Turn up the heat: camping in hot weather

Camp 1

We’re loving the gorgeous weather at the moment, but we can’t deny it’s not taken us by surprise! Take a look at our tips for camping in the heat. 

Where possible, it’s a good idea to pitch your tent wherever it’s going to be shady in the morning so you’re not woken too early by hot, bright sunlight (Beaver leaders, try not to laugh). 

Check the direction of prevailing wind and pitch your tent in the same direction so the wind flows through, providing cooling ventilation. During the day, open up the tent as much as possible.

Remember the rules of sun safety: slip on a top, pop on a hat and slop on some sun cream. Make sure everyone’s following these rules, and suggest neckers also be worn with t-shirts to protect necks and shoulders from the sun. 

Have lots of high factor sun cream on hand and encourage your young people to apply this to themselves every 2-3 hours. It’s not appropriate for an adult to do this (other than parents to their own child). Ensure that you’re aware of any allergies to sun cream (ask the question on your Nights Away information form) and get young people with allergies to bring their own cream. 

Ensure a constant, freely available supply of water and/or squash, and have hourly breaks for cold drinks. You also need to give some thought to storing food appropriately on hikes or on camp so it doesn’t go off. For example, if you don’t have a fridge available, you can store bottles of milk in a bucket of cold water in the shade with a wet tea towel covering the top of the bottles. Refresh the water regularly to make sure it stays cold, and freeze a couple of bottles to keep things even colder and fresher for longer. 

Activities should, where possible, take place in the shade or indoors. You should also be prepared to stop, cancel or wind down physical activities as some people will get tired quickly in the heat. 


Be on the look out for any young person who’s being adversely affected by the heat. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are all risks. 


About three-quarters of our bodies are made of water. People can become dehydrated under any conditions, simply by failing to sufficiently replace their natural fluid loss. 

Signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, eyes, and lips, lack of appetite, impatience, lethargy, nausea, headaches, tiredness, dizziness or light-headedness, inability to walk, and delirium. 

To treat dehydration, find a shady area for you or your young person to rest in, drink fluids slowly, keep cool and avoid sweating. 

Heat exhaustion 

Heat exhaustion is caused by a severe loss of water and salt from the body through excessive sweating. It often affects people who aren’t used to the heat but it can also happen to those who are already unwell, especially if they’ve been vomiting or had diarrhoea. 

Signs of head exhaustion include muscle cramps (especially in the arms, legs and abdomen), headaches, dizziness, confusion, cold sweats, clammy skin, nausea and loss of appetite, rapid shallow breathing, and delirium or unconsciousness. 

To treat heat exhaustion, you or your young person should rest in a shaded area with legs propped up. Drink lots of cool liquids, preferably water. Loosen clothing and cool skin with damp cloths or cool water. Ensure you or your young person gets medical attention from a doctor, even after recovery. 


Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which is when someone’s body overheats from too much exposure to the sun or working too hard in a hot environment. Heatstroke requires immediate medical treatment to bring the person’s temperature down, as they are no longer able to regulate their own temperature. 

Signs of heatstroke include hot and/or dry skin, a flushed face and a fever (but with no sweating), a high temperature, a fast pulse, severe headaches, vomiting, and unconsciousness. 

Do not lower a heatstroke victim into cold water. They could go into shock and stop breathing. Don’t cover them in wet towels or blankets. This could prevent their body heat from escaping and raise their temperature even higher. 

By following these tips, you should ensure that your group enjoys a great trip in the sunshine. Enjoy!

Further information can be viewed at scouts.org.uk/safety or for specific activity advice, scouts.org.uk/a-z or look at the general guidance for more summer support.

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