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Safe camping, happy camping

Summer is upon us and Scouts across the UK are getting ready to go on their summer camps. Camping is one of the single most important activities that Scouts take part in but is, statistically, one that can result in a large number of accidents.

Follow some quick tips to get you thinking about how you can improve your camp safety.

Vehicles on site

Control the speed of vehicles. Supervise the access of vehicles and pedestrians  to ensure that they are not at risk.


Pitch tents as far apart as possible to reduce the risk of tripping and to prevent the spread of fire, should it occur. Sleeping tents should be at least two metres apart, and cooking tents at least five metres away from other tents. To reduce the risk of fire, naked flames and smoking should not be permitted inside tents. 

Slips, trips and falls

These are the most common cause of accidents on a campsite. Look around your campsite to see what you can do to prevent them. Instruct people about the hazard that guy ropes create and ensure that any awkwardly placed ropes or pegs are clearly marked.


Control the size of your fire and do not use petrol or other highly flammable liquids to light it. Ensure that altar fires are stable and are at the appropriate height for users.

Ensure that flammable liquid stoves are not refilled, and that gas containers are not replaced while stoves are alight.

Instruction in safe cooking practices, including basic hygiene is essential. Burns and scalds are one of the most frequent accidents that happen at camp. 

Obtain food from reputable sources and store foods at the correct temperatures. Avoid uncooked and reheated food and ensure that meat dishes are thoroughly cooked. Cooks should wash and dry their hands frequently during preparation and serving.


To avoid stomach upsets, the importance of washing and drying hands after using the toilet and frequently at camp cannot be over emphasized.

E. Coli 0157

Caution needs to be taken at sites where there are or may have been grazing animals. Follow the recommendations given in the Factsheet FS120626 Avoiding ill health at camp. (Add link http://shop.scouts.org.uk/p-5183-avoiding-ill-health-at-camp.aspx)

Wood cutting

Beware of splinters, flying wood chippings and swinging axe heads. Ensure that stout footwear is worn and only permit the use of axes in a designated chopping area.


Leaders should ensure that risk assessments have been carried out and that any activity is run in accordance with POR.


Scouting, especially at camp, should be fun, exciting, stimulating and challenging as well as being as safe as possible. Remember, good training is the basis of safe Scouting. 


Keep a watchful eye on young people at your camp and know when to intervene in order to prevent an accident.


Seek advice from the landowner or site warden on disposal of waste on your site during the planning stage.

Our thanks to David Kennedy for his original writings on this subject.



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