If “The more, the merrier!” is your motto, you’ve likely been tempted to take advantage of the exceptional group camping facilities offered at many of America’s state parks. However, as anyone who’s ever participated in a potato sack race will tell you, adding more people into the mix doesn’t always guarantee better results. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your group camping dreams forever; it simply means you should be prepared. Here are some tips for making sure the different personalities on your group camping trip blend as smoothly as the stiff drink you won’t even need if you follow them:
Make a plan
Spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment plans always seem like good ideas, but they rarely are (unless the plan is to go get ice cream, because everybody loves ice cream). Impromptu group camping adventures, on the other hand, can be a recipe for disaster. It’s important to discuss the trip beforehand and make sure everyone is on the same page.
If half the group is hoping for a few relaxing days of fishing and outdoor snoozing, while the other half envisions an adrenaline-pumping mountain biking jaunt, there will likely be some frowns in your future. When everyone agrees on what type of camping adventure is in store for the group, it sets the stage for a much smoother trip.
Divvy up the jobs
We’ve all been in groups where one person ended up grumpy because they did all the work, while others didn’t lift a finger and managed to be conspicuously absent when it came time for any type of chore activity. Having the who’s-in-charge-of-what talk ahead of time helps eliminate these common group bummers. Maybe someone can handle the buying of the TP, another person can bring the tents, while some other person rounds up Apples to Apples and other fun games, and so on.
It also helps to assign jobs for once the group hits the campground. If someone in the group is a bossy-boss-boss type, nominate them to be the group leader. If there’s a mother hen present, maybe that person can be in charge of planning the meals. If someone thinks it’s funny to rouse the group with a rooster crow the minute the sun rises, that person can be in charge of staying home. You get the idea. Making sure each that person has a task will prevent anyone from weaseling out of making a meaningful contribution to the crew, and will also ensure that the group doesn’t end up like this:
Insert joy and happiness into the group
By “joy and happiness” we mean good food, silly games, and little camping luxuries. Look, everyone can and will be irritating at times, but it’s hard to be cranky or annoyed with undesirable group camping behavior when there are delicious eats to munch, fun games to play, and comfy air mattresses to sleep on. Playing a hilarious round of charades or stuffing your piehole with zesty pumpkin seeds will boost everyone’s mood and help to diffuse camping tensions. Who has time for stewing about Ben’s disgustingly messy campsite when it’s time for Monopoly or there are RIBS ON THE GRILL? RIBS!!!! OMG!
Even the most thorough preparations can’t guarantee things won’t go awry once it’s camping time. Heading into the excursion with a chilled-out mindset and reasonable expectations will better equip you to deal with any mishap that may befall the group. If you mentally prepare for a few bumps along the way, it will be less of a big deal when Lazy Joe decides to take a nap right before clean up time or Susie Sunshine elects to practice her bird call at 6 a.m.
Keep in mind that people are people, and everyone has their own quirks that may be occasionally irritating, but are probably pretty funny and entertaining too. After all, isn’t that why you wanted to camp with these bozos in the first place?