Land Survey with Kids in 5 steps

In your next camping trip, or near your home, a land survey can also become a fun activity with kids, with a little bit of geometry, and little bit of art. Here are the steps to do a simple survey.

1. Select base sites

Choose two base sites (A & B) from which you can take some observations. Our plan was to survey the lake near our camping cottage, but when rain washed out the day, we decided to survey the area around our cottage. The porch of our cottage was site A.

The restroom, which was visible from our cottage, was chosen as site B. We then identified a few other sites of interest – two Yurts which were visible from both A & B. You do not need to go to the sites of interest, they should just be visible from each base site.

2. Measure from site A

Standing at site A, measure the angle between site B, and the points of interest.

We used a regular camera tripod to measure the angles. Our tripod had a sighting tube, as well as a disk marked at 10 degree intervals. If you don’t have a tripod, a thin hollow tube can be fixed on a marked cardboard disk to make a DIY sextant.

3. Measure from site B

Now walk over to site B with your equipment. We walked twenty yards with an umbrella, but if it had not been raining and we were surveying the lake instead, this would have been a hike from one lookout on the lake to another. Measure the angle between site A, and the points of interest. You now have enough information to make a to-scale replica of points A, B and the points of interest.

4. Scale Drawing

  • Draw points A and B on the drawing sheet, using your judgement about how large you want the drawing.
  • Draw the lines from A towards each point of interest, using your notes on the angles and a protractor.
  • Repeat the same from B. The points of interest will be where these lines intersect.

5. Fill in details

Once the points of interest are located on the drawing sheet using geometry, draw whatever other details you want to add. Here you bring your artistic side out.

This was the final version of our camping cottage survey. We filled in the asphalt road in black, the gravel in ochre-yellow, and the forest floor in green. Next time we are going for the lake.