Camping is great; camping with friends can be amazing. However, there are a few things you should do to keep everyone happy.
The first thing you will want to do is judge everyone’s experience level, if you camping with pro’s things are much easier. If you are the only pro, you may need to take on more responsibility to ensure everyone has what they need to have a good time and avoid any early departures. In either case you will need to start planning.
Plan, plan, plan:
Ask everyone at least two weeks in advance or you will probably be going alone.
If you’re camping on a holiday try to call a few months in advance to reserve a spot. Other campgrounds fill up fast using the “first come, first serve rule” so try to get there early.
Check the campground rules and wildlife regulations. Some parks do not allow dogs for example. Or you may have to take certain precautions for large wildlife, see bear bags.
Alex and friends floating the Niangua River
Send out an email to everyone with a recommended gear list for this particular trip and see if everybody has what they need. This could lead to sharing items with means taking less stuff, which means cleaning up less, and that is always nice.
Have an activity to do during the day (in this case floating the Niangua river, MO). Most parks have hiking, biking, or swimming so this shouldn’t be too hard.
Start the food discussion in the gear email, which brings us to…
Food: This can be bit of a headache so here are some options and tips:
Option 1: Each couple or individual is responsible for their own food. This is the easiest route and the advantage is that you can share in what each person made and learn from each other.
Option 2: Make a menu for the group, make sure everyone approves, and stick to it. The advantage is that you can buy the food in bulk and save some cash by splitting the cost among the group.
If you go with option 2 the question will be, who’s cooking? Our advice is to alternate cooking duty nights. If someone loves to cook and is more experienced with camp cooking, let them do it. Tip - You should sweeten the deal by doing the dishes for the camp chef each night.
Fairbanks helping pack up the Jeep
1. Plan and buy all the food the day before the trip – Nothing spoils a trip faster than spending an hour or two at the grocery store arguing about what to cook while you are losing day light. This will probably result in setting up your tent in the dark or during the midday sun and a lot of unhappy campers.
2. Coffee – There are so many ways to make coffee. Our preference is a jet boil and instant coffee packs. Very little clean up and it’s super-fast.
3. Try to use as little cooking supplies as possible when preparing your meals because you will have to clean it and there are generally never any dishwashers at campgrounds. You may want to remember this when planning your menu. Oatmeal = super easy. Pancakes = Super mess.
4. Clean up food, trash, and camp kitchen regularly – There are two key advantages to keeping a tidy campsite: it keeps wildlife away while you sleep, and makes leaving much easier since you have less to clean. Always remember to leave no trace.
Making coffee in the Jetboil to get the day started
So the trip is planned to perfection, the food is bought, the car packed… Nothing can go wrong, right? We hope so but stuff happens, here’s some advice for dealing with problems while camping.
1. Improvise, like a backcountry MAcGyver, you would be surprised how clever and resourceful you and your fellow campers can be…. Always brings duct tape, paracord, a first aid kit, a good knife, and a reliable way to make fire.
2. If someone has an issue try to address it early before tension boils over. For example, a quick detour to the gas station to pick up someone’s forgotten “essential” item is worth the time if everyone is happy.
3. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to get frustrated. But try to remember it’s about the journey not the destination. More than likely the problem you are having now will be a great story later.
So grab some friends, get outside, and have some fun!