In this guide I will be sharing with you our camp safety rules. These rules are set in place to help keep our family safe and protected during our camping trips. Our goal is to help educate our kids on emergency situations as well as make them aware of their environment. With simple camping rules that your kids can follow, you can rest easy during your camping trip that safety will be key.
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**NOTE: THERE IS A FREE PRINTABLE OF ALL THE CAMPING SAFETY RULES FOR KIDS AT THE END OF THIS POST. YOU CAN PRINT AND KEEP THIS HANDY WITH YOUDURING YOUR CAMPING TRIP.
CAMPING SAFETY RULES FOR KIDS: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE THESE RULES
As a parent I always worry about my kids and their whereabouts. Keeping tabs on them and making sure they are safe is my main priority at all times. This is why I always sit down with my kids and go over a few rules. My goal is to make sure to keep them safe around the campground once we arrive. After setting up we will go over the rules. We don’t make it sound strict, like you will be in trouble if you don’t listen. Our objective is to let them know that these rules are set in place for their safety and wellbeing. Once they understand why we have these rules, the easier it is for them to follow.
Here are our camp rules:
1. WRITE YOUR CAMPSITE NUMBER ON THEIR HAND
This is such an amazing tip that I learned from Take Them Outside. I’ve done this during our camping trips before. This way I can rest easy that they will know what campsite to go to if they get lost. You can also write the number on their shoulder if you think it’s going to wash off throughout the day. You can also use a sticker that you put in the inside of their shirt or sleeve. This way all they have to do is just flip the edge of the shirt to see their campsite number.
2. KEEP SHOES ON AT ALL TIMES
You never know where you are stepping when you are running and having fun. Making sure that your kids have shoes on at all times is very important to prevent injuries. Your child can accidentally slip, step on a poisonous spider, step on a sharp rock, or worse. [The spider one happened to me when I was little.] If your child has sandals I would recommend they use non-slip sandals instead of flip flops. Flip flops can be slippery and lead to a potential injury.
Some shoes that I recommend for kids are:
- Teva Hurricane Sandals
- Seacamp II Sandals
- Merell Moab FST Low Waterproof Shoes
- Salomon Speedcross J-Trail Running Shoes
- Merell Moab FST Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots
Some things to look for when picking out a good hiking shoe for your kids are:
- Comfortable for your child
- Reliable and trustworthy brand
3. BEWARE OF POISONOUS PLANTS AND INSECTS
It is important to always be aware of your surroundings especially outdoors. You never know when you will brush on a poisonous plant or step on one. It is important for your family to know what poisonous plants are in the area and what they look like. As a precaution, know what to do incase you or your child accidentally touch a poisonous plant. Also how to prevent it from spreading in this case. Here are some tips:
- Have a book of poisonous plants and teach your children about them. Show them the details of the leaves, the vines, stems, etc. so it is easier for them to identify them. You can even do a scavenger hunt and learn different outdoor plants including the poisonous ones and none poisonous ones.
- Have ointments, Benadryl, and bandages in your first aid kit at all times.
- Know the proper care for each type of plant.
- Know how to properly identify it by looking at the condition of the skin. Some first aid kits or even plant books have pictures to help you out.
- Always have a plant guide handy at camp just in case.
The most common types of poisonous plants in the USA include:
- Poison Oak
- Poison Ivy
You can learn more about poisonous plants in North America here.
4. ALWAYS HAVE A WHISTLE ON YOU FOR EMERGENCIES
This can be optional depending on the situation and even the ages of your kids. I know that if I give my kids a whistle they will be blowing it ALL THE TIME! However, it is a good idea to have one handy for your kids to use for certain situations. For instance, playing at the playground at the camp with other kids or on a hiking trail.
It is important to teach them that the whistle is not a toy. That it is only to be used for an emergency situation. Give them examples of what an emergency situation is and what isn’t. By knowing the difference they have an idea of how to respond to each situation.
