Safe Camping with Kids Requires Rules
Camping safety is more important than ever when kids are involved. And it is your responsibility to make their camping experience as safe as possible. That means RULES, and paying attention to the basics. Things you take for granted as an adult in a camping environment, are not so obvious to kids.
These camping safety tips and rules may seem like basic common-sense to you, but you can't assume they are common sense to kids too! It's your responsibility set the rules, tell the kids the rules, and then enforce the rules. It's too late when you are driving to the hospital.
Camping is Fun - When It's Safe
Of course you know not to run and play around the campfire, but do the kids? And even if they do, will they automatically remember to slow down and walk through camp when they are in the middle of a game of "Tag?"
Camp safety means rules! "But camping is supposed to be fun", you say. Yes, and it will be as long as you set the rules for camp safety, - and enforce them.
Set The Camp Rules When You Arrive
It is your responsibility to explain camp safety rules to the kids, and when you tell them is almost as important as what you tell them. Telling them on the drive to camp is almost a wasted effort. They will acknowledge you, but they are really thinking about the fun they will have at camp. Your lecture on safety and rules will go in one ear and out the other.
The best time to explain the rules, (and the reasons for them), is after you get to camp, but before you turn them loose on their own. You should actually put on your serious face, and have everyone sit-down and pay attention while you talk. If it's the first time, your attitude will impress them that you take this seriously, if it's not the first time, it will reinforce the seriousness of camp safety. Also be sure to explain why they have to have camp rules, it may help them understand why they need to follow them. (maybe a little, if you are lucky)
A kid-friendly, kid-safe campsite layout will also help ensure a fun and accident free camp outing. You can see an example here: Safe Campsite Layouts for Camping with Kids
First - Basic Camp Rules
Yes, you do have to tell the kids things they should already know.
- No Running in Camp! None! Roots and lines to trip over, campfires to fall into, camping equipment to knock over.
- No Horseplay in Camp! Take it out of camp to do it. Same reasons as No Running, but more so, with horseplay you have multiple bodies flinging around.
- Must Always Wear Footwear! Thorns, splinters, sharp rocks, hot coals, and maybe even broken glass in poorly-run campgrounds. Bare feet are an easy way to turn a camping trip into a miserable ordeal.
- No Food, Snacks, or Candy in the Tents! Not even empty wrappers or baggies. Think bait - for bears, (maybe), raccoons and other woodland varmints, or at the least ants and other bugs and flies. Odors from human foods are not natural to nature's environment, and even the residual whiffs from a candy wrapper can be like a magnet drawing critters from hundreds of yards away.
- No Lighters, Matches, or Candles in the Tent! Just think of all the flammable stuff in a tent. Remember those opening statements above?
- Use the Buddy-System, Never Leave Camp Alone! This one is most needed for younger campers, but the more wild the camping environment, the more important it is for kids of all ages.
Of course this is simple common sense stuff to adults, and experienced campers, but those thoughts will never cross the mind of a young camper enjoying a great adventure - unless you put them there!
It is your responsibility to do all you can to ensure that they have a safe camping experience, and you must start with the basics, just as if you were teaching them to build a campfire or lean-to for the first time.
Campsite-Specific Safety Rules
Some camping locations and campsites will require some additional rules and guidance, just as the outdoor activities you plan will, but if you take the basics seriously and start your young campers off right, other needed rules and quidelines will come easily.
You can get more specific camping with kids safety rules and guidelines here at: Camping Safety and Rules for Kids
About the Author
The author behind Camping with Kids is Gus, from Campingwithgus.com. An avid life-long tent camper that has camped in the mountains and on the plains, and in all four seasons - from 100+ to -10 degree weather. As a kid, with adults on week-long bear-hunting camps, and as an adult Boy Scout leader. Check the Camping with Kids profile to see more from Gus.
Camping with Kids - Safety Tips and Rules Comments
oria on July 24, 2017:
I never been camping befor
DR Zaan on October 26, 2016:
what about no fiscal fighting
Tia on February 15, 2013:
Nice stuff doing path finders
GA Andereson (Gus) (author) from Maryland, USA on January 15, 2012:
@Rpenafiel - Thanks for reading Camping with Kids - Safety Tips and Rules Comments, and leaving such a nice comment.
Rpenafiel from United States on January 05, 2012:
Great tips! I think it will be very helpful, too, if each of the kid campers will have a device that will further secure their safety. An emergency response system is one of these. Through this, parents can be confident that their kids can easily call for an immediate help in case an untoward incident occurs. A simple feature phone such as the Just5 Easyphone has this functionality in addition to its basic features. I believe this is really something that can help increase the peace of mind of the parents.
GA Andereson (Gus) (author) from Maryland, USA on July 03, 2011:
@Denise - ahh... one of my camping dreams is to get to Alaska some day to camp - but not with kids the first time, LOL.
I had some qualms writing this one, the information is so basic that it feels like I was just telling people something they already knew, but my previous camping with kids experience reminded me that even if they might know it - they don't think it's important enough to follow - until a kid gets hurt.
Denise Handlon from North Carolina on July 02, 2011:
Well written and sound advice. My camping experiences with my siblings were when dad took us tent camping-and girl scouts. Then, camping as an adult-the highlight being at Denali Nat'l Park in Alaska.
GA Andereson (Gus) (author) from Maryland, USA on July 01, 2011:
@thebluearatus- LOL - I will do a hub on some Scout lashing knots, so you can restrict your sisters aggravations. ( of course YOU may suffer some consequences)
thebluearatus on July 01, 2011:
i definitely need that. last time i went for a trip, i landed on the mud slept with earthworms, and what else wrong could have happened !!!. Though more than them i need protection from my kid sister (12 years old) and her friends, who love to trouble me.
I am going to follow your article, hope this time things goes well.
GA Andereson (Gus) (author) from Maryland, USA on June 30, 2011:
@Loreva13 - Thanks for the read, and the comment. I agree, once you camp with kids you quickly realize that kids need firm reminders about even the most basic, taken-for-granted safety issues.
Lorenzo M Vasquez III from El Paso, TX on June 30, 2011:
This good information for anyone who is taking their kids camping for the first time. This hub should remind veteran campers of the hazards any young child can encounter well camping or just in the outdoors.