Tag Archives: campground

Tips for Planning a Successful Group Camping Trip

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

Group Camping with several tents in the woods

Image: Katie Levy

With prime camping season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about trip planning if you haven’t already. And when it comes to spending a night (or several) outdoors, sharing that experience with a group of people can be incredibly rewarding.

After going on multiple camping trips with friends and local outdoor clubs, I’ve learned that a handful of key things planned, or not planned, in advance can make or break a group camping trip. If you’re hoping to get a group camping trip in this spring or summer, keep these things in mind.

Make campground reservations far in advance.

One of my favorite things about camping during the off-season is not having to worry about finding a campsite. Most people aren’t interested in camping in the snow, making it easy to drive to a campground and find a last-minute spot. But with some of the most popular camping months around the corner, campgrounds are going to get crowded.

If you’re planning on staying in a campground with a group, look for group sites that accommodate large numbers of people and snag them ahead of time. Some campgrounds don’t have group sites, and if they do, there are typically only a few. You can also look for campgrounds that allow you to reserve sites next to or across from each other if group camping isn’t available. My friends and I did that on a trip to Acadia National Park and it worked perfectly, but only because we planned ahead.

Decide whether to do group meals, and plan accordingly.

Planning meals for a group camping trip

Image: Katie Levy

Letting everyone fend for themselves on your group trip is certainly an option, but group meals can make things more efficient and cheaper. Instead of numerous individual coolers and items bought separately, you can buy in bulk and have the experience of preparing meals together. But if you do decide to do group meals, preparation is essential.

Start by figuring out the number of meals you’ll have, and write down options for each meal. Give your tripmates time to discuss them, and once the meal plan is set, determine who’s doing the shopping and how the items are going to be stored. Finally, pack plastic bags to make divvying up things like trail mix and sandwiches easier.

Understand everyone’s experience level.

Gear check for a group camping trip

Image: Katie Levy

Whether you have a group of seasoned camping veterans, absolute beginners, or a mix of both, knowing your tripmates’ experience levels is important. If you have beginners in the group, they might have more questions about gear and food than a veteran camper would, and they may need to pick up more gear in advance of your trip. They may not understand basic principles of overnight food storage, campground etiquette, or even what sleeping in a tent is going to feel like.

Ultimately, the goal is to make the trip enjoyable for everyone. Understanding both experience level and expectations from your tripmates makes having fun a whole lot easier.

Make a gear list and divvy up group gear.

If you’re going camping, odds are you’re bringing things like a tent, a stove or other cooking device, cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, and other items multiple people in your group may have. But it’s not (normally) necessary for everyone to have their own tent, stove, or bottle of dish soap, and it’s possible some people in your group might not have essential items others in the group can share with them.

Make a gear list in advance that includes things like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and other personal items everyone needs. Then make a separate list of group gear items like stoves, cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, and tents so the gear can be divvied up in advance of the trip. I’ve found making a spreadsheet in Google Docs with multiple tabs for group food, group gear, and individual gear requirements is the easiest way to keep track of everything. A list, or multiple lists, also helps you avoid forgetting anything.

Make and share a plan for finances in advance.

Even when you’re planning a group trip with friends and/or family, finances can be tricky. If you’re ponying up for a campground reservation and group members drop out at the last minute, it’ll cost you. But asking for money upfront can cause its own set of challenges.

Think about whether you want to ask for a down payment in advance, especially for things like reservations. It can prevent folks from backing out at the last minute and helps ensure the known costs are covered before the trip. You can also estimate costs associated with food and ask for all or part of that ahead of time.

I’ve found that on group trips with friends, covering the reservations in advance and dividing up additional costs like food after the trip works best, but that’ll vary depending on who you’re going with. Get everyone in the group on the same page about estimated costs and what’s being collected and when; it’ll make things a lot easier in the end.

Image Credit: Katie Levy

Image: Katie Levy

What other tips do you have for a successful group trip? Have you been on a trip that went extremely well or extremely poorly? If so, why do you think the trip went the way it did? We’d love to hear from you!