5. NEVER PLAY BY THE WATER WITHOUT ANY ADULT SUPERVISION AND PARENT CONSENT
I can’t stress this one enough. I never let my kids play in the water unless we or someone we know and trust are present. You just never know when a child can slip on a rock, sprain an ankle or even worse. I love the water but I respect it and have taught my kids to love and respect it as well.
6. STAY HYDRATED WITH CLEAN FILTERED WATER
They are kids so yes it’s important to stress the part of clean filtered water. You would be surprised by the things that cross our kid’s minds. One thing that we do is have a 5 gallon cooler jug full of ice and water at all times. This way they can have access to fill their water bottles all throughout the day.
7. NEVER PLAY WITH FIRE
Fire is beautiful but yet so deadly. It is important to teach your kids to never play with fire. If there is a campfire they should maintain a safe distance from it. Explain to them how they can get burned or even set the camp on fire.
If you have an older child you can teach your child how to make a campfire. Teach them how to make a safe fire in a campfire ring and how to keep it burning and contained. Also teach them how to properly put it out to prevent any forest fires.
8. NEVER TOUCH, CALL, OR FEED WILD ANIMALS
Animals are beautiful but it is best to enjoy them from a distance. It’s important to never touch, call our even feed a wild animal. If your child wants to enjoy the wildlife around the campground you can buy them a pair of binoculars. This way they can get a close look at the wildlife from a safe distance.
9. KNOW HOW TO REACT IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION
I briefly mentioned this before but I wanted to go more into detail about it. They way you react to an emergency situation can make a big difference in the outcome of the event. It is important to teach your child some basic first aid. Also show them how to handle different emergency situations.
Kids learn better by hands on learning so you can play pretend with them. Play a few different scenarios with your child and teach them how to respond to it. For instance, give them a scenario where someone slipped and cut their leg. Teach them how to stay calm. Quickly grab a shirt or something absorbent to put on the wound. Apply pressure on the area and come with a plan to get help. If the victim is not on unconscious, have the victim apply the issue while you run for help. If the victim is unconscious, teach child how to apply pressure with a tourniquet while you run for help. Tell them to always pin point the location to get the proper help to the victim.
You can play different scenarios like this in your backyard or even at camp to help get them mentally prepared. I remember doing this as a child. Now that I’m a mom, that training has helped me out so much with urgent situations with my own kids.
10. ALWAYS LET A PARENT OR GUARDIAN KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AT AT ALL TIMES
This is probably our number one rule!!! We like to know where our kids are at at all times. Its important to be able to keep track of your kids whereabouts. Knowing where they are wondering off too gives you peace of mind. You can also go to the location they said they will be at and check up on them.
11. STAY IN TOUCH FREQUENTLY
As another important camp safety rule, I like for my kids to check in with me often. You can do this in different ways. You can have your child come check in with you in person every 15-20 minutes.
Another way for them to check in is by using walkie talkies. This way they don’t have to keep coming back to camp constantly. Using walkie talkies also makes it easier for emergency situations.
A more tech savvy way is by using a GPS watch for kids. I personally haven’t tried one but have heard of other parents using it with their kids and they love it. They can know their child’s whereabouts at all times and even their location.
If your child has a cell phone then you can also use that. For areas with limited service I would highly recommend that your family gets a mesh network device. The one I recommend is the GoTenna Mesh device. You can read more about the GoTenna Mesh device here.
12. FOLLOW THE SEVEN LEAVE NO TRACE PRINCIPLES
One camp safety rule that I am uptight about are the 7 Leave NO Trace Principles. I highly believe that by following the LNT Principles you can enjoy the great outdoors. By doing so you are also preserving the outdoor places you visit and keeping them clean for others to enjoy. You can read more about the 7 Leave No Trace Principles in this guide.
13. STAY IN DESIGNATED AREAS THAT ARE PUT IN PLACE BY THE PARENT
I always tell my kids to stay in designated areas only. These would be areas that I am comfortable with them playing at. I usually pick an area around the campsite away from the water. I would pick certain trees for them not to pass. However, if you have younger children you can put a rope around the designated area so they know their boundaries.
