How to Camp Safely Near Water

Five Simple Ground Rules: Just Think W-A-T-E-R

The snow is just about gone and spring is starting to wake up from an extra long nap on the prairies. My family has just moved to Calgary from Vancouver in the past year and have learned that summers in Wild Rose Country are dusty. There’s a reason everyone has a pickup, trailer AND boat in Alberta - weekends were meant for camping and escapes to the lake.

With our oldest turning 4 this spring, I thought it would be great to get some man time in and go on some weekend adventures exploring the parks of our new province. I expect that camping with my son will fill him with a wild sense of adventure. The big open spaces will urge him to run, the wilderness will beg him to explore and the big open waters will want him to dive in.

5 ground rules need to be set and they’re easy to remember. Just think W-A-T-E-R.

Wait Until An Adult Is Near
No matter who is going in (or near) the water, dock, pool, pond or pier they need to make sure an adult is near to supervise.

Always Have a Buddy
Since it’s just my son and I, the rule will be he can’t go anywhere near the water (or away from the campsite) without me. If you have older kids who can handle some free range roaming, make sure they never do it alone.

Take a Tour
Whether it’s a new secret spot or grandma’s cabin that you’ve visited every year of their life, take a tour of the camp area with your kids. Use the tour to establish boundaries and highlight hazards they should be aware of and avoid. If there’s a pier or cliff, point out that diving into unfamiliar water is unsafe.

Emergency Equipment On Hand
While my son has taken swimming lessons, he is by no means a swimmer. We’ll be sure to pack his water wings and life jacket before we head out to the site. A first aid kit with other supplies in case of accident is also a good idea.

Red Cross
The Red Cross is very active in water safety. They are a great place for your kids to get swimming lessons and for you to get more information about CPR or even to take a course.

Most drownings in Canada are adult males or children under 4. That puts my son and I right in the target of the demographic to experience a problem on or near the water. By stopping and taking a tour, staying together, packing properly and educating ourselves we’ll be sure to have a safe summer of camping on the lakes all across Alberta.

Buzz Bishop is a Dad. Broadcaster. Writer. Media Disruptor. Runner. And YMC’s Daddy Buzz blogger.

He lives in Calgary, where he is a radio host at XL103.

In addition to YMC, Buzz contributes to a variety of blogs scattered across the web.  He is the social media and lifestyle writer at Tech! Yeah a blog at

He also has his own roster of personal publications.  The Blog According to Buzz is filled with personal musings, cyberbuzz is home to his thoughts on new media and technology, DadCAMP is more parenting stuff.