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Best Campsite Layout for Camping with Kids
When you are camping with kids your campsite layout will also play a part in camp safety. The right layout makes any tent camping trip more enjoyable.
Sometimes you have complete flexibility and can layout your campsite however you want, – but many times you may be restricted by pre-established areas, like an in-place fire-ring or BBQ pit.
Every base-camp has certain areas:
a latrine, (even if it’s camp site bathrooms)
a trash and gray-water area
And then there are the extras:
an activity area(s)
wood chopping area
General Campsite Layout with a Non-cooking Campfire:
First: Your campfire will probably be the focal point of the campsite, so for that reason, and for safety, it should be in the center of your open area, (as in placement #3), or close to it.
Tip: If you do not have a fire-ring for your campfire, encircle it with rocks or large pieces of firewood, to form a boundary that will keep unwary toes out of the embers.
Tents: Ideally you want the tent entrances facing into the campsite and the campfire, – but you want to have them “down-wind” of the campfire so they don’t get filled with smoke, (as in tent placement #1), if possible. If not, then the tents can be angled, (as in #2), so the entrances almost open to the center of the campsite, but not so directly that they will fill with smoke.
Picnic Table: Again, a focal point of the campsite that will get plenty of activity. It should be between the camp kitchen or cooking area, and the campfire, (as in #4), so that kids don’t have to be in and out of that area.
A camp cooler with beverages and snacks should also be somewhere near the picnic table, (as in #12).
The idea is to reduce kid traffic around the camp kitchen and storage area as much as possible – and keep their energies focused around the center of the campsite – where there should be less for them to get into, or trip over.
Camp Kitchen: This will be a very active place around meal times, and is best placed on the edge of the campsite’s open area, (as in #5). Camp food storage and trash collection will also be in this area, (#7 & #11) – for easy access – but not in the way of other camp activities.
You will also need a gray-water hole, (a place to dump dish water, and other non-food liquids), a little further from the camp kitchen than the regular trash is. As placed in #6.
The idea is to have all storage, cooking and clean-up areas consolidated to one segment of the campsite, easily accessible, but not in the major traffic patterns of the campsite that the kids will be using. **Note: Do not put food scraps in the gray-water hole, it will draw animals into your camp. If you cannot get food scraps and trash out of camp each night, – then burn the food scraps in your campfire so they don’t act as bait for bears and other wildlife.
Tip: If your kids are under 8 years-old, consider using ropes and stakes to enclose this area and mark it as “out-of-bounds” for the kids. Tie strips of cloth or paper towels, (if you are not expecting rain), on the ropes as flags to make them more visible.
The Latrine – Bathroom: If you are camping in a primitive tent camping site, or if the campsite bathrooms are a long way off, you will need to have a latrine. It should be in the opposite direction of the camp kitchen and food prep areas, near the tent areas. Not too close, – but not too far away either. (as in #8 & #9) You want it far enough away to keep odors out of camp, but not so far away that you need to pack a lunch to get there.
Tip: With young kids in camp, a portable camp toilet will make your life a lot easier.
No interruptions for a long trip to the campsite bathrooms, and no “scary” after dark trips to the latrine in the woods.
General Campsite Layout with a Cooking Campfire:
If you will be cooking on your campfire, you will want the campfire and picnic table to swap places, (#3 & #4), as in the diagram above.
Note: The above diagram is not representative of the distances separating things, it is only meant to illustrate approximate placements.
If you will be doing a lot of cooking on your campfire, the proper layout will make it easier.
Here is an example of a “Key-hole” Campfire Layout that works great.