Sunday, October 2, 2022


Obnoxious outdoor movie projectors and big screens coming to a campground near you!

Outdoor movie projectors are becoming more and more popular. As campground hosts, we are seeing more and more people setting up huge screens with projectors and playing movies well into the night. This usually involves a number of friends and family. What use is an outside movie night without a large gathering? So much for quiet hours and sitting around the ol’ campfire…

Know your audience

Yes, it is cool. Yes, it is reminiscent of the old drive-in theaters. The kids love it, at least for a while. Adults like it too, if they are the intended audience. The unintended victims are the folks camped in a tent next door. The people across from the screen where not only the light is distracting, the screams of the current Sci-Fi horror movie are threatening to cause nightmares… and not just children’s.

As camp hosts, we have had to ask campers to not only turn it off during quiet hours, but to also shut down the generator running it.

Outdoor movie etiquette

If you decide to run your own theater with an outdoor movie projector, please be aware of the impact around you.

  • Ask your neighbors if they mind. Better yet, invite them!
  • Keep the volume low.
  • Forget the R-rated or even PG-13 flicks. Campgrounds are usually filled with young children.
  • Turn the screen so it is not shining into someone else’s campsite.
  • Book an electric site to not add non-stop generator noise too.
  • Shut it down during quiet hours.

If outdoor camping movie projectors and a big screen are essential camping equipment, be fair to others. Or, perhaps save those for home and try a night around the campfire telling ghost stories and making memories the old-fashioned way.

Editor’s note: Outdoor movie screens and projectors are being sold as a package at big-box stores and on Amazon for as low as $89. The photo above is from one on Amazon. It’s being marketed towards “campers.” Yikes! 




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3 months ago

This makes me so glad that I go to Ontario parks which have Radio-free areas. Some areas are even radio free, dog free and generator free. Awesome.

Tony Barthel(@tony)
6 months ago

We do this quite a bit – I camp with a projector and I even have a Spandex outdoor screen that I bring. We use a Bluetooth speaker and I absolutely love sharing movies in the campground.

But this is also why I love to camp in large groups – we just “own” a section of the campground so our drinking, carousing and noise making don’t disturb folks who aren’t part of our group.

Jeff Craig
6 months ago

In the summers, we break out our projector and screen in WA State Parks, but only on weekends. We have a canopy that we attach the 10x14ft screen inside of, and have a bluetooth speaker for audio. We always play PG movies (Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc…) and have only had one issue – when the Park Ranger reminded us it was quiet hours (sunset was about 10P, we started at 9:45P). We turned it down some, even though everyone was still out around their campfires.

3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Just because people aren’t in bed, doesn’t mean they want to listen to your movie. I enjoy the quiet crackling of the campfire and soft conversation and laugher with my family and friends. You can watch tv and movies at home and not bother anyone, why do it outside at a campground? Makes no sense, unless you think it makes people envious? Because it doesn’t, it just annoys others and ruins THEIR good time. (And before people start defending it and saying how they don’t mind, I many people exist like that) It’s just a lot of people also hate it and it ruins the camping experience for them. Is a movie worth ruining other peoples’ camping experiences?

Vanessa Simmons
6 months ago

I stayed at a private, owners only, campground last year and they showed a movie on Sat night in the commons area. It was well-advertised that it would happen and was a family movie event. Yes, it was loud but only for that one night, was well attended as I saw when I walked by on my evening stroll and over before 11. Actually sounded more like the rumble of a train but constant. If it had been someone in the campground doing it at their site I would have been upset

6 months ago

Just be sure the screen is facing away from others and wear Bluetooth headphones.

6 months ago

We suffered through this at a seaside California campground. The show was so violent it was sickening! It was so close to us we had to go inside to avoid seeing it but it was so loud we couldn’t block out the horrific screams! I couldn’t believe that it was allowed to be shown outdoors. Fortunately we only stayed one night.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Marion

Should have given the screen a “flying drop kick”, old wrestling move. Have your husband video tape it.

Brian Burry
6 months ago

Live and let live! It certainly would not bother us at all.

6 months ago

I can’t really figure this one out. The answer might be unpopular with some but easy. Campgrounds should make it a rule “no projectors/movie screens”. Plenty of rv resort type places offer movie nights so if that’s what you’re into I think you should go there. I would think those of us who favor the state parks etc. want quiet more so wouldn’t set up something like this anyway.

