Weather Safety: Summer Camp Edition

Ah, summer camp. So many great memories are made year after year at thousands of camps across the country. Into wilderness exploration? There’s a camp for that. Into STEM? Yep, there are tons of camps for that too. What about if you want to be a ninja? Yes, there’s even a camp for that. No matter what your kid’s interests are (or yours, if you’re still in the camp age range), there’s a summer camp for them.

However, there’s always one factor that can put a damper on camp: the weather. It pays to be prepared for any type of weather situation while away at camp, so here are some safety guidelines to follow in case of an emergency:


  • If a severe storm is producing large hail stones, seek sturdy shelter and stay away from windows.

Severe Thunderstorm Straight-Line Winds

  • If a severe thunderstorm warning contains hurricane-force wind speeds, seek shelter immediately.
  • Stay away from windows and go to an interior room in a nearby building.
  • Be aware that tall trees near a building can be uprooted by straight-line winds – that tree can come crashing through the roof of a building and cause injury or death.


  • Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or a pre-designated shelter. Go to the lowest level of the building, preferably a basement of some sort, and get under a heavy desk or sit next to the wall and cover your head with your arms/hands.
  • If caught outside, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. Remember, in tornado situations debris likes to settle in roadside ditches or other low spots. If heavy rains are falling in the area, ditches and low spots may quickly flood. Therefore, laying down in a ditch may not be your best choice.


  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Lightning can travel 5-10 miles away from the thunderstorm and strike the ground with blue sky overhead. The storm doesn’t have to be overhead in order for you to be struck.
  • Move to a sturdy shelter or vehicle. Do not take shelter in a small shed, under isolated trees, or in a convertible-top vehicle. Stay away from tall objects such as trees or towers or poles.
  • If you’re in a vehicle when lightning strike, don’t touch a metal surface. You are safer in a vehicle than being outdoors.
  • Remember that utility lines or pipes can carry the electrical current underground or through a building. Avoid electrical appliances, and use telephones or computers only in an emergency.
  • 30/30 rule: If the time between lightning and thunder is 30 seconds or less, go to a safe shelter. Stay there until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder

Flash Floods

  • If you are camping in a river valley, move to higher ground if thunderstorms with heavy rains are in the area. Do not attempt to drive away.

General Safety Tips

  • Develop a disaster plan if you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time outdoors.
  • Identify a safe place to take shelter in case of bad weather.
  • When in doubt, move indoors.
  • Know the county you’re in and where you are in that county. The National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings on a county basis.
  • Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and back-up batteries.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors. Watch for signs of approaching storms.

Other Resources

Red Cross emergency preparedness kit:

Red Cross preparedness for any type of emergency:

Montem Outdoor Gear– How to Make a Survival Kit: A Complete Checklist:

Have you ever been caught outside in a storm or have any tips on how to stay safe outdoors? Tell us below! If you want to learn more about summer camp weather safety, check out AMHQ Weekend and Weekend Recharge every Saturday morning starting at 7 AM all summer long to get camp safety tips.