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Camping Rules and Etiquette – Keeping Children Safe
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 The stick is then withdrawn with the tip glowing red hot and spun around so as to do fire writing.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?
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