Other areas that you can choose as designated areas can include:
- Convenience stores in the campground
- Campground gift shop
- Picnic areas
- A gazebo
Please choose something that you as a parent and your child are both comfortable with.
14. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM WHEN EXPLORING BEYOND THE CAMPSITE WITHOUT A PARENT
When my kids explore beyond the campsite without a parent, I like for them to use the buddy system. This means that my daughters will be together or with someone I trust when I am not around, never alone.
15. FOLLOW CAMPGROUND ETIQUETTE AT ALL TIMES
Campground etiquette is important and makes all the campers in the area happy. These are some of the basic camping etiquettes to teach your children and to practice as well:
- Not being loud after hours.
- No running through someone else’s campsite.
- Not touching other people’s belongings.
- Being courteous and respectful of other campers.
- and more.
16. STRANGER DANGER!!!
This is a must! I have taught my kids to yell “STRANGER DANGER!!!” when they are confronted with a bad situation with a stranger. These can include when a stranger is:
- Asking them inappropriate questions.
- Asking them to leave with them.
- Or making them feel uncomfortable in any way.
We have yet to run into such a situation during any of our camping trips. Regardless, I still teach my girls to always be aware. Remember that it is better to always be prepared then to be confronted with a situation in which your children don’t know what to do.
17. CAMPING TOOLS ARE NOT TOYS!
This is another huge camping safety rule for our kids. Just like any other camper, there will be tools around the campsites that your children shouldn’t play with. These can include hammers, tent stakes, fire, ax, knives, etc. My children know that if they see a tool, to let us know so we can put it away immediately.
18. ALWAYS PUT FOOD AWAY PROPERLY TO AVOID UNWANTED VISITORS
I have taught my kids to always dispose of their leftovers properly in the trash. Also to put away any food before leaving the campsite or before bed. They know that leaving food out in the open can attract unwanted visitors such as squirrels or even bears. A simple food clean up before leaving the campsite or before bed can leave everyone safe and even your belongings.
19. NEVER PLAY AROUND THE FIREPIT OR OTHER DANGEROUS AREAS
Fires are beautiful nut also dangerous. There is something about sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and eating smores that makes camping perfect. However, it is important for our kids to know that there shouldn’t be any running around the campfire. We have taught our kids to always keep a safe distance. If they need to get something I always have them walk behind the seats away from the fire. I also tell them not to run around the campfire ring even when there is not a fire. Most fire rings have stones or even a grill and you wouldn’t want your child to slip and get hurt.
20. DON’T GO HIKING WITHOUT A PARENT
We have a rule that we always go hiking as a family. I will never let my kids go hiking without us. Our kids are younger so I still feel that it is important for them to always hike with an adult. If you have older kids then this may be slightly different for you. Depending on the trail and hiking level of experience you may be comfortable letting your older children hike. However, for younger kids, I feel that hiking with a parent or an adult is important.
If your family loves to hike then you may want to check these guides out. They can help you be more prepared for your hiking adventures:
- Hiking Baby Essentials
- Must Haves When Hiking with Kids
- How To Choose The Best Hike For Your Child
- Tips for Hiking with Kids
21. EAT HEALTHY SNACKS
It is important to eat healthy snacks throughout the day. Eating snacks high in protein will give your kids the energy they need to continue throughout their day. Some snacks that you can pack for your camping trip can be:
- Granola Bars
- Protein Bars
- Trail Mix
Don’t get me wrong though! A little treat is always good too, but too much can give your kids a tummy ache.
READ MORE: HEALTHY SNACK IDEAS FOR KIDS ON THE GO
GET THE FREE PRINTABLE FOR CAMPING SAFETY RULES FOR KIDS
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SUMMARY ABOUT THE CAMPING SAFETY RULES YOUR KIDS SHOULD KNOW
I hope that this guide helps keep you and your family safe during your camping trips. Are there any other rules that you would add to this list or take out? Let me know in the comments below.