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Calamitous campsites

Create chaotic camps and see which campers can sort the silly site sins from the proper practice protocols.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Notepads or paper
  • Camping gear
  • Clipboards, as needed

Before you begin

  • This activity involves setting up a campsite wrongly on purpose, to demonstrate some campsite no-nos. It’s therefore a good idea to do this activity on a weekend camp when you’re all settled in, as you’ll have all the gear you need to hand and plenty of space.
  • Hopefully, everyone should have some idea of what a well set-up campsite should look like!
  • Anyone working towards their Scouts Camper Activity Badge will need to address and discuss the following requirements in some detail throughout this activity. We’ve included a few prompts as reminders.
    • Show that you understand and act on the reasons for hygiene and the importance of being safe and tidy in camp.
    • Show how you store food hygienically at camp.
    • Learn how to dispose of your rubbish safely and responsibly.

Run the activity

  1. Everyone should split into groups. Give each group an area of the campsite to ‘set up.’ This might be the sleeping area, the washing up area, a social campfire area or whatever else you’ve got the gear to set up.
  2. Each group should set up their designated area to demonstrate how that part of the site shouldn’t be set up. This could be done in subtle or obvious ways, though they should take care not to set up something that’s obviously dangerous. Each group should try to have the same number of no-nos, which can be anywhere between 10 and 20, and should make a note of each so that they can fix them all later.
  1. Once the parts of the site have all been prepared, the person leading the activity should go around and advise each group (and each helper/leader) to be careful as they move about the site from that point onward. Remind them that things could be out of place, to move about slowly and to keep their eyes open.
  1. Each group should move around the campsite and try to spot the deliberate mistakes made setting up each part of the site. They should write these down as they go.
  1. Once everyone has explored each area of the campsite, gather together again. Groups should compare notes to see if they found all of the campsite setup mistakes.
  2. Everyone can now discuss how each campsite setup mistake can be fixed or how such a situation might be avoided. They should talk about what an ideal campsite might look like, bearing in mind that camping affects the world around them, not just the campers.
  1. Groups can now reform and return to the areas they set up. They should correct all of the deliberate mistakes that they left before and work to transform them into an ideal, fit-for-purpose area of the campsite, using what was discussed to help.


As they go along, each group should be encouraged to consider how taking ownership and responsibility of a small part of the campsite can help us manage how we spend our time on nights away. Chat as a group about how else you might spread out responsibilities and duties between everyone and what the benefits are of doing so. How might camping with a group allow you to do more activities and go on more adventures safely than you could if camping alone? At the same time, why is it so important that each individual in a group does their bit to make sure that the camp functions as it should?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Heavy and awkward objects

Don’t lift or move heavy or awkward items without help. Break them down into smaller parts if possible.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.