Figuring Out Your Camping Style

The first step in ensuring a positive camping experience is making sure you’re comfortable and happy at your site. After all, a night spent in the great outdoors should be a night well spent. Whether you want to be as close to the bare ground as possible or you’d rather sleep under the stars in style, determining your preference before you head out will make the difference between striking up a continued interest in camping or permanently putting out that flickering campfire in your heart. Here are five types of camping that can help you figure out what works best for you.

Glamping (Glamorous Camping)

A full living room inside of a tent.

Camp…er…GLAMP in style! [Image: http://eluxemagazine.com/travel/glamp-of-approval-great-glamping-sites-for-any-season/]

Glamping is perfect for those that want to enjoy the great outdoors, but don’t want to get their hands dirty while doing so. A relaxing weekend away from the stresses of every day life with all the conveniences of home at your fingertips makes for a great opportunity to clear your mind. Glamping can be done in villas, huts, yurts, cabins, lodges, or at park hotels and motels.

RV Camping

A family sitting near a campfire next to an RV in front of a the lake as the sun sets.

Gather the whole family for some cozy RV camping. [Image: http://blog.elmonterv.com/wordpress/photo-gallery/index.php/page/13/]

Similar to glamping, packing up an RV and driving to a campground offers a close-up view of nature’s beauty from the safety and comfort of a camper. An RV can be stocked with all the conveniences that you’re used to and is essentially just a home on wheels (mobile home—get it?). With the open road laid out ahead of you and a cool drink at your side, there’s not many vacations that can compare!

Car Camping

A car packed with camping gear parked in front of a mountain with a tent in the background.

Pack the car and head for the hills! [Image: http://blog.tahoemountainsports.com/2011/05/23/car-camping-list-checklist/]

A bit more rustic yet still comfortable, camping from the convenience of your car gives you easy access to a lot more supplies than just one or two backpacks can hold. It’s a way to get into nature and enjoy yourself while also making sure you didn’t forget your favorite jacket or lucky socks. Just make sure you pack the car in a well-organized and easily accessible way!

Tent Camping

A tent next to campfire in front of a lake as the sun sets.

A peaceful camping trip is just what the doctor ordered. [Image: http://media.onsugar.com/files/2010/10/42/1/912/9123837/8e33a8f26a0179cc_tent_camping.jpg]

When people typically think of camping, they imagine pitching a tent in the woods and cooking over a raging campfire. This style of camping is best for those outdoors enthusiasts that want to respect and honor the nature that they’re partaking in. Head for the hills with your tents in tow, and don’t forget to camp with the best interests of curious animal friends in mind during your stay.

Backpacking

A backpacker standing on a cliff as the sun rises.

Load up your backpack and go explore. [Image: http://www.travellinguide.com/photo-3162-1-the-15-best-backpacking-destinations-in-2015.html]

For those adventurers looking for a challenge and deeper connection to nature, backpacking is the best type of camping to take advantage of. A pair of reliable hiking boots, a backpack stuffed with lightweight camping gear, and good company are all you need before you set off on a backpacking adventure. Part hiking, part camping, it’s perfect for those who like to make a plan and stick to it—set your hiking course, figure out where you want to set up camp come nightfall, and you’re ready to go!

Whether you’re looking to get down and dirty in the woods or want to have a taste of nature with the comforts of your home, this list should help give you an idea of what type of camping you’re most suited for. Browse our Gear Store to get any last minute camping necessities, and don’t forget to download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps before you head out to find an accommodating campsite near you!

Visit Acadia National Park This Year!

Rocky shoreline and girl walking in forest at Acadia National Park [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

Whether on the water or in the woods, there’s so much to see at Acadia National Park! [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

The state of Maine is affectionately known as “Vacationland.” Drive quite a-ways up I-95 North and you’ll reach the crown jewel of Vacationland: Acadia National Park. Acadia’s rugged beauty of craggy mountaintops, rocky beaches, and dense coniferous forest makes it an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Here are a few must-see destinations within the park and some tips that’ll make your next visit to Acadia perfectly align with Maine’s state slogan, “The Way Life Should Be.”

