Girl sitting on chair near a fire

Basic Camping Rules

A safe camping trips means everyone comes home happy and healthy. Follow basic camping rules to stay safe while you have a great time exploring all the wonder of the outdoor world.


  • Be well-prepared – Have a gear checklist for camping. Check off items as they are packed so you are organized and well-prepared. Use the checklist to pack up at the end of the camp trip and to keep track of items that need to be replaced.
  • Have reservations – Many campsites require reservations. Make sure you find out the registration and check in procedure so you have a campsite available when you arrive.
  • Bring essential paperwork – Have your drivers license, auto insurance documents, proof of registration, automobile club paperwork, campsite confirmation documents, health insurance cards and other basic essential paperwork in a secure place so you can easily access them when needed.
  • Have a means of communication -Take advantage of modern technology. Have a cell phone and charger so you can contact someone if there is an emergency along the way. If you have a laptop and GPS, these are helpful for finding places and mapping your route.
  • Know where you are going – Avoid shortcuts and strange routes that could be dangerous. Stay on the main roads and plot your course before you leave so everyone feels secure during the road trip.

Food Storage and Handling

  • When in doubt, throw it out – If it smells, looks or tastes funny, get rid of it. Nobody wants to be sick or have food poisoning during an outdoor camp trip.
  • Keep everything in sealed containers – Make sure all foods are stored in sealed containers and zipped plastic baggies so it stay fresh and does not attract animals and insects.
  • Don’t store food where you sleep – Never store food where you sleep as it can attract animals. Keep food away from your tent or camper in sealed containers.
  • Throw out food scraps and wrappers right away – Do not leave food scraps and crumbs around the campsite. Bag them up and throw them in a designated camp trash area right away so they do not attract wildlife to your campsite.

Waste Management

  • Keep garbage far away from your sleeping area – Campgrounds typically have designated trash areas with regular pickups. Bag up your garbage and bring it to the trash area immediately so bugs and animals are not attracted to your campsite.
  • Never litter – Littering attracts unwanted pests and ruins the beauty of the environment. Always bring trash bags and get rid of your garbage.

Fire Safety

  • Keep fires contained – Use a designated fire area such as a pit, metal pan or bucket so fires do not spread. Exercise caution with fuels such as propane.
  • Have water and sand handy – Keep a bucket of water and sand nearby to douse fires if necessary.
  • Use approved wood for fires – Certain areas have rules regarding the wood you can use for fires because of local insects. Find out if you can bring wood from the outside or if you have to purchase wood for fires in the area.
  • Set up fires in designated areas – Most campgrounds have designated areas for fires. Never set up a fire in a tent or near a tent as it is very dangerous. Do not build fires near tree branches, grass, leaves or bushes that could go up in flames.
  • Put out fires immediately – Never leave a fire burning. Completely put out fires before leaving the campsite or going to sleep.

Emergency Preparations

  • Have a first aid kid – Bring along a waterproof box with bandages, aspirin, antiseptics, gauze, sunscreen, insect repellent, scissors and tweezers to take care of minor emergencies.
  • Know where the nearest medical assistance is – Find out the exact location of the first aid center at the campgrounds. Know where the nearest hospital is in case of emergencies.
  • Have survival skills – Bring basic emergency supplies to handle any situation including bottled water, energy bars, tarp, whistle, blankets, waterproof matches, flashlights, a compass, knife, and a weather radio to monitor outdoor conditions.

Campsite Inspection

  • Familiarize yourself with all water supplies – Campgrounds typically have designated water supplies and areas for washing, bathing and drinking. Know where to get water for all purposes and how to dispose of it after use.
  • Inspect your campsite – Look for a campsite where you can safely set up cooking areas and shelter. Avoid campsites with poisonous plants, insect nests, uneven or muddy terrain and dead branches overhead.
  • Be aware of the weather – Know the weather conditions so you can always stay dry and warm. If severe weather conditions are approaching, know when to leave camp and head home. Should lightening occur, stay away from metal objects including tent frames and fencing.
  • Be aware of campground rules – Most campgrounds have designated hours for noise, lights and generator operation. Be aware of the campground rules so you do not violate them and disturb other campers. Find out the designated areas for parking.
  • Stay away from wildlife – Part of the joy of camping is observing wildlife. Enjoy wildlife from afar without approaching it. When you give food and attention to wildlife, it creates pests and disrupts the delicate balance of nature.
  • Have a buddy system – Campers of all ages should observe a buddy system. Go hiking, swimming and exploring in pairs so you always have a backup system for help.
  • Discuss the rules with children – Let children know the importance of fire safety and following the rules during camp trips. Discourage rough housing and other horseplay that can cause injuries to occur far from home.
  • Leave the campsite clean – Have respect for the world around you and leave the campsite clean for the next visitors. Get rid of garbage, pack up everything and make sure fires are out.

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