12 Tips for Responsible Group Camping Trips

Responsible camping requires food and equipment planning, site reservations, appropriate handling of waste, reliance on reusable materials, and other practices that protect both the environment and the people in your group.
Article Image

There are many reasons for organizing a large group camping trip. A business could use such an excursion as a team-building outing for employees or a bonus for a successful quarter or season. Exposure to nature, in activities such as camping, appears to lower stress, anxiety, and depression.

As a result, group camping can even provide a useful therapy element for military veterans or troubled youth.

Camping is also a versatile outdoor activity since it can accommodate small or large groups. The more people you have on an excursion, however, the more focus you need to put on safety. You will need to adopt proper outdoor safety practices and ensure that everyone in the group understands these safety procedures so that they can look out for one another. In order to ensure a large group camping trip is successful, fun, and safe, there are some factors that you should consider.

#1 Consider What Type of Camping Would Be Ideal

You need to match the type of camping excursion with the needs and abilities of your group. For example, a business retreat might require a higher level of comfort, more amenities, and minimal physical activity. Meanwhile, a therapy or team-building adventure could focus more on challenging settings and activities.

Consider the amenities at the campground. Some pack-in spots merely have a cleared space for your tent, which can be fine for a more adventurous group. However, for a business outing, you may want to choose a site with features like built-in firepits, bathrooms with plumbing and running water, and electrical outlets.

#2 Choose A Location

Your choice of location will depend on planned activities and accessibility. For instance, if you want to include fishing or canoeing, you will need to be near a lake or river. Well-marked trails are important for hiking activities, especially if you have inexperienced people in your group.

Also, to avoid damaging the natural environment, it is better to use a dedicated camping area with a large group instead of camping away from an established site. Finally, if you need convenience and accessibility, drive-in sites are your best option. An organization such as Kampgrounds of America can help to find appropriate campsites and understand their features and attributes.

#3 Make Reservations If Necessary

Small groups may be able to find a campsite the day of, but reservations are often necessary for group camping. Most public and private campgrounds take reservations to avoid overcrowding. Others may allow you to reserve spaces even if they do not take formal reservations.

You should make reservations as early as possible so that you can ensure adequate space and begin planning the other aspects of your trip.

#4 Plan Group Camping Meals

Once you have a better picture of the number of campers, cooking facilities, and available food prep equipment, it’s time to start planning group camping meals. The general rule for group camping is to select meals that are easy to prepare and contain ingredients that you can buy in bulk.

Food storage is also a consideration. Unless you have access to refrigeration or coolers, you will want non-perishable ingredients. Dried items like pasta or rice are easy to carry and store without refrigeration.

Finally, you need to consider any restrictions or allergies that campers may have. If you prepare meals for the entire group, everything will need to meet the dietary needs of everyone.

#5 Create a Checklist Of Necessities

Think about all of the equipment, tools, supplies, and other things the group will need on a camping trip. This can include things like cookware and utensils, food, tents, and other items the group will use. Create a master checklist that includes all of these items, so you can keep track of what supplies you have and still need. Group members can then provide these items.

When you are camping with a large group, it is essential to account for bringing extra necessary supplies. This tip can be challenging because you want to balance weight and waste by ensuring everyone has what they need during the trip.

You should have reserves of essential items, such as water, first aid supplies, and dried foods. If a water container leaks or wildlife gets into the food, it could cause a premature end to the trip. It is also good to have an excess of necessities like camp stove gas or fire-starting materials. Additionally, be sure to check all of your equipment before leaving. Inspect items like tents for damage, and equipment like cook stoves for proper functionality. Ensure any fuel containers are full and batteries are fresh as well.

#6 Designate Duties

You will need to allocate duties to the different campers to ensure everything runs smoothly during the trip. Designating duties to specific campers can ensure no one is wasting energy doing the same tasks as someone else. Some people may be better at making fires or cooking, while others have the knowledge to set up the campsite or make tent repairs, so it is helpful to assign duties according to people's skills.

If you bring dogs or other pets on the camping trip, you can assign group members to ensure they are safe and fed and not in danger of getting lost or encountering dangerous wildlife.

#7 Campsite Organization and Setup

When camping in a large group, it’s important to keep a campsite organized. Carefully plan tent locations, cooking and eating areas, and locations of supplies. This helps to know where other members of the group should be and provides faster access to things like first aid kits in the case of emergencies.

#8 Create a Plan for Waste Disposal

Large camping groups usually create a lot of waste during a trip. According to the National Park Service, visitors to national parks generate nearly 70 million tons of waste a year. You will want to have a waste disposal plan to limit this impact on the environment. Many campgrounds and parks have regulations that you will need to follow for waste disposal.

If you would like to recycle, you can set up separate bags for trash and recyclable materials. Designate someone in the group to pick up any litter that does not get thrown away.

Campgrounds will typically have places to throw away garbage and recycle items. If you camp in the wilderness, you will need to carry both recyclable materials and waste with you when you leave. You can limit waste by using washable dishes and reusable water bottles.

#9 Clean Up Every Night

There are two reasons to clean up the campsite every night. First, it prevents the spread of litter, helping you keep track of all waste so that it does not blow away at night.

Secondly, even trace amounts of food waste can draw wild animals to your site, particularly in busier areas where animals may have become “food-conditioned,” and learned to associate people with food. This can put both the campers and the wildlife in danger. Food and food waste should be stored in a way that is inaccessible to animals, such as hanging from a tree, or within a bear locker, if your site has access to one.

To minimize waste, you can rely on reusable drinking vessels, even when drinking beer or soda. You can wash these along with plates and utensils using biodegradable soap to limit the environmental impact.

#10 Completely Extinguish Fires

Improperly extinguished campfires may lead to wildfires that can cause significant damage and endanger people's lives. Camp stoves, lanterns, and candles also pose dangers.

You should check on fire bans at your chosen campsite. Some sites may issue burning restrictions during dry periods. Many campsites have fire rings or pits designed to contain flames and ash. You should avoid making a fire without these safety structures.

Even after the fire burns out, you should ensure it is fully extinguished before leaving the campsite. To do this, pour water on the ashes, then gently spread them out and add more liquid. You should only leave the grounds once the entire fire pit is cool enough that you can touch it with your bare hand.

#11 Choose Reusable and Biodegradable Products

Reusable drinkware, silverware, and dishes help limit waste, and biodegradable cleaning products ensure your group remains eco-friendly while in nature.

If you do opt for disposable plates or napkins, ensure that they are fully biodegradable so that they will not damage the surrounding nature, even if they happen to blow away or get scattered by an animal.

Reusable items can provide other advantages, as well. For example, you can keep drinks warm or cool with insulated vacuum bottles, and travel mugs offer similar benefits.

Pack In, Pack Out

The pack it in, pack it out philosophy focuses on leaving your campsite exactly as you found it. You bring in everything that you need and harvest nothing from the area surrounding your tents. After the trip, you take all your garbage and items, cleaning up any spills or food waste as you leave.

Pack in and pack out is a good strategy if you want your group to engage in eco-friendly camping practices. If previous campers didn’t do a good job cleaning up after themselves, your group can help by cleaning up any leftover mess, leaving the site in a more natural state than when you arrived.