Camping is a family affair. According to the Outdoor Foundation, 13 percent of the 40.1 million Americans who went camping in 2013 said their main motivation for camping was spending time with family and friends, a number that rose to 48 percent for first-time campers. If you’re organizing a large family get-together such as a reunion, birthday or anniversary party, you’ve got more planning to do than the average camper. You’ve got more people to coordinate, more equipment to pack, and more food to buy and cook. Following a few guidelines can help make a large family camping trip a success.
First, designate one person as organizer to select and book a site. Some camp sites get very crowded, especially around holidays, so it’s best to book well in advance. Reserve America is a good resource for finding a reserving camping spots.
Second, your organizer should make a list of everything you need. This includes food, equipment, games and toys, medicine, first aid kits and other necessities. It also includes any luxury items you want to bring, such as electrical appliances, televisions and radios. Sites such as Real Simple provide checklists you can print out.
Third, your organizer should coordinate plans with anyone else who’s coming along. Make sure everyone knows where and when the event will be and what food they’ll be responsible for bringing. A sign-up sheet can make it easier to coordinate cooking. If you’re going to be setting up late in the day and staying overnight, it’s a good idea to have everyone cook their own meal on arrival day so you’re not trying to set up and cook a big meal on the same day. A potluck is a good way to share cooking responsibilities on the last day. You can also get your children ready for the trip by camping in the backyard for practice a few weeks ahead of time.
Directions & Weather
Getting lost on the way to a camping trip is no fun. Make sure everyone who’s going knows how to get there. To make things easier on everyone, give everyone a map. Google Maps lets you customize maps to print out or share electronically.
Check the weather and let everyone know the forecast. That way if you need to pack any special clothing or equipment, you’re prepared. For instance, depending on the weather, you might need sunglasses and sunscreen or a rain jacket.
Meals are one of the highlights of family camping gatherings, making food a priority. Depending on how many people will be there, what equipment you will have available, and how much cooking you want to do, you have a variety of food options. Some families may prefer to bring food that’s already ready to eat, while others may prefer to spend time grilling. If you’ll be staying overnight and using a campfire, you may want to bring foods you can roast. Snacks for hiking may also figure into your plans. Campetent.com provides a comprehensive list of food options for different camping situations.
Don’t forget to plan drinks. When the Outdoor Foundation asked first-time campers what they wish they had packed more of, the top answer was beer. Likewise, be sure to bring condiments and spices.
Also, remember to bring any cooking and food storage equipment you need. This includes things such as grills, coolers, aluminum foil, pots, pot holders, plates, utensils, cups, paper towels and garbage bags.
Along with food, plan what equipment you need to bring. Along with cooking equipment, essential items can include appropriate clothing, backpacks, camping furniture, sleeping equipment such as tents and sleeping bags, firewood, lighters, matches, lanterns, flashlights, rope and tools. One of the most useful types of tools you can bring is a multi-tool, available from suppliers such as Cabela’s, which combines the functions of knives, pliers, corkscrews, can openers and other tools.
While you’re packing camping equipment, be sure to consider personal equipment as well. Hats, sunglasses, smartphones, cameras, toiletry items, prescription medicine and money are a few things you may want to bring.
Another category of items you may want to pack is equipment for family games and recreational activities. Planning some recreational activities can make your camping experience more fun for both kids and adults. Depending on what you plan to do, you may need to bring equipment such as cards, board games, sports equipment or children’s toys. Ultimate Camp Resource provides hundreds of game ideas to add fun to your camping trip.
Have you had a successful large family camping trip?