I work for a university part-time as an off campus trip organizer, and, by far, a camping trip is the most difficult to organize. It is already difficult trying to plan a camping trip for just a couple of people. I am by no mean a professional. I’m not a NOLS or Outward Bound trip coordinator, but I’ve done some planning, and here are some of my advice to you! I’ll share my mistakes, to do, and not to do with you. If you’re planning a trip for a big group of friends, family, or club members, I hope that you find these 6 tips useful. I won’t go too much into how to plan a trip but I’ll focus on 6 essential points that I’ve learned from experiences.
What to keep in mind at all time?
If you’re doing something similar like this, not only will you need to be concise with your plan and schedule, but you also need to be aware of everyone’s needs. One person’s going to be a vegetarian, maybe allergic to gluten and peanuts, someone may have just sprained their ankle two weeks ago, someone may be super slow and someone may be really fit and just run the trail.
The big question that you need to ask yourself constantly when organizing a big camping trip is “how are you going to make a trip that takes everyone into consideration and not sacrificing any fun”.
I believe that attitude is everything. Good attitude will result in a good day. If you keep in mind of everyone on this trip and maintain a positive attitude, you will be viewed as a good leader of the group.
Make a list to make your life easier
I suggest that you use Google Doc form. Create a form or Survey Monkey and list all the questions that you want your participants to answer. Give them at least a week or two to complete.
Questions that you need to ask them: allergy, food preferences, recent injuries, their pet peeves, is this their first time, are they experienced, are they CPR or wilderness rescued certified, can they drive, and what kind of outdoor activities they do. These questions should help you get a sense of members in your group and organize the trip according to your participants. If there are two vegetarians on your group, you can now know how much vegetarian food to get.
Collect money before the trip
Yes, this sounds cheap, but if there’s no payment associated, it is really easy for people to back out the day before or not show up at all. I suggest that you try to get some sort of down payment before you put them on the confirmed list. Money that you get from people before hands can be used toward buying food and stuff so not everything is out of your pocket. Whether you’re organizing a trip for club members, meetups, family friends, or friends, I think that getting money from people before hand is the best bet. Waiting until after the trip, you may end up nagging people, and you may even come off as being annoying and cheap. Get money from them while they’re excited about the trip not after. I usually collect about $10-$20 because anything below that is too little and anything more than that will just turn off people.
Bring games, create a list of activities, and brainstorm ice breakers
The more people you have, the more things they want to do separately. Not everyone will want to do every hike, no everyone will want to do stargazing, and not everyone wants to sit around the fire and talk. Be sure to be prepared for all types of people. It is wise to bring some games, activities, and ice breakers on the trip with you to prevent any awkwardness. Games in general can help people in your group to bond with one another, so why not just have them handy. However, because your cars will already be filled with necessity such as firewood and food, bring lightweight things that can be fit in random places; preferably something that is not easily broken; see the list below.
Things to bring: frisbee, beach ball, volleyball, cards, twister, & limbo stick.
Things Not To Bring: A hula hoop (because it’s awkwardly shaped and cannot be put into small spaces in the car
Need more ideas? Here’s a great list of team bonding games and activities.
Multiples of everything
Remember that there will be times when groups are broken up whether it is because some people want to stay at the camp site and chill and some want to go on a hike. It is important that everyone has access to a first aid kit, transportation, cellphone, food, and water at all time. I recommend that you have 1 first aid kit per 5 people. If you have 15, then maybe 3 first aid kit. It depends on how fancy your kits are. You can have one master and three basic ones. Here’s a great list of what to include in your first aid kid. But if you’re lazy, here’s where you can just buy a first aid kit.
If you’re going to a desert, i recommend a tweezer in addition to the usual first aid stuff. Be sure to research terrain, whether, types of bugs, animals that are in the area you’re going, so you can pick and choose your kit accordingly. I made a mistake by forgetting a tweezer and one of my friend got stab by a cactus, and it was not fun trying to use a knife to pull it out.
Other things that you should consider bringing extras are flashlights and whistles. Not everyone is going to have these two essentials. Flashlights are important for an obvious reason and surprising large amount of people don’t have one. Also, whistle is good especially for people who may have to use the restroom at night alone; he or she can blow the whistle in case of an emergency.
I think that everyone should have a flashlight or a headlamps, and there could be 1 whistle per 5 people.
Last but not least, set some ground rules
I highly recommend that you have a group meeting right when you arrive at the campsite. Before you do any sort of activities, you should meet to introduce everyone first and create a list of ground rules. This should include things like quiet after midnight, make sure to go to restroom with a friend at night, do shores and help out around campsite, and respect other people’s privacy.
Again, this is not meant to help you organize the trip, but I hope that you find these 5 essential tips useful. Here’s a check list and a guide to how to plan a group camping trip.