Acadia was the first eastern national park, making it the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. With so many granite peaks tucked inside the park, hiking is an immensely popular activity. A favorite hike is the short, but thrilling ascent to the top of The Beehive, which overlooks Sand Beach. To summit The Beehive, hikers scale exposed cliffs using iron rungs drilled into the rockface. Once at the top (and after you’ve caught your breath), set your camera to the panoramic setting so you can capture the far-reaching landscape of forest, ocean and mountains in all its glory.

Girl boulders up to the summit of Beehive at Acadia [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

Scramble up The Beehive for a thrilling adventure. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

The park is also home to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast and one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise each day. To catch the sunrise and beat the crowds, make sure to set your alarm so you get there early. If you’re looking for a longer day hike, we recommend taking on the Bubbles, which offer arguably the most famous views in Acadia. Rising 700-800 feet above sea level, North and South Bubble overlook the picturesque Jordan Pond. On South Bubble, make sure to check out the Bubble Rock, a spherical, glacial erratic perfectly balanced on the summit’s edge.

See Acadia National Park from a sea kayak! [Image Credit: Tiffany Feldman]

See Acadia National Park from a sea kayak! [Image Credit: Tiffany Feldman]

With a number of well-established bike paths, biking is another excellent option for taking in the sights at Acadia. There are many options for affordable bike rentals in nearby Bar Harbor. The bike loop around Eagle Lake is mostly through forest, offering respite on those hot, sunny days. That being said, mosquitos and black flies tend to congregate in the shade, so wear bug spray in the spring and summer months. There are a few pull-offs along the route, perfect for snapping photos of the lake. If you’d rather be on the water, bring along a sea kayak or go through one of Bar Harbor’s kayaking outfitters. Acadia is just as beautiful off-shore, and kayakers get a unique perspective of the landscape. Out on the water, kayakers may catch glimpses of marine animals, such as seals.

In the summertime, head to Sand Beach, one of Maine’s most scenic beaches. It may be only 300 yards in length, but Sand Beach delivers enormous, southern views of the ocean. Just make sure to pack a sweatshirt. In New England, the Atlantic Ocean is notoriously chilly all summer long, and after that initial plunge, you may be scrambling back to shore to get warm.

Sandy beach at Acadia Maine with mountain [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

Don’t forget your camera! Here’s a shot of Sand Beach taken with a Holga camera. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

The park can also be seen from the comfort of your car or truck. Carriage Road loops around the entire park, giving visitors access to scenic pullovers. If you’re strapped for time, this is the best way to see Acadia. We recommend pulling over at the legendary natural wonder, Thunder Hole. Depending on the tide and weather, massive waves and thunderous sound erupt from this tiny inlet. Take the walkway to the edge of Thunder Hole to see and hear for yourself! This pullover also offers great views of Otter Cliff, Sand Beach and Great Head.

Most of Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island, but portions of the park are scattered across Isle au Haut and parts of Baker Island, making them accessible only by boat. Since Acadia is a popular destination for summer tourism, those looking for more secluded camping spots should arrive at the national park’s campgrounds early. For early birds, quieter tent sites near the water may be available.

From your picnic table, take in the view of Jordan pond [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

From your picnic table, take in the view of Jordan Pond. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

For good eats, we heartily recommend heading to the Jordan Pond House for a lunch out on the lawn. Taking its name from the pond it overlooks, this magnificent estate has been a dining tradition since the late 1800s. Start off your lunch with tea & popovers, followed by a bowl of the seafood chowder and a lobster. And don’t forget dessert! Since you’re in Maine, we recommend the Maine Wild Blueberry Sorbet. After lunch, stroll down to the lake or through the handsome gardens kept on the property.

