These safety tips for camping with kids will have everyone enjoying the summer camp season. Parents don’t have to worry with these prep tips for campsites and campfires. Let’s talk about the big ones first…
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Safety Tips for Camping with Kids
We love camping – the hikes, playful bonding, education, and wildlife are enough to keep us camping year after year. But camping with kids can be… stressful.
Straight talk: it’s downright stressful to put together all of the supplies, meal plan, excursions, hikes, day trips, and games. So we’re helping out by sharing safety tips for camping with kids.
If you’re heading out on a long road trip to get to your destination, be sure to check out our list of road trip snacks for kids (they’ll actually eat these).
What You'll Find On This Page
1 – First Aid Kit Location and Protocol
It’s all fun and games until someone starts crying. On every camp, scrapes, pokes, pricks, random weird bumps, bites, and bruises are plentiful.
We make sure the kids can help themselves (with supervision) for the minor ouchies. For everything else, the kids know they must get an adult.
Additionally, a couple of rules we have for the kids are:
- not to use any utility knife, tent stake, or other camp supply without supervision
- always wear shoes
- if your socks are wet, change them
- never go anywhere alone (with larger camping groups, we set up ‘buddies’)
- fishing poles are not lightsabers…
2 – Know Your Surroundings
When you camp in a campground, it’s a little easier to know your surroundings than when out in the wild. Some of the larger campgrounds will provide a printed map and the smaller ones usually have a map at the entrance.
But what do kids really need to know about their campsite and natural surroundings? Here are some of our biggest safety tips for camping with kids:
- the campsite number – on a post near the site entrance or painted on the ground
- where the bathrooms are and the path to get there and back
- the locations of ANY bodies of water and how and when to visit them
- a central meeting location in case the party is separated at any time
- be mindful of others – don’t wander into others’ sites; don’t scream “On Top of Spaghetti” at 6 am
- the types of animals near the site and how to take care of themselves (what to do if they encounter them); we also have a rule: absolutely no petting of any wild animals
- do not eat anything off trees or bushes (no berries, mushrooms, nuts, flowers, etc.)
- Note: ALWAYS have kids carry a safety whistle while camping (let them keep it around their neck). Instruct them how to use it and what to do if they are separated (stay put, call for help, blow the whistle repeatedly).
3 – General Camp Supplies
Flashlights, headlamps, and S’mores fixings – all of those are likely to be front and center during a camping trip with kids. But what about bug spray, a tick key, extra safety whistles, sunscreen, extra hats, etc.?
We usually have a tote bin dedicated to all these necessities and the kids are usually very good about putting everything bac. Before a hike or excursion, we’ll load up our packs with whatever general camp supplies we need.
When we return, we’ll unpack and pop out the campsite’s supplies. A few general camp supplies which go into the lockable tote are a tablecloth, camp chairs, roasting sticks, and lanterns.
Getting kids in the habit of packing up the site helps to keep them mindful of the group. Note: we use large, clear tote bins which are labeled so it’s easy to see which bins are for food, swimming/bathing, campsite supplies, etc.
4 – Campsite Clean Up Rules
We camp and hike in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. There are usually MANY animals in close proximity, including bears.
It’s a rule in our camps to make certain even the kids know how to clean up after themselves, package food, and throw waste away properly. In some sites, we show them where the food storage containers are and other times we make a big deal of hanging a bear-free storage bucket.
Either way, the kids know they cannot walk away without cleaning up because it is a safety issue.
Also, teach the kids not to bring ANY food into a tent. Ever.
5 – Fire Safety While Camping
We let the kids build the fires (or let them try, at least). Building a fire safely is a skill any child is capable of (we started ours at 5-years-old), but only under direct supervision.
What about after the fire is roaring? We have some hard-and-fast rules for fire safety.
- absolutely no playing near the fire – no running, jumping over the fire, hackeysacks, etc.
- do not throw anything in the fire, even if the fire is dying out
- no attempts to cook anything without adults
- kindling and flying embers can ‘jump’ – be mindful
- everyone checks that the fire is out before we leave camp – everyone, even the little ones