Make your camping trip a learning moment that kids can carry with them into adulthood. This is the time to teach them the practical outdoor safety basics and make them into a routine.
1. Get the kids to check the weather before you leave and to report and discuss what to expect.
2. Help the kids put together a personal checklist and to assemble their own small backpack with minimal survival gear. Include one day’s water, some energy bars, a warm outer garment (preferably waterproof), a compact space blanket, a small LED flashlight and a whistle. A fully charged cell phone is good if there’s service. Insist that they always carry their own pack.
3. Impress upon the kids that nobody ever hikes alone.
4. Have a plan and have the kids review what they must do if they should get lost or separated—stop; stay put; stay dry; signal with their whistle every five minutes until located.
5. Make them responsible for sunscreen and bug spray. (But carry a spare supply!)
1. Make a plan and stick to it. Always check the weather before leaving. Don’t arrive at your campsite after dark.
2. Carry a map and a compass. Even wilderness experts get lost. A hand-held GPS is great but not so great if the batteries run down or you drop it in a creek.
3. Carry adequate clothing for sudden and surprising changes in the weather. Your outer shell should be rain proof. Avoid cotton garments—wool or synthetics will keep you warm even when wet.
4. Carry enough emergency rations for everyone in the group in the event of the unforeseen.
5. Carry a first aid kit.
6. On a hike, adults always take point and tail-end Charlie—kids in between. Never let them out of sight and on the trail keep distances between hikers to a maximum of 10-15 steps.
7. At the beach, kids never go near the water without a parent close by, too. Familiarize yourself with the threat of rogue waves—nobody goes on the rocks anywhere near the surf. Familiarize yourself with currents and tidal conditions before any playing, even at the water’s edge.
8. The chance of a dangerous encounter with wildlife is very small but bears, cougars, wolves and coyotes do share B.C., so be aware. You can review safety guidelines at the BC Parks wildlife safety website: bcparks.ca/explore/wild_gen.html
9. While hiking, a light tarp and parachute cord is a good idea for quick shelter in an emergency.
10. Make sure somebody knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Be realistic about your schedule—kids will want time to explore.