Gregg G.
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris

+10! Right on… There is a time and a place for this, maybe “camp” resort or your own backyard, not in a quiet place to be in nature.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Technology has crept into the normally quiet, campfire, family get away from it all expierence. Seems there is an increase of “Cousin Eddys” as the price of technology goes lower.

Is there a solution, probably a good ole fashion talkin too, if the movie is loud, or inappropriate for the surrounding campers.

6 months ago

At one campground, we kept hearing a loud TV. It was dark but probably not quiet hours yet. We sucked it up for about an hour or so. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore because we were sitting outside. I walked around to try to find it. It was two rows over and a lady was sitting there by herself watching her outdoor TV. I worked up the nerve to politely ask her if she would mind turning it down a bit because we could hear all the dialogue from her show two rows over. She appeared shocked and embarrassed. Really? She was nice enough to turn it down. However, I wondered why neither of her next door neighbors said anything.

Irvin Kanode
6 months ago

People camp for many different reasons. “Can’t we all just get along.” I wouldn’t let an outdoor movie bother me as long as: it’s before quiet hours, it’s not too loud, and it’s not “R-rated” if in a family campground.

For noise, we’ve turned on the exhaust fans or AC/Heater fan so their white-noise covered up the outside noise. But I then had a noisy neighbor complain the next day about the noise my Fantastic fans made.

6 months ago

A few years ago we stopped for the night at a private RV park to break up the drive. There were a lot of full-time residents. Apparently it was a resident’s birthday so to celebrate the camper across from us set up a movie screen around 7:00PM and invited lots of people to watch the movie. I was ok with that, however the movie was definitely an R-rated movie with lots of language and nudity. They had the volume up so high that you could hear it throughout the campground. Anyone walking by had a 4×6 foot scene of naked people doing the deed. The next morning I mentioned this to the park owner as we were leaving about how offensive the movie was and that there were kids in the campground and how could she allow that. She said it was so and so’s birthday and although she knew the movie was really bad, that’s the movie he wanted to watch and how could she say “No” on his birthday. Well, I will forever say “No” to that campground from now on.

Jeff Craig
6 months ago
Reply to  Suru

I hate to be the one to tell you, but if the park is full of ‘long time residents’ and they were having a park-wide birthday party for someone (I’m guessing an older guy from the movie description), they really don’t care what an overnighter thinks.

Was it in poor taste? DEFINITELY!
Was it your right to be offended? Yes
Should you have complained? Most certainly.
Will your opinion matter to those folks? Not one bit.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Nailed it!

6 months ago

Fortunately we haven’t been subjected to this yet.

While my family of campers will sometimes engage in a movie night…usually because weather is threatening…it’s always inside. My rig came with an outside TV which is rarely used. Sometimes I’ll watch the early evening news…volume on low…while grilling dinner and having a beverage.

6 months ago

Also not fun being next to someone blaring there outdoor tv so that everyone can hear it

Leonard Rempel
6 months ago

Get a boondocking site! I have not experienced someone this rude near me yet, but boy I can only imagine how annoying this would be! Respect and proper etiquette seem to be lost arts.

6 months ago

You try to be respectful of others, so you have a quiet generator. But there’s always those who bring contractor generators to the campground because they “can’t afford” a good one – and you’re expected to just ‘suck it up’. You use your inverter to watch TV, but the ‘quiet’ generators are all buzzing until 10pm (or later) to watch TV. Weekend hooligans move in next door and stay up until 2:30am laughing and talking and playing music. And now outside movies. After 20 years of this maybe it’s time to hang it up.

Last edited 6 months ago by chris
Selene Montgomery
6 months ago

We work at a family campground in Michigan. Quiet hours are enforced, so outside TV and movie noise is not acceptable, and patrons will be asked to turn the sound off starting at 11 P.M. If it’s very loud before then, they may be asked to turn it down for neighbors’ comfort.

6 months ago

Our society has lost all respect for anyone but themselves. Sad

Jesse Crouse
6 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Ban them all together. It has become OK to push the envelope because “personal rights” now trump “community living rights”.

Leslie P
6 months ago

We experienced the big projector movies in Quartzite this year. Kind of ruins it for everyone else. If it’s before quiet hours we have tolerated it but that’s not why we are out there for. Not one of our favorite “new ideas”.

6 months ago
Reply to  Leslie P

Why do Americans all think they are the chosen ones, when they do some think. Ps I have over 65 plus camping . Is not a good time anymore!

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