Summer cabin guests do’s and don’ts


“Fish and visitors stink after three days” – Benjamin Franklin

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Been invited to be a guest at a friend’s cabin this summer? Great! Follow these easy rules and you’ll be the perfect summer cabin guest.

DO the dishes.

Most cabins come with a dishwasher… and you’re it! That’s right, if you’re a guest at a friend’s cottage, you’re the automatic dishwasher. And that goes for kids, too. If the kids are eight years or older, they should be ready, willing, and able to get completely suds’d up.

DON’T bring too much stuff.

You’re not moving to the cabin, you’re visiting for three nights (or less). We’re into the dog days of one of the driest summers ever, so you really don’t need all that much clothing. Make the trip to your friend’s cabin an excuse for a digital detox: leave all the electronic devices and gadgetry at home.

DO consolidate your crap.

Whatever you bring, don’t spread it around the cabin like your suitcase just exploded. Unless it’s food that needs to be refrigerated, consolidate your stuff to the designated area where you’re sleeping, and nowhere else.

DON’T bring teenagers.

Unless your kid is that one teenager who actually loves being in the middle of the wilderness, with no WiFi, no TV, no roads, and no other teenagers to hang out with, don’t bring them. Nothing brings a long weekend at the cottage down faster than the surly older teenager who won’t get off the couch, let alone pose for a group photo, or help clean up, or be into a canoe paddle or a hike, or god forbid a round of charades.

DO bring food and booze.

Bring enough chow so that you can prepare at least one breakfast and one dinner for your hosts and any other guests during your stay. Check in advance for dietary restrictions to avoid an embarrassing culinary SNAFU, when the nearest grocery store could be hours in the opposite direction. Always bring more booze than you think you’ll drink. Left over booze and food should be left behind for your host and future guests unless your host specifies otherwise.

DON’T leave the place in a mess.

It’s not the Chateau Marmont and you’re not Led Zeppelin. The only chambermaid that will clean up the horrendous mess you left behind is your host, begrudgingly and for hours, after you leave. Having wild sex at your friend’s cabin? Be absolutely sure to remove the used condoms. I type this from the experience of finding just those stuck to the wall in the guest room.

DO be a self-starter.

Your hosts aren’t camp counselors responsible for laying out your minute-to-minute activities. Be prepared to do your own thing. Go for a walk, take the kayak out for a (long) paddle, prepare your own simple breakfast, read a book in the hammock, and give your hosts a break. Do a little research into cottage and cabin culture, like the golden water conservation rule of “yellow is mellow, but brown goes down”. And shower sparingly.

DON’T bring a Chihuahua.

Small dog, long story.


Grant Lawrence is the author of “Adventures in Solitude: What Not To Wear To A Nude Potluck and other Stories from Desolation Sound”, a memoir about summers at his family cabin on the West Coast of BC, where he has hosted many 

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