Summertime, the weather is fine, and it’s time to head into the great outdoors. But the outdoors can be anything but great without the proper preparation and organization for your group. If you’re in charge of this year’s camping adventure, use these 7 tips to plan ahead, turn camping into “glamping,” and ensure that this summer’s wilderness vacation will be the best ever!
1. Prepare ahead of time. Anything that takes a while to do at home will take even longer when you’re camping if you don’t have the right gear! Consider setting up tents and other gear at home to check for broken zippers, holes, and missing parts that might really ruin your campout. Make-aheads like these DIY firestarters are definitely worth the prep time. Consider bringing glowsticks or even solar-powered stake lights to make it easier for everyone to find their way around tent stakes and long anchor cords that always seem to trip people up. Old rugs or pieces of carpet can be placed outside tents to keep dirt inside to a minimum. Extra tarps, garbage bags, and sturdy rope and string also come in handy more often than not. Use this basic camping checklist if you’re not quite sure what else you might need.
2. Organize, organize, and stay organized. The organization should begin as you pack for your trip. Try to use boxes or bins that will stack together well and take up the least amount of space possible. Pack the paper plates, cups, and utensils in one box. Pack the cooking tools in another. Pack bug sprays, sunscreens, and first-aid gear together. Pack foods like chips and bread that don’t require refrigeration in the same box. You might even go so far as to create a small box of supplies for each of the meals you have planned. Organize and pack in a way that makes sense to you, because you will most likely be the one that everyone will run to when they need something.
3. Designate areas within your campsite for different “stations.” Handwashing, food preparation, cooking, first aid, drink, and snack stations are just a few suggestions. Take into account that you probably don’t want high-traffic stations near food prep or first aid areas, as these places require a certain amount of sanitation. Food prep and cooking areas may be best kept under a canopy or within a shelter of some kind to reduce the amount of insects, animals, and dirt.
4. Institute some “camp rules.” Especially if you’ve got a large group, are camping with small children, or are near water, you’ll want to let everyone know what to expect from the get-go. Does everyone have a “buddy?” Do the kids know water safety rules? Is the group aware of hazardous plant and animal life around your campsite? Make sure the rules are clear and be consistent so that everyone stays safe.
5. Establish a “restroom” if there are no man-made facilities at your campsite. Chances are, this is one of the first things your campers will need! Always check the waste disposal requirements for your area before you hit the road – you may be required to remove all waste or at least any toilet paper that may be used. In general, you should select a spot at least 200 feet from water, camp, and hiking trails to avoid contamination and plain old nastiness. Dig a hole with a shovel or rock and use it as your toilet, burying the waste afterwards. If you plan to be in your campsite for long, you may want to use a shovel to dig a deep hole to be used by your group for the entire trip. A hanging tarp or an old sheet can serve as an extra privacy measure if bushes aren’t enough. When the trip is over, top the hole off with dirt. Other campers will thank you.
6. Keep the meals basic. It can be tempting to try to feed your campers the same way you would at home, and there are lots of “camping recipes” that seem easy enough, but try to think ahead. Keeping ingredients and pre-made items cold enough can be tough if all you’ve got is a cooler, and refrigerators in RVs and campers are usually limited in space. The preparation and cleanup required for meals can be messy and time consuming when you’re out in the wilderness. Consider making a simple menu with lots of pre-packaged and easy to store items, and don’t be afraid of old camp favorites like sandwiches, hot dogs, and pre-made tinfoil dinners like these.
7. Plan simple entertainments for kids. The wonders of the outdoors will keep them busy for quite a while, but there’s sure to come a time during your campout that the kids need something new to do. Bringing tons of toys and books from home takes up a lot of storage space and you can bet they’ll come home with camp grime on them. Inspire the kids with some simple nature crafts instead, like these 10 No-Fuss Camping Crafts for Kids, or hold a camping scavenger hunt!
Remember that your area’s weather, your family’s needs, and the activities you enjoy together while camping make a big difference when it comes to getting the most out of the experience. Use these tips and add to them to make your campout unique and special to you! And if you’re looking for more great ideas to make camping easier and more fun, try these tips from Remodelaholic!
Featured Image via Kayla Lilly
Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.