Scouts Canada wants to make sure Canadians stay safe while experiencing the great outdoors. Young or old, novice or experienced camper, Scouts Canada’s essential 10 summer camping tips will help ensure you get the most out of your trip and stay safe this summer. Plus, keep these tips handy for all your summer adventures - whether cottaging, hiking or hitting the beach.
Many water-related accidents are preventable. Always wear a properly sized and fitted life jacket when boating; know your abilities as a swimmer and don’t venture beyond your comfort level; use the buddy system; be aware of currents and learn what to do if caught in one; and always supervise children, even in very shallow water.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
With summer comes hot, hot heat! Sunburns can be incredibly painful and very serious. Don’t forget to wear hats, sunglasses and apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply often; make sure to use waterproof sunscreen if you plan to go in the water, but remember it only lasts about 90 minutes when in water.
Keep Cool and Stay Hydrated
With summer heat, it’s also extremely important to keep cool and hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion or stroke. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and pack extra water bottles in a cooler with lots of ice to keep them cold. Find a shady place to rest if you are getting too hot. Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion; excessive thirst, nausea, fainting, cool and clammy skin, weakness, muscle aches, heavy sweating, slow heartbeat and dizziness.
Avoiding Bears and Other Wildlife
Food attracts a variety of critters, so raccoons, skunks and even bears could make an appearance during your trip. Never store scented products or food in your tent; instead, lock it in your car, put it in a separate tent or string it up in a tree if you are camping in the bush. Don’t leave garbage out in the open, store food in airtight containers and clean up immediately after eating - otherwise you may have some unwelcome visitors.
Keeping perishable foods at the appropriate temperature is vital to avoiding illness. Eat fresh foods first and pack them in a cooler using plenty of ice to keep food from spoiling.
Build Campfires Responsibly
Check the official campground website beforehand to determine fire regulations. Use a fire pit if one is available, never leave the fire unattended and remember to fully extinguish it when you are done. If a fire pit is not available, create one well away from tent walls, plants, trees and other flammable objects.
Getting Lost - and Found!
Always tell someone where you are going. Have a set plan with a pre-determined meeting place if you get separated. Packing a whistle, cell phone and compass or GPS are always a good idea. Know what to do when you get lost and you’ll always be found. Adventuresmart.ca is a great resource for information on how to stay safe outdoors.
Protect Against Insects
Prime mosquito-biting hours are usually from dusk to dawn, but ticks are out at all times, so become familiar with insect and tick repellent and apply regularly.
Prepare for the Weather
Check the weather forecast before you pack. Weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to pack for a range of temperatures and rain.
Bring the Right Gear
Plan in advance and bring only certified essentials — you don’t want to be lugging around unnecessary equipment or faulty gear. Don’t forget to pack: a pocketknife, first aid kit, extra clothing, water bottle, flashlight, extra trail food and matches and fire starters.
Whether you’re a first-time camper or experienced explorer, Scouts Canada wants you to make this summer the best one yet. And remember to leave no trace that you were ever there so that the natural world will be there to appreciate for many years to come.