controlling soil erosion, and preserving water quality.
8. Cook using a camp stove when possible… and keep a fire going only when you really are going to be sitting by it to enjoy it, or use it. Build your fire only in the designated spot.
9. Purchase camp wood at a local supply store. Do not bring camp wood from over 50 miles away (this is now a state law)….invasive terrestrial insects like the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long-horned Beetle like to hitchhike in camp wood and they are devastating to trees.
10. Bring plenty of garbage bags, and make sure to store both your garbage and your food on your boat over-night, to avoid unwanted visits from animals. Make sure to leave your campsite cleaner than you found it, and take ALL garbage with you when you leave. (During your stay, or afterwards, you can take your garbage to three collection centers: Uncas Island, Narrow Island or Long Island.)
11. Don’t ever feed the birds — seagulls or waterfowl — geese or ducks.
So remember… here’s your lake-friendly camping shopping list for next season (maybe Santa could bring a few of these items to you!):
– collapsible bucket
– water carrier
– camp stove
– baking soda (also great to help put out a fire in an emergency)
– camp shovel (for digging the hole for gray water)
– camp wood from a LOCAL supplier.
Now that you’re all prepped for camping from the Lake-friendly angle. Better get crackin’ on those reservations! Here are the links you need: