What's the etiquette? Scouts camping in garden

OK, new one on me here.

Noodling around the front of the house when up comes a troop of scouts, asking if they can camp in the garden.

I was on the point of saying “yes” but the words “Public Liability” suddenly loomed large in my mind and I realised I had no idea if I was potentially biting off more than I could chew.

So, with a lot of regret and feeling decidedly uncharitable, I said no - but what is the etiquette here, if one of them injured themselves on my property would I be liable (yes, I have standard French house/contents insurance).

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That’s a great question. I hope someone comes up with an answer as it’s way beyond my expertise…

Think you were probably right to refuse, apart from the liability issues (yours), who knows what else would be asked- use toilets, bathroom, water etc. Anyway, shouldn’t scouts "be prepared " and already have a campsite organised?


Its a difficult one, friends of ours had some guides ask could they put them up for the night. After saying no they went after the girls and said look ok you can stop, they refused the lift and walked back to the house. Shortly afterwards the marie turned up with the guide leader did an unpromptue interview to make sure all was ok? Any way guides stopped over on a bedroom floor fed and watered and off they went. Not sure i would do it but appears the norm here.

insurance expert is @fabien maybe he has a view…

During summer months, there will be scouts trekking.

Yes, they might well have an overnight site “earmarked” but, depending on how things work … they might well be needing some help.

In such circumstances, our Mairie steps in and finds them a suitable spot.

The scouts have camped quite happily on the pétanque court outside the SdFête, another time in the school yard (where a barn saved them from the worst of a summer storm)…
another year they set up camp on an open space near the Memorial.

They’ve always been well-behaved and left the place clean and tidy.

Had they turned up on my doorstep… yes, I would have wanted to help out… but would have contacted the Mairie for some guidance.

Impracticable this late in the evening, unfortunately.

Why was it impractable ??? … your Maire is always contactable… or certainly should be…
if not his Deputies…

I phone mine when “emergencies” arrive… and scouts late at night would come under that banner.

Evening William, unfortunately the owner is always liable of whatever happens on his land or using his belongings.

For example, you lend you car to someone, they crash it, your NCD will take the hit (not theirs - although the crash will be fully covered).

Same here for your land. Unfortunately you’re liable for anyone that sets foot on your land (even maliciously) and although very rare (luckily) accidents may happen.

Note that you can only be held responsible of issues that have to do with the land like slipping on the ground and sprinkling an ankle or breaking ones wrist. If 2 scouts get into a fight and injure themselves that’s not directly your liability for example although you could still get into problems if the land is remote and someone gets hurt and judge that first aid were too slow to show up.

All that to say that, even if for free, you’re always liable (unfortunately) and cannot get them to sign a document that would opt you out from responsibility (a massive misconception but don’t be fooled, even a discharge from a doctor is almost always worthless - almost).

Hope that helps?


Calling the Mairie would have been a good idea but never forget that most guys in Mairies are “amateurs”. Meaning that they were elected from civil jobs and don’t necessarily know every technical details. Employees (in Mairies) tend to know better as they are permanent but for topic very technical (such as this one) it’s better to be over cautious than not enough. If that’s on your property and even if the Mairie say “they’ll cover it” never trust a public commitment without a written attestation / letter from them because I can assure you that, should sh$$t hit the fan, you may see your friend pool dry out very quickly (unlike your eyes in that case).

It’s a bit cruel in a way but, unless you’re specifically insured for things like that I would advise caution.


I understand what you are saying… and in many cases that is spot on. (certainly, no-one stays on my own property.)

However, thankfully our Maire and his deputies have been at this game for years and are well versed… albeit also knowing when they have to ask advice from “higher up”.

We get pilgrims, scouts… travellers and all sorts… makes a fascinating mix… and we try to feed, water and aid as many as we can.

Billy, please.

Yes, thanks. I’m sure all would have been fine but if not it would clearly be a bigger can of worms than I fancy opening.

I hope that they found somewhere.

It did not even occur to me that the mairie would be contactable out of hours, nothing on the community web site that I can see. Perhaps had I phoned there would have been something recorded (though whether I’d have understood it is another question).

Ah… your Mairie is obviously more “modern” than ours… :wink:

We don’t have a website (yet)… but we seem to be ahead in other ways… :wink:

You might find it useful to discover who to contact out of hours… it could take the panic out of an emergency situation (heaven forbid such should arise).

I forgot to mention that, if you host people for free (not commercially / no finances involved) then your own personal liability would still work (the one from your property insurance that is always included). If that helps :wink:

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Ah… that’s good to know.

Must confess, when I’ve invited pilgrims to eat with us, I’ve not given a thought to insurance…

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We have scouts groups every year. As I posted on another thread, two years ago when there was a drought they burned 10 hectares of woodland. This year they were flooded out and had to take refuge. Mainly in the Salle de Fêtes but we did find a couple of them in our neighbour’s wood store, and many people chipped in with tumble dryers and the like to dry them out.

Round here people let them stay, and often provide some help too. Water, or heating up food and even showers if they are looking too cold and miserable. I’m sure you are all right and according to the law you shouldn’t…but presumably the scouts groups have their own insurance too?

My new favourite expression :see_no_evil::rofl:

I guess like most things in live it comes down to individual situations. My maire is about 30 steps away down the road, I could probably go to the end of the garden and shout him awake if need be, not that he’d be very impressed I’m sure lol, but he takes his role seriously so I suspect ultimately he’d think I’d done the right thing asking, even out of hours, but that’s very much because he’s so near and that sort of chap. But a lot of them do take their role very seriously so even if you can’t/ don’t want to get hold of them personally depending on where you are I often find one of the village lifers if you get friendly with them will think nothing of trying to get Manu on the phone to tell him what he’s doing wrong, so calling the Maire or Secretariat at an ungodly hour is as normal as breathing :joy:

Sounds like scouts have got a bit “soft” recently. Whatever happened to making a bivouac in the forest and backwoods cooking? Probably not PC (or insured)

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I blame it on the priests (?) leading them. No way you can camp out in torrential rain in a big black frock.

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Mine too, is it related to splashing your boots ?

But I kid you not, that was one of the questions my doctor asked when he was trying to decide if I had prostate problems.

Back to the sprouts. I don’t think I have ever seen Boy Scouts, or indeed Girl Guides in France. If they did appear at our gate, I would point them to the large local expanses of open grassland or the nicely kept (by the Community of Communes) area between the camping car place and the river.

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