Setting Up Your Tent Site & Leaving Camp
Being organized at the campsite will mean fewer problems and more time to relax, unwind and explore. Knowing how to set up your tent before you arrive is a must. Practice at home, watch a video online and have the instructions handy upon arrival at the campsite (some tents will have instructions attached to a flap or printed on the tent bag).
OK – you have your spot, and you are ready to unload the car and/or backpacks. Now what?
Setting Up Your Tent Campsite
Tent area: Many campsites have set areas for tents. If not, or if you have room to play with, pick a spot with some shade and try to locate a flat and smooth surface (not at the bottom of a slope where water can collect.) Clear the ground of any rocks and twigs and keep in mind where the tent opening will be and proximity to the road to avoid car headlights beaming down on you. For added shade and wind protection, pitch a separate awning or tent extension and invest in some strong pegs.
Cooking area: Use the designated pit for your campfire or choose an area away from the tent. Make sure there are no trees overhead, and there is a space to move back in case of flying embers. Keep your food locked up tight and safe in the trunk of a vehicle or tie it up in a tree. Use a bear-proof bag or canister if the risk of a bear encounter is real. NEVER keep food in your tent or leave food unattended. (Note that food storage guidelines will vary from park to park.)
Cleaning area: Campgrounds typically have washing up stations. Don’t use bathrooms or drinking fountains (yes, people do this!) to do your dishes. Be mindful of the flora and fauna; use scent-free bio-degradable soap and only dump gray water in designated areas or well away from the campsite where it will do no harm (rocky areas are preferred).
Bathroom area: If there are designated toilets in the campground use these and/or a portable camping toilet (often handy for small children). Otherwise find a spot at least 200 feet from camp/trails and water areas and dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep to bury any waste. Place paper in a waste bag to pack out and cover up the hole. Of course, find out before heading into recreation site trails the regulations on human waste disposal. More information on human waste disposal can be found at Leave No Trace Canada.
Packing Up Camp
- Double-check that all fires are out. Click here for wildfire safety and prevention tips.
- Sweep out the tent. If the tent is wet, set it up to dry out once you arrive home to prevent mold from forming.
- Dust off gear as you put it away.
- Clean and rinse out any waste and water from coolers.
- Put garbage in proper bins or double bag it to make sure it doesn’t leak if it’s leaving with you.
- Once the tent and gear are packed away do a final walk around the area, check for pegs possibly left in the ground and don’t forget your mallet!
- Pack it in, pack it out – meaning, what comes with you goes with you, and leave the campsite as you found it, or better!