Scouts' Festival Survival Guide - Part 2: Tents



Scouts plan ahead – so practise pitching your tent before you do it for real (you’ll thank us if it’s raining) and check you aren’t missing any parts.

Arrive early to find the best pitch: flat, dry ground, free of stones, roots and animal activity – you don’t want to camp near an ant’s nest or fox’s den.

Pitch perfect

Space is at a premium on a festival site but don’t be tempted to camp directly beneath pylons or trees – particularly beech trees, which have a tendency to drop branches. And never set up camp at the bottom of a hill; if it rains you’ll be flooded out.

Try to take advantage of shelter and protection provided by natural features or windbreaks such as lines of trees and hedgerows. ‘Choose somewhere a reasonable distance from the loos, close to a water tap and an obvious landmark so you’ll remember where your tent is,’ adds Katie Farnish, Marketing Assistant for Scout Activity Centres.

Tent techniques

Take a mallet: wooden for wooden pegs, rubber for metal pegs, along with multiple spare pegs. Plastic tent pegs are preferable if you know the ground is going to be wet. To minimise trip hazards – a common cause of campsite injuries – pack reflective guy lines (or white tags to tie on regular guy lines) so they are visible at night to you and your fellow festival goers.

Position your tent entrance facing away from prevailing wind to stop draughts. ‘Put tent pegs in at 45-degree angles – if the ground is solid, soak with water to make it easier,’ recommends Katie. Once your tent is up, close all the doors and peg out the rest of your pegging points and guy lines. Don’t do it with doors open or you won’t be able to zip them shut.

If you haven’t got lightweight roll mat or inflatable camping mattress, dig a hip hole before laying out your groundsheet – this relieves pressure on your hip bone and makes for a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Campsite layout

Festivalling with a gaggle of pals? Use Scout know-how to organise your mini canvas city. You're often packed in like proverbial sardines but if there's space, set up a central area for socialising, emergency access, sorting out stores and so on. ‘Make sure you leave enough space for a walk way in to your area so not to trip over guy ropes and pegs every time you leave your tent to go to the loo. Also make sure that there is a sensible distance between the tents and the cooking area,’ adds Katie.


Scout Skills: Campsite Layout & Selection Information Sheet, free to download; Scout Backpacker Tent, £50; Gelert mini folding shovel, £6.50; Octagonal shaped wooden mallet, £9.50; Gelert rubber mallet and tent peg remover, £3; Yellowstone lightweight insulated roll mat, £6.25.

The Scout Association currently has over 37,000 young people on its waiting lists so if you’d like to carry on the festival spirit, why not consider becoming an adult volunteer?

For more timeless Scouting advice check out Be Prepared – How to light a wet match and 199 other useful things to know (published by Simon & Schuster and available for £9.99 at Scout Shops).


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Index: The Scouts' Festival Survival Guide

Part 1 - What to take and how to pack

Part 2 - How and where to pitch a tent

Part 3 - How to navigate the festival site

Part 4 - Stay warm, dry and un-burnt 

Part 5 - Essentials: from mosh pits to long drops

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