Camping with a crowd can be a memorable experience! The more people there are,the more fun it is–and the more the chance that something can go wrong in some way. There are more personalities, more food preferences, more activity preferences. Experience and age can range dramatically. So can tolerance levels for all manner of situations. Here are some ideas for making a camping trip with a crowd enjoyable for everyone:
Make Sure Everyone Knows About The Food Arrangements.
- There always seems to be that one person who simply assumes the cooking is going to be done for everyone. Make absolutely sure that if everyone is cooking for themselves, that they know this, and also what kind of cooking facilities there will be, if any.
- If it’s every person for themselves, they will need their own food, drink, cooking and eating utensils, and heat source (even if campfires are allowed, a small propane stove is a good idea in case of rain.)
- If someone is doing the majority of the cooking, it falls to the cook to make the menu and to find out if there are food preferences and/or allergies, and make the necessary menu adjustments. And let the crowd know the menu well beforehand so that any changes can be made in case someone suddenly remembers that they hate green beans or whatever.
- Anyone who does have a food allergy or food preference would do well to bring along a couple of “just in case” meals, you know, just in case the one in charge of the food forgets you swell up and die if you eat chili, which happens to be one of the dinners they are making.
- Always bring a little extra. A little extra snacks, a little extra fruit and veg and cheese; you can make stuff in a pinch just in case someone eats way more than you expect, or you are cooking for a couple more than was originally planned for.
Plan Stuff For The Entire Age Range, Then Be Prepared To Not Do Any Of It.
- Unless you are well used to the crowd dynamic of the people you are going with, you really have no idea what they are like when they camp. Some people never stop doing stuff–chopping wood, fishing, hiking, wading, chasing muskrats…Others think the very best thing they can do when camping is read or nap. Don’t insist on anything. Let each one find their comfort level, activity-wise. And don’t pout if no one wants to do what you planned. It’s just in case they’re bored, not mandatory.
- The scope of things you plan should have sit-down activities, like singing, telling stories and jokes, and playing round-robin style games like charades or . There should also be athletic activities, such as hiking, fishing, treasure-hunts, stuff like that. And there can also be gentle activities; croquet if there is space, bird-watching, sketching or painting.
- Take into account the weather. Stuff a deck of cards into your backpack, and maybe some travel games, in case it rains and everyone is stuck under the tarp.
Try And Have A Designated Photographer When Camping With A Crowd.
- If it’s possible, try and get one person to take photographs of the entire camping trip. Get up a small collection and pay for the extra film and developing, then have them make copies for each camper or family. If it’s a crowd composed of three or four families, three or four copies could be made of each picture. If it’s ten individuals, the job should be delegated to three or four people. Or everyone could take photos and get together a month later for a photo-swap party!
- Depending on the age of the kids, it’s a great idea to buy a disposable camera for each one. When they get home have the film developed and have them put the photos in a small album as a remembrance of the camping trip.
- If you are the photographer, try to get a candid photo or two of every person there. I can’t tell you how important this can be–one of my favorite photos was of a dad I didn’t know all that well, when he and his wife and child came camping with us one time. One time only; a few months later he passed away from a sudden heart attack. His picture is the one at the top of this page (He’s the one doing the kicking). Such a nice guy, he had a ton of fun, and it’s the only photo we have of him, though we remain very close to his wife and child.
Be An Example While You Are A.W.A.Y
I learned more from the attitude of my brothers when I was new to camping than any other person I subsequently camped with. Why? They taught me, by the way they reacted to things, that attitude can make or break a camping trip. Forgot your tent? No worries; you can make one with a tarp. Be cheerful. Overhead tarp collect rain and suddenly dump it on you? Do what my other brother did–jump up and yell “Thank you bloody much!!!” in your best John Cleese imitation. I’m telling you–we only had a split second to feel bad for him before that reaction turned a potential sympathetic moment into one of the funniest of the trip. We laughed until we cried. Attitude is everything.
It may feel like it, it may not; but camping can be a lot of work. Pitch in where you can. Help someone set up their tent. Carry the wood. Start the fire. Amuse the kids for an hour. Make the morning coffee. Get the water. There is always something to do and believe me, the few that always find themselves doing the majority of it will be very, very grateful.
Accept the fact that not everyone is like you. We all have our differences and ideas. If someone’s personality is bugging you, absent yourself for a short while; take a nap, a walk, just get away from them. Do not, if you can help it, mimic a “Survivor” episode by having a slap-down. Be as pleasant as you can and never invite them again.
If you can find it in yourself, step out of your comfort zone at least once on the camping trip and say “yes” to something you normally wouldn’t do. Go on that treasure hunt! Eat that burnt marshmallow! Fish that fish! Just saying yes to one thing can make someone who hoped for fellowship feel good about the day, and you never know what you will find out that you like.