Camping doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Afterall, nothing can be more enjoyable than getting out into nature with your friends or family.
So what is a group camp?
A group camps means a campsite designed for large groups such as families or even business place workshops. Group camps are often located in designated areas that are seperated from tent and RV sites so that yoyr group will have more privacy and there are not campers outside your group coming into your campsite. Groups sites will many times lack amenities such as electric hook-ups. A group may or may not have access to running water or comfort staions.
Group camps are a great option when camping with your friends, hosting a family reunion, or even a work retreat.
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Where Can I Group Camp?
Many national parks or state parks have group campsites available. They also likely have a limit on the number of people or the size of the party that can book individual campsites. To avoid large groups taking up many individual campsites, the campground usually provides a designated group area.
However, camping with a group does not mean that you have to go to a campground or KOA. You and your friends can certainly set up a tent city in the backcountry (as long as you are not trespassing). But be prepared to have fewer amenities than a campground would provide. This means finding a bathroom, a water source, and a cooking area for a large number of people.
If your party isn’t up for a primitive camping experience, considered a campground group site. These group camp areas can accommodate various sizes of groups. From 25 people at Hugo Lake, Oklahoma to 100 person sites at Lake Perris, California.
These multi-person campsites often are better equipped to handle groups than individual camp spaces. They will typically feature picnic tables, a large shelter area, additional bathroom facilities, and possibly a kitchen area and playground.
Access to running water and electrical hookups varies at group camp locations. Some group campsites are designed for tent camping, while others may be set up to accommodate campers and RV’s.
When you are planning a group camp experience, it is important to check with the campground regarding vehicles. Most group campsites will only allow a fraction of the number of vehicles compared to people camping; most times, the limit is 20 vehicles. This means that members of your party will have to travel together.
Some great resources for locating a group campsite include:
- KOA Campgrounds https://koa.com/ways-to-stay/groups/
- National and State Parks https://www.recreation.gov/search?start=0&inventory_type=camping&inventory_type=dayuse
- Your local Metro Parks
Why Should I Group Camp?
If you look for any opportunity to travel with your friends, then group camping is a perfect fit for you! Camping with your family or friends is a great way to get out and explore nature together.
This type of camping accommodates all experience levels. Your group will probably have a healthy mix of new campers, intermediate campers, and experts. Each person can contribute to the campsite and help one another out.
During the day, small groups can break away for activities and adventures, but at meal times, everyone can reconvene around the campfire. With so many people sharing one campsite, you are not likely to run out of supplies or laughter.
Group camping is an awesome way to reconnect with friends, family, and Mother Nature.
How Do I Group Camp?
If reserving a group camp sounds like your cup of tea, there are a few things you should know before calling up the campground. To have a smooth and successful camping trip, you need to plan carefully.
- Appoint a Leader
Choose an organizer. It is incredibly hard to bring together, feed, and shelter fifty people without a group leader. One person or family should be appointed as the group organizer.
In most cases, campgrounds will require a single group reservation holder. This person will be responsible for making the reservation and payment, completing check in and out with the hosts or rangers, and clean up, as well as any damages.
As a group leader, don’t go overboard. Telling people where to set up their tents rarely ends well. You should give group members all the information you can regarding the specifics of the site and important details, but ultimately the success of their camping experience is up to them.
If you are the selected leader, organize early and invite your friends or family members asking them to Rsvp. You will need a headcount so you can select a large enough campsite.
- Choose a Location
Once you know the size of your group, you can think about location. It is likely that you will have already determined the general area in which your group would like to camp. Now, you need to narrow it down to a specific campground, national park, or state park.
Campsites fill up quickly, so the sooner you reserve your site, the better. Be cognizant of the area surrounding your campsite. Does it have enough diverse activities for everyone in your group? Is it located next to a loud road or train tracks that may wake up any little ones attending?
You should also contemplate the type of camping that will be happening. Is everyone tent camping or are some people bringing their camper? Check the campsite for water access and electricity hook-ups.
If you have considered driving distance, amenities, and recreational interests, you are ready to book your reservation. Most campgrounds and parks will take reservations as early as six months in advance and charge only minimal cancellation fees. It is a good idea to book early.
Upon confirming your reservation, let your group know the specifics of the campsite. This includes the location, the climate during the timeframe you will stay there, and what they should plan on bringing. You don’t have to provide them with a complete packing list, but let them know whether there is a water source, stationary charcoal grills or fire rings, and electricity.
- Organize Food, Supplies, and Gear
The date and location are set, now you need to manage food, supplies, and gear. Either every individual or family can be responsible for their own resources, or you can arrange gear sharing.
It is probable that dining will be communal, and food will be shared throughout the group. Whether everyone is contributing to one large stockpile or bringing enough only for their family, you will want to have extra. It is a good idea to pack more than you think you will need.
The same applies to supplies. Someone is bound to forget their toilet paper or flashlight. Make sure you have yourself and your family covered, then stuff in a few extras if you can.
Aside from the essentials, also think about activity gear and games. If they have them, should group members bring their kayaks, hiking poles, or climbing gear? Can anyone provide a few activities for the campsite like a beanbag toss or horseshoes?
Gear sharing is a great way to scale back how much stuff each person is required to bring. Not everyone will hike at the same time, nor will everyone be using a camp chair simultaneously. If your friends or