The 11 Step Guide to Planning a Problem-free Group Camping Trip
By Alex Gulsby
If you have ever attempted to coordinate a trip with friends or family, you know how difficult the process can be. Logistics get hairy, people cancel or maybe one of you gets dragged off your United flight on the way there. The destructive possibilities are endless.
If you’re planning a trip to go hiking or camping, it can be even worse. Varying skill levels, experience in the outdoors and the amount of gear required may mean that you’ve already lost before you started.
But fear not and know that it can be done! It just takes a few extra steps of planning. I’ve put together the 11 step checklist to making sure the trip really does happen and that it’s a trip everyone will enjoy.
Designate a Trip Coordinator
If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re probably the trip leader. The cats you’re herding need some sort of guidance. As you continue this guide, remember that you are allowed to delegate tasks and tell others what to do.
Opt for the road trip
For your first camping trip, it doesn’t hurt to stay as close to home as possible. If you’re all getting on a plane and flying to a location, the cost can skyrocket and complicate how you do all your grocery shopping and planning. Accessibility is key. Carpooling or convoying gives you the opportunity to pack a lot more glamping and camping gear. Besides, you’ll be able to get as messy as you want without worrying about a rental vehicle.
Make All your Reservations
Depending on where you stay, chances are you’ll be in a national park, forest or state park. Some campgrounds are “walk-up” only which means you can’t make a reservation. For large groups, this is risky. Try to find “reservation only” camping and read the specifications for group size.
Research the Campground
Large camping groups want to party, because duh…wilderness. Some campgrounds have quiet hours and depending on what your plans are, you may not want to shut the party down at 10am. When choosing a site at a campground, pay attention to the park map. Look through every photo they provide. How close are the camp bathrooms? How close are your nearest neighbors? Do they offer potable water? Electrical hookups? Are there any cool features like rivers or rock climbing nearby?
When you get there, it’s not a bad idea to befriend the camp host too and tell them your plans. If the night gets rowdy, you’ll thank yourself that you have a friend.
Research the Area
As much as I love day drinking by a tent all day, it’s a good idea to actually plan some activities for the weekend. You are not guaranteed phone reception at a campground so do it beforehand! Float the river, hike the trails, climb a mountain, explore a cave or chase some waterfalls. Learn what the region has to offer!
Figure out the money early
You’ll be paying for gas, groceries, beer, camp reservations, (maybe) hiking permits, gear, and firewood to mention a few. It adds up and since you are the trip coordinator, you’re at risk for paying for a lot more than you should. Plan ahead and don’t be afraid to put stuff in writing.
Start a Google Doc for the Gear List
The honey-do list will inevitably grow and get out from under you. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve realized that. Unlike your typical travel trip, you’re probably not just packing clothes and toiletries. Set up a sharable google doc with everyone’s name listed. Make a gear list of everything the individual will need (backpack, hiking socks, sleeping bags, puffy jacket, pool float, whatever). Likewise, make a “group gear” list of things like the camp stove, tents, ice chests and music speakers. Note who has extra of something and who has none.
It may seem excessive but it will allow you to make sure that everything is squared away. And when the group camping trip is over, everyone will still remember who borrowed what.
Plan your recipes ahead of time
If one of your friends is a culinary genius, awesome! Can I borrow them? You can designate them as a camp cook….or not. Either way, decide what you are going to cook, how many you are going to cook for and when you’re going to cook it beforehand. It makes the grocery trip a lot easier when you have an objective.
Decide on a moderate trail that everyone can complete (if you’re hiking)
Remember and respect the varying skill level of those within your group camping trip and leave your pride at the trailhead. There is nothing more dangerous or unpleasant than putting someone in a position of uncertainty out in the wilderness. I promise you that literally nobody will be having fun.
Bring more water than you’ve brought booze
Nothing spurs stoke quite like an epic group camping trip. However, you are out in the wilderness. Just bring an absurd amount of water to support your hiking hangover. You’ll thank me later.
And as always, before you set out:
Buy a map, touch base with rangers, and check the weather!!!
Did you enjoy this 11 step group camping article?
You can follow more of Alex’s adventures at www.wanderwritings.com