There are a number of reasons why you might find yourself involved in putting on a group campout as they are quite common place in scouting circles and other organizations. Also many families find the group campout to be a particularly fun, cost effective and non threatening way to do family reunions or a yearly get together.
The large group campout provides these advantages :
- easy centralization of location.
- shared responsibility on all the individual parties of the group.
- a neutral, non stressful setting that is very kid friendly.
- very economical.
- a memory rich bonding experience.
As with any campout, 'success' is largely determined by the degree of preparation that has been applied and the camping skills of the principal organizers. ( Since you are reading this you are probably one of them ;-) Fear not! It's all quite doable if you address the right issues.
However, Murphy's Law of "if it can go wrong it will" really applies here.
- Agree upon and select a campsite location. This task usually befalls those who are closest to the center of the groups living areas.
- If you use the national forest, contact the headquarters office for the forest you will be using and get a permit ( usually a small fee applies) which will give you a checklist of things they want addressed.
- Arrange for port i-potties or have a system for dealing with the human waste that will be created (this is probably the biggest issue the forest service will have).
- Have a plan for dealing with trash - burn food scrapes and packaging wrappers.
- Have plenty of water - 1 gallon/person/day is the general rule.
- Arrange for plenty of table space. Have folks bring their extra folding tables.
- Have the propane bottles and such filled.
- when - include the inclusive times and dates.
- where - specific directions which should include mileposts numbers, forest service road numbers and distances. Detailed maps are good. I've been known to use Goggle earth with markers. It is highly recommended you stay pretty close to the last paved road and don't use 4x4 roads.
- cell phone numbers are good if there is service available. Someone needs to check that. Also know when you should expect each element of your group to show up so you know when to go looking for them if they don't.
- a list of what they need to bring - tent, sleeping bags, chairs, sun block, pot luck dishes, camera etc.
- group rules (if any) - dogs on lease, no drinking around grandma, lights out at 10:00 etc.
- if it is going to be hot consider asking each party to bring an extra bag of ice and keep an extra cooler just for ice.
If possible, send in a small setup crew the day before all the action starts. Here is where you have the time to gather and cut enough firewood for the event, ( it usually takes a lot) layout and reserve the kitchen area, setup tarps and coverings, dig and start the pit barbecue, direct the port-a-potty placement and get signs out for people to navigate their way to you.
A camping meal plan and camp kitchen checklist are essential for large gatherings as the meal plan defines the food you need while the checklist makes sure you have what you need to cook your selected camping meals.
Kitchen crew training and cleanup
Make sure you teach the kitchen crew the basic food handling issues and techniques. ( Food tends to be a lot more palatable if we can keep the bugs and grubby fingers out of it. ;- )
Be sure to read our daytime entertainment and night time entertainment web pages.
Write down your thoughts on how it went and what you should do different next time. For example, making notes on how the food and water quantities worked out and which meals were most appreciated will really help you out next time.
Don't be afraid to give it a try and I'll bet you will find group outings become one of your favorite camping experiences.
Camping with Kids