Small, intimate camping trips can be fun, but there’s nothing quite like a big group camping trip for really making memories. Unfortunately, planning them can also easily turn into a logistics nightmare unless you’ve got some help with the coordination. That’s what we’re here for. Here are a few tips and tricks that can make your group camping trip one you’ll remember — in a good way — for years to come.
Prelude — How Many People Are Coming?
The first thing you need to figure out is how many people are going to be attending this big group trip. The number of people and their camping experience will affect everything from how much food you buy to where you can camp. A lot of campsites, especially those with nearby amenities like water and bathrooms, might not be equipped to handle large parties.
Step 1 — Pick Your Campsite
Now that you have a headcount in mind, where you do you want to stay? This will vary depending on your location, as well as the season and the kind of activities you want to include in your festivities.
For warmer months, lakeside camping can be great. Not only do you usually have a lot of space to work with, but there are tons of water-based activities you can plan. Many waterfront campsites actually cater to trips like these, and they will have things like floating docks where you can swim and play, or even big toys like jet skis to rent.
For colder weather camping, look for sites with a lot of trees or other brush to break some of the cold wind, and also areas where you’re allowed to build campfires — there’s nothing quite like some hot coffee or cocoa by the fire while you’re roughing it out in the woods.
Make sure you call ahead to ensure your chosen campsite can host your whole party. One nice thing about big group camping trips is that you usually qualify for cheaper group rates on your campsite!
Step 2 — Assign Responsibilities
Don’t try to organize an entire group camping trip on your own — you’ll go crazy and probably end up forgetting something important like toilet paper. Instead of leaving your group members to wipe with leaves, gather a few friends or colleagues you trust and assign them some responsibilities.
Have one person in charge of gear, one in charge of food and another in charge of the campsite — or something like that. Delegate and work together to make this trip go smoothly.
Step 3 — Buy All The Food
Camping is hard work, and you’ll often find yourself eating more than you would at home. This is fine, as long as you have enough food for everyone. Stock up and buy more than you think you’ll need. You can always take the leftovers home and eat them, or store the non-perishables for your next camping trip.
Focus on foods you can cook in bulk, like eggs, if you’re planning on doing group meals, or provide a selection if people are going to make their own meals.
Before you buy your food, make sure you do a poll to see if there are any food allergies or other dietary needs you need to be concerned about. You don’t have to go vegan for one or two people who don’t want to eat meat, but it’s always nice to accommodate when and where you can.
Step 4 — Safety Is Key
One thing you will have to keep reminding yourself is that not everyone will have the same camping experience or skill levels. Primitive camping is great if you enjoy it, but if you’ve got first-timers in your midst, you might end up turning them off of camping forever. Be aware of the experience levels of your group members. If possible, try to get some of the more experienced campers to help the newbies.
As long as you’ve got enough beds and food for everyone, group camping can be a great way to make friends, reinforce existing friendships and disconnect from the busy world for a while. Good preparation is essential, though, so make sure you’ve got all your t’s crossed and your i’s dotted before you head out into the woods!
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington