Having worked at our regional Boy Scout Council for nearly 15 years and growing up near the mountains, I have camped a number of times. I have witnessed and heard about common things that go wrong when camping and hiking. By simply avoiding these 5 Frequent Camping Mistakes, you can make your time in the outdoors memorable for all the right reasons.
Letting Kids Run In The Campsite
I have seen it too many times. Skinned knees from tripping over tent stakes, hidden stumps, and fallen tree limbs. Especially dangerous is kids running near campfires. In the blink of an eye, a child can lose his or her balance and fall right into the fire. Campsites can become especially hazardous when the sun sets and visibility declines.
Improperly Handling A Knife
More nicked fingers and stitches seem to result from mishandling of knives than anything else when camping. Always make sure that the knife is sharp (no dull edges), that you cut away from yourself, no one is standing near you when your using the knife, and that the knife is properly stored when not in use. Finally, make sure that don’t do things like whittle a stick on your knee or cut a piece of fruit while holding it in the palm of your hand.
Not Telling Someone Where You Are Going And When To Expect You Back
Even if you are just going to camp at a local state park for the weekend, make sure that a friend or family member knows where you are going and when you plan to come home. If you are going to remote, back country areas giving a trusted person your itinerary is imperative. If for any reason, you do not show back up when planned, that person can send someone to check on you.
Neglecting To Follow The Cardinal Rules Of Campfires
Properly building, maintaining, and extinguishing a campfire does take some diligence.
- Before you go camping, check to see if any burn bans are in effect. I know in our area of the country, in recent years, we have seen an increasing number of burn bans.
- Check out campsite policy on campfires before you go. Many more developed sites will provide fire rings for camper use. If a fire ring is not available, you will need make sure that the area is properly cleared before you build a fire in that location. Find step-by-step site prep instructions at Smokeybear.com
- Build your campfire in stages. Check out these good instructions from Scouting Magazine.
- Carefully supervise children around the campfire. Kids are naturally attracted by fire and love to put sticks and other objects in them. Older kids/teens seem to be especially tempted to experiment with putting objects in fires just to see what happens when they burn up. Putting things like batteries, cooking grease, or gasoline into a fire can result in devastating consequences
- Also, make sure that your campfire is properly extinguished before you leave the campsite.
Forgetting To Pack Essential Gear
Weather conditions can change quickly. Being stuck in soaking wet clothes in cold conditions because you didn’t pack rain gear can not only be miserable, but lead to hypothermia. Take the time to plan ahead and be prepared with the things that you may need.
Avoiding the 5 Common Camping Mistakes above is not difficult, but sure can help prevent injury or worse. Because after all, being in the great outdoors for leisure should be fun.
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