A large schooner sails out of the harbor at Acadia National Park [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

A large schooner sails out of the harbor at Acadia National Park. [Image Credit: Jess Feldman]

Acadia National Park is a favorite escape for many summer tourists. If you’re looking for more tranquility, consider visiting the park closer to the off-seasons, such as late spring. And don’t forget to pack a camera! Photo opportunities abound within the park. Share your pics of Acadia with us on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Stay tuned for the upcoming release of our new, free Pocket Ranger® National Parks Passport app!

Halloween Camping Recipes

The season of autumn has arrived and Halloween is in a few weeks, which means fall camping season is here! What better way to spend Halloween than camping outdoors? Here are a few spooky Halloween camping recipes to have your family screaming for more!

Marshmallow Witches Recipe

Courtesy of Tasteofhome.com

Halloween camping recipes with three marshmallow witches on a red plate

Image: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/118993615124823337/

This recipe is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. It takes 30 minutes to assemble and you can have the kids join in to help you. This recipe serves 12.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vanilla frosting
  • 36 miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12 large marshmallows
  • 1 drop each of green, red and yellow food coloring (optional)
  • ¼ cup flaked coconut
  • 12 chocolate wafers
  • 12 miniature peanut butter cups
  • 12 milk chocolate kisses

Directions

  1. For the face of the witch, place a small amount of frosting on the bottom of the three chocolate chips, then press two for eyes and one for the nose onto the marshmallow.
  2. For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small re-sealable plastic bag; add coconut and shake well. Spread a small amount of frosting on sides of marshmallows; press coconut hair into frosting. Then, place 3 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy-duty, re-sealable plastic bag. Tint frosting orange by adding red and yellow food coloring. Set aside.
  3. For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of the chocolate wafers; press peanut butter cups upside down into frosting. Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting and place on peanut butter cups. Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag and insert a small star tip. Fill the bag with frosting and make stars around the base of each peanut butter cup. To each witch, secure a hat to with a dab of frosting.

 Monster Claws

 Courtesy of Kraftrecipes.com

Chicken fingers monster claws on a plate with sauce

Image: www.kraftrecipes.com

Get a spook out of these crispy chicken fingers! Total cooking time is only 30 minutes and this recipe serves 4. (Recipe can be altered to serve more.)

Ingredients

  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 packet of Shake ‘N Bake Extra Crispy Seasoned Coating mix
  • ¼ red pepper, cut into 8 triangular pieces
  • ½ cup barbeque sauce (or any sauce of your preference)

Directions:

  1. Heat up your outdoor grill. (If you are in an RV, heat oven to 400ºF degrees.)
  2. Coat chicken with coating mix as directed on package. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Cook for 13-15 minutes or until chicken is done.
  4. Make ½ inch slit in thinner end of chicken strip; insert red pepper triangle in slit for the monster’s claw.
  5. Serve with your choice of sauce.

 

Pizza Mummies

 Courtesy of Spoonful.com

Several pizza mummies on a platter

Image: www.aflexiblelife.com

Add this to your all-time “Favorite Halloween Camping Recipes” list because it only takes 10 minutes, and you can alter the ingredients to make how much is needed.

Ingredients

  • English muffins
  • Pizza sauce
  • Black Olives
  • Scallions
  • Red or green pepper
  • Cheese sticks or slices

Directions

  1. Heat up your grill. (If you are in an RV, heat oven to 350ºF degrees.) For each mummy, spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce onto half of an English muffin.
  2. Set olive slices in place for eyes and add round slices of green or red pepper for pupils.
  3. Lay strips of cheese across the muffin for the mummy’s wrappings.
  4. Bake or grill pizzas for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the muffin is toasted.
Campground decorated for Halloween with tombstones and spiderwebs

Image: halloweencamping.com

Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to choose a state park that offers camping. Use the app’s Events Calendar to see which state park near you is hosting a Halloween and trick-or-treating event for campers!