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Camping Rules and Etiquette – Keeping Children Safe

February 21, 2010 by · 9 Comments 


Taking a child or children on a camping trip should be an exciting and rewarding experience for both the adults there to supervise and the youngsters.

Did you note the word supervise?

Children are naturally adventurous and playful.  Unfortunately, the rules of etiquette that make children good campers are not always properly emphasized by the adults responsible for their care.  This behavior, of course, exposes the children to an unnecessary risk to their safety and can dampen the enjoyment of the camping experience of other campers.

It is possible that some first-time adult campers are not familiar with all of the expected courtesies one camper should extend to another.  Therefore, it might be wise for adults to review the “rules” as well..  One of the rules of etiquette that all campers should respect is to not cut through someone else’s camping site when common walking paths are available.  Of course, proper care of pets and respect for the campground’s quite hours should always be observed.

Last spring Nancy and I spent Memorial Day weekend at Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive in Virginia.  One of our grandchildren came with us.

On the camping site next to us were two adults with three young children.  I would guess their span of ages to be something like 4, 7 and 9 years.  Almost immediately upon arrival the adults apparently just turned the children loose to do as they pleased.  At the corner of their camping site was a small Dogwood tree with low branches.  The children decided it would be a great tree to climb.  Over a period of about ten minutes they managed to break two of the lower branches off of the tree and in the process hurt the middle child enough that he started crying.  His Mother eventually came to the child’s aid, took him inside the camper and left the other two outside to continue their destruction of the tree.  It was our grandchild that commented on the lack of concern expressed by the parents.

Of course, destruction of any plants, flora or trees is definitely wrong when camping or hiking and in some places punishable by a stiff fine.

Camp fires are often a new experience for young campers.  Part of their natural quest for discovery is to take a stick and place it in the fire.  The stick is then withdrawn with the tip glowing red hot and spun around so as to do fire writing.  Sadly, this practice often causes a nasty burn to someone close by and may even start an unwanted fire elsewhere.

Wildlife in parks like Big Meadows often appear  tame.   Deer walk right through the campground.  Raccoons, skunks, opossums, chipmunks and squirrels pay regular visits to campsites in search of food.  Occasionally, black bears will meander up without any apparent fear of humans.   It is not uncommon to see children feeding the wild animals.  Again, a practice that is both dangerous to the children and harmful to the animals.   Unsuspecting campers will awake, ready to fix breakfast, only to find their coolers opened and ransacked by night visitors and all of their packaged food totally missing!  ALL food should be kept in your camper or car.   Food scraps should be promptly placed in provided animal proof refuse containers.  In many wilderness campgrounds large steel “bear proof” cabinets are provided in tent camping areas.

Many campgrounds have paved inner roads.  They appear to children to be the perfect place to ride their bikes and skateboards.  These roadways are also traveled by cars, trucks and motor homes.  Children who are not attentive put themselves at risk of injury – especially when the driver of the vehicle is also inattentive or perhaps driving too fast.  For the safety of all involved, children should play at their campsite or in designated playgrounds and fields.   Use of the roads by bikers and hikers, or those just taking a walk should be consistent with laws governing the use of public roadways.

When arriving at a campground all adults should immediately read the posted campground rules.  The second step is to advise children under their care what the campground’s rules are and explain to them that these are not just suggestions, but real rules for their safety.

There are many, many camping rules and responsibilities that children (and adults!) should adhere to at all times.  When rules of safety and courtesy are not followed, someone usually ends up getting hurt or extremely upset.

Of course, the responsibility of the adults charged with supervising the children is the key issue.  When taking children camping always assume the responsibility of properly supervising your children  and be sure that all involved know the proper etiquette of the camping community.

What are some of the rules of camping etiquette and safety that you consider important for children to know and follow?

Search for places to go camping with kids.


9 Responses to “Camping Rules and Etiquette – Keeping Children Safe”
  1. Denise N. Crew says:

    I really think someone should right a book on camping etiquette and it should be given w/ every camper purchased!
    Part of camping for us is spending time w/ our kids, so we’re always surprised to see a playground overrun with children and not a parent in sight to supervise. Always make sure your children understand that the playground it there for all to use and the older children are not to try to bully the younger ones.

  2. RA Manseau says:

    I was fortunate that I was raised camping and so were my children. My mom made sure everyone knew what to do and not to do. One very important rule especially in bear country is no food in the tent. (We often had a tent for the teenagers) Bears can smell food in a tent. And I don’t know about you but I don’t like sleeping with ants or having mice attack the tent in storage going after crumbs that did not get cleaned out.
    When we went to Lake Tahoe in California we were cautioned to keep all food sealed and if coolers were in the car they were covered so the bears would not see them. They told us that bears have seriously damaged cars when going after coolers.

  3. Jeri Lessley says:

    We often camp by a lake. Kids of all ages go down to the lake and most of them have a parent or two with them. However, there are those who run around unsupervised all day. The campground is very hilly and the kids ride their bikes down and skid to a halt at the bottom. We haven’t seen anyone get seriously hurt , but with cars going up and down and people walking it seems inevitable.
    We camp with dogs. As a youngster I was taught that other people’s campground was just like their yard at home. I stayed out of it unless invited in. These days people just walk through as though it was their right. Our dogs are spooky and they are certain that they own that place when we’re there. They haven’t bitten anyone and I do not want them to, but parents need to teach their children proper campground etiquette. and even practice it themselves.

  4. Great post! I think you should consider doing one on camping etiquette for adults too! We’ve all dealt with the campers from hell before with their litter, loud music and other annoyances. I agree with Denise-someone should write a book on camping etiquette and have it handed out at all campgrounds!

  5. Nancy McLean says:

    Great post. I think a campground etiquette book should be given to all first time guest at all campgrounds and RV resorts.

  6. Marianne says:

    This is an example of a blog that is worth reading. Congratulations Professor95 for constructing such an informative article. This is very useful to all campers.

  7. Steven says:

    This is sad but parents should be responsible enough to watch after their kids and that at this very early age, they should be able to teach them how to take care of their environment and leave things and nature as they have found them when they arrived so others can also enjoy the same beauty they have seen. A tree takes only seconds to destroy but it takes years for them to grow. I hope everyone realizes that.

  8. gmajane says:

    Great post……we do let my grandkids ride bikes, but we usually camp on weekdays and there are not very many campers at our favorite campgrounds during the week. They are required to stay where we can see them. I like what you said about not walking through other people’s campsites, and other general etiquette things.

  9. Jon says:

    Lets face it people today think that because they pay for a campground that it gives them the right to do what ever they please. Let the kids run wild after all they are just kids. I love kids but parents need to know everyone is not fond of them making all kinds of noise , running thru my campground , throw things at my dog. Then we have the adults who party all night. All I am asking is please respect my camping space. We all there to enjoy the great outdoors!

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