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Old 06-12-2018, 01:14 PM   #1
Terasec's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2016
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Legal question for minors

Can minors under 18 hike/camp alone?
cant find specific regs on such,
everything that requires a signature, such as staying in developed campground, permit for extended stays, etc all require an adult signature,
curious can I go camping with minors, let them loose to camp on their own?
how much supervision is required by law?
reason I ask is been hiking/camping with nieces now 15-17, experienced hikers/campers but would like them to try camping on their own, distancing myself from their experience,

I would stay at basecamp, while they go hike and camp on their own and return the next day
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Old 06-12-2018, 01:43 PM   #2
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I did my first high peaks backpack when I was 17 with my 15 YO friend Mike. No one cared except our parents, who had previously given permission. To define how long ago that was, we spent a night at the Lake Tear Leanto. It was a memorable trip.
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:43 PM   #3
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No idea, but I also did my first week long trip with my peers when I was 16. They were the same age.

We didn't run into many people, but no one ever bothered us about our age.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:15 PM   #4
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I also started camping on my own around 15-16
I used to take a bus to trailheads 2-3 hrs away
Never thought of legality of it
But now its a different world
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:32 PM   #5
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Good question & I’d think it’s a bit of a double edged sword....Let them go out on their own and they could have a great adventure that will be remembered forever... But heaven forbid something goes wrong, and the incident gets investigated back to the adult in charge...
It’s definitely a different world than 20-30-40 years ago.
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Terasec View Post
Can minors under 18 hike/camp alone?
The following is not legal advise,

Can they be on the street or on the bus or in the mall (substitute any public venue) on their own?
If yes, then why can't they camp on their own?

The question comes down to who's in charge and is the person in charge (most likely parent / guardian) OK with them camping alone.

If you're looking to cover your own behind, get the parents to sign a liability waver - that's what most schools do for trips.

Adult signature is required on permits because a minor can not enter into a binding contract under the law...
Feverishly avoiding "a steady stream of humanity, with a view that offers little more than butts, boots, elbows and backsides". (description quote from Joe Hackett)
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:51 AM   #7
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This is all I can find. Under 18 folks cannot register at a campground or get a permit for more than three nights stay at a primitive or designated site on State lands, but the language I find says nothing about an overnight or unpermitted stay. I would contact the ranger for the area where the trip is planned to insure that it is allowed.


190.4 Camping permits
(d) No temporary camping permits will be issued to individuals under 18 years of age.
(190.7 Public Campgrounds
(6)...No person under 18 years of age shall apply for, or be issued a camping permit...)
190.8 General
(q) Unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, no person under 21 years of age shall possess alcoholic beverages. Persons age 21 or over who possess alcoholic beverages must produce adequate identification and proof of age upon demand of any peace or police officer.

The last one implies to me that a person who is under 21 an does n9ot have alcoholic beverages is OK, but I would still call the ranger.
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Old 06-13-2018, 02:46 PM   #8
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not much I can find online
best I can speculate is it is not Illegal until something goes wrong,
then parents/guardian can be charged with criminal negligence
there is no explanation of how much supervision is required,
appears anything beyond arms length is open to legal liability
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:31 PM   #9
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Old 06-21-2018, 04:49 PM   #10
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Never had thought about this before , Started out camping in the back on the farm when we were 8or 9 , was in the Boy scouts back in 65/68 and remember once going for some kind of patch ,not a merit badge that was for 5 nights on your own along with winter camping also . At 15 ,we decided we were too old for scouts in 68 , LOL , but kept up the hiking and camping all 4 seasons with no one ever saying a word except it was better than us hanging around, Hiked the Long trail in Ver. when I was 17 back in 70 I believe ,the rest was eastern NY and Western Mass. . Like I said I never looked at it terms of age restrictions when it came to the outdoors ,but times change and with the powers that be not letting kids grow up till their 25 or so now a days guess we'll have to babysit the youngsters , Though I'd tell them to go ,just leave an idea on where their going to be..
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