Some Tips and Advice for Campers

Some Helpful tips for Camping this Summer


               With the amazing run of weather that we are presently having many people will use this time to get out and camp with their friends and families. As people across the country flee cities for the relaxation of a camp site here are a few tips on how to stay safe wile communing with nature. No matter where in Canada you’re pitching a tent, they say a little planning goes a long way.


Unpredictable Weather

              When considering whether to go camping it is always advised to check the long term forecast for the area you are planning to attend. Inclement weather can crop up quickly and unexpectedly. Always become oriented with the campsite when you arrive much the same way you would in a hotel room. It is important to scope out the safety plan during the calm of a sunny day where there is no threatening weather, therefore if it hits at 2 am you are prepared.

              In thunder and lightning storms the safest spot to be is in a car with an all metal roof. If that’s not an option then going further into the woods is another advisable course of action. Your tent which has metal poles is not advisable as this increases the danger. Just make sure to steer clear of the tallest tree. If you are in a flat area it is a good idea to sit crossed legged in a low – lying area, but not a ditch, as the ditch will collect more water allowing lightning strikes in the surrounding area to travel farther.

Don’t Camp Alone

              Parks Ontario suggests making sure someone is aware of where you are at all times. That way, if you get lost, they’ll have a better chance of tracking you down. It is often a good idea to bring a cell phone as well, especially since phones aren’t just phones anymore and can often double as a GPS. Another smart accessory is a whistle as well as having the campsite’s name and number on hand. Also always have an exit or emergency plan just in case something goes awry. Try to plan routes that are near more accessible roads, and if you own one a handheld GPS is another good idea in case there is no cell reception.


              According to public health agencies, there are known tick populations in parts of Ontario. The best way to avoid playing host to a tick is to wear light clothing that covers the skin, footwear and socks that cover the feet, use repellent with DEET, and pay close attention to the groin, armpit, and scalp areas at the end of the day to ensure no ticks are present.

Sun Protection

              Camping and hiking trips call for extended periods of time in the sun. It is always important to bring broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply it often. Remember just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean its UV rays are not still affecting you. It is possible to get sunburnt on an overcast day.

Picking your Campground

              When picking your campground there are many factors to pay attention to. First of all determine how far you want to drive and the direction you wish to go in. Secondly determine what activities you want to do and campground amenities you wish to have. Visit one of the multitude of websites that list campgrounds and their amenities. Look through this information and determine which campground suits your needs. From here make a reservation by phone or through the campgrounds website.

Here are a few common campgrounds definitions:

Overnight Campsite – this is a campsite that is used for a short stay

Seasonal Campsite – this is a campsite that you rent for the entire season

Cottage Rental – Generally have a kitchen with pots, pans, dishes, and a washroom in the unit

Cabin Rentals – Generally have a basic kitchen with water and beds, may also come with an outdoor barbecue

Trailer Rentals – many campgrounds have RV trailers for rent in their campgrounds

Comfort Station – these are washrooms located throughout campgrounds, usually containing a washroom and shower facilities.

Campfires and Firewood

              When arriving at the campground the first question should be if there are any fire bans or restrictions currently in place. Do not bring firewood with you to the park, buy firewood from the campground as moving firewood can spread invasive species. Bringing your own firewood when you travel to or from your favourite campsite could threaten and destroy thousands, even millions of tress. Firewood for sale at campsites might be more expensive however the campground will ensure that the wood is safe and conveniently available.

              Most campsites will have a designated fire pit available, if this is the case please use the fire pit as it is a safer space to hold the fire. To start a fire you will need at least 4 things; Tinder such as shredded newspaper, cardboard or small sticks. Kindling, traditionally sticks smaller than one inch around. Larger pieces of wood and matches or a lighter. From here loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of the fire pit and use on of the agreed upon methods for piling up the kindling. First is the tepee method where kindling is placed over the tinder like you are building a tent. Second is the lean – to method where a long piece of kindling is driven into the ground at an angle over the tinder and smaller pieces are leant against the larger piece. The third method is that of the log cabin, where the tinder is surrounded with kindling stacking the pieces in a square formation, then topping the cabin with the smallest kindling.

              Once the fire is built, ignite the tinder with a match or lighter. As the fire grows continue to add tinder accordingly. Blow lightly at the base of the fire to encourage the spread of the flames. As the fire reaches an acceptable size maintain it with kindling and firewood. Always keep the fire small and under control. Now that we have built the fire we need to keep it and ourselves safe. Never leave the fire unattended, before you go to bed or leave your campsite always put the fire out with a bucket of water. Make sure children and pets are supervised at all times when near the fire. Never burn pressurized cans, glass, or aluminum cans.

Camping Etiquette

              Well now that we know how to pick a campsite and start a camp fire how about we look at some of the etiquette that is appreciated when visiting one of these campsites. Do not walk through other campsites, even if it would make it easier to get to washrooms or other park locations. Keep your pet on a leash at all times and be sure to pick up after your dog and dispose of the waste properly. Be mindful when using a radio, always observe radio free zones and take the time to ask if the radio is a nuisance for your campsite neighbours. Try and minimize noise around the campfire late at night. Everyone enjoys sitting around the fire however please be courteous of other campers that might be sleeping. Always clean up your campsite and never leave trash. The smell attracts wildlife while you sleep or leave your site. Raccoons or other critters, can be very noisy and will make a mess dragging trash throughout the park. Dispose of your waste in park provided garbage bins and recycling containers. Wash dishes at your campsite and dump any remaining waste in the waste vault or park provided location.

              Take the time to introduce yourself to you camping neighbours. This helps with campsite security while you are away from your site and may come in handy if you forgot any items at home like sugar or sunblock. If it is your first time camping advise the campground so that they can give you some quick tips to help you during your stay. When making your reservation tell the camp owner or operator the size of your party so that you are put in a section of the campground that will accommodate your size. If you are not familiar with the rules and regulations always inquire as to what they are. These rules and regulations are in place so that each guest has an enjoyable stay at the campground. Please always remember that you are a guest in the woods and that you are in native animals homes. Respect the animals and do not feed them or approach any wild animals!

              As always if more information is needed there are many websites from Ontario Parks to camping Ontario that have all of the information in greater detail. We at HRC just want you to be safe and have a great summer while out camping with your friends and family.


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Born under the name George Hutcheson, Hutcheson, Reynolds & Caswell Ltd. began providing insurance policies in Muskoka since the early 1900s. Bernard Reynolds joined the firm in the 1940s and purchased the firm from George Hutcheson in 1967. Finally, in 1980, David Caswell joined the company's ranks to complete Hutcheson, Reynolds and Caswell. We have grown along with our name and provide the same dedication to superior customer service and top-notch insurance coverage that George Hutcheson was famous for over 100 years ago.