For all you group campers out there: some helpful pointers.
There’s a lot to keep track of when you camp with a large group. The correct hiking gear and equipment is only the tip of the iceberg.
Schedules must match, permits or reservations may be needed, and a lot of research must be done on the hike and the campsite. If you have a difficult time organizing your group and need some help, here are some tips and tricks to get you headed in the right direction.
The Gear Must Fit the Hike
Sometimes the nicest, yet most difficult aspect of a group camping trip is that the right gear for the trip doesn’t have to be lugged through the woods by everyone who comes. There’s an element of sharing that makes group camping fun, but the gear you take depends largely on what kind of hike and camping you plan on, and the possessions of each accompanying group member.
If your destination is a drive-up campsite, then your group won’t have to worry about robust trail-worthy footwear, just some comfortable shoes for the beach, river or around the fire. If your group plans to climb a mountain or hike trails that take you deep into the wilderness, everyone will need a comfortable trail boot. If you expect snow on the hike, you’ll need wool socks and warm clothes for the cold nights, as well as a thick bedroll and most likely a three-season tent.
Of course, there’s coordination involved in the extras, in terms of who’s bringing what, so it’s worthwhile to list everything out and provide all members with a checklist before the trip.
While this gear can be expensive, many outdoor shops rent gear your group may need.
Permits, Reservations and Schedules
Before you rent or buy any gear at all, make sure the hike or campsite you want to visit is open for business. Some state parks are closed certain times of the year, while other trails may be snowed in, washed out or otherwise unavailable. Some campsites even require reservations dolled out in a lottery format because of their popularity — park rangers hand out hefty fines for those who don’t abide by the rules.
Other campsites and state parks may not require reservations, but fill up fast with those who make them, so be sure to book your stay early if your trip is during a highly traveled season. Of course most hikes don’t require reservations at all, but a state-wide permit is sometimes required for you to park overnight at trail heads in your state.
The logistics of a group camping trip include schedules and packing as much as it does the acquisition of gear.
Decide how your group will handle meals. Will a different person cook for everyone each night? Will you fend for yourselves and all pack your own food? You’ll likely know how your group works best, but if you have doubts about the organizational skills of others, you can take control and plan out the food for the entire trip, rather than relying on potential newbies to pack for themselves, as it may not be done efficiently.
If everyone in your group can be relied on, then make a shared document and outline the equipment, food and other necessities everyone will need.
Also consider how set in stone plans are with your fellow campers. If your friends are sometimes flakes, get commitments from them in the form of money for reservations, food and other expenses. After people pitch in monetarily, it’s more likely they’ll carry through with their plans.
One way you can keep everyone in the loop is with a Google group on Google+ or a committed Facebook page. This way everyone knows what the plan is and where to be and when.