Preparing for a week or weekend away with your Scout group or Guide Unit is no mean feat, with activities to plan and equipment to organise. But actually getting to the site, setting up camp and setting off at the end can throw unexpected challenges your way.
Unity has been the insurance provider for Scout camps and activities for more than 80 years, so has gathered quite a record of accidents associated with camping. We’d like to share some of the knowledge we’ve gained over time, so you can get to and from your campsite in safety.
Assess the risks
Before you head off, carry out a risk assessment for the journey, the campsite and all planned activities. The leader in charge should coordinate safety to make sure all other leaders and participants are aware of the risks and have suitable controls in place. Be ready to make a new plan if conditions change from the initial risk assessment. This not only protects the group and covers the leaders, but also teaches the young people about managing danger.
With all the excitement of arriving at a new campsite and the prospect of pitching tents, it’s easy to forget the potential hazards. And they can pop up right from the start.
- Take care when opening manual vehicle barriers – they’ve been known to come down on people and cars – and report any faults to the site staff.
- When unloading equipment, be sure to lift heavy items properly and get help when necessary. Share loads and even better, use a trolley if you have one. Don’t let an eager young Beaver try hauling a patrol tent on their own!
- Do not allow anyone to ride on or walk besides the kit trailers. We had a report of kit falling from the cart and severely injuring a young child, and another of an adult whose foot was run over, resulting in several broken toes.
- Control your speed when driving around the site, and supervise access points to ensure no passers-by are at risk.
While at camp
For safety tips, while at camp, check our our blog "Safety on site: how to avoid campsite calamities"
Packing up presents many of the same hazards as pitching, but now you are tired and desperate to get home for a wash! This makes it even more essential to take care of yourself and others when striking camp. The journey home will feel much longer, but you’ll be looking forward to that first shower and a comfortable night’s sleep. Here are a few top tips for staying safe on the road home:
- Secure all your kit very carefully, especially if you have a roof rack. We’ve heard of entire canoes coming off the tow trailer, damaging neighbouring cars or even disappearing unnoticed.
- Keep your car or minibus well serviced and check the tyre pressures are correct for the load you are carrying.
- If you have a long journey, share the drive or break it into shorter stages. Best of all have a fresh driver that hasn’t been on camp, if possible.
Read our advice on summer driving for more travel tips "Steer safely through summer".
Further advice and information
We hope this guide will come in handy the next time you head for the countryside, but this is not an exhaustive list of advice and our team are on hand to talk through your travel plans.
You can also visit the Scouts' Camping and Practical Skills web page for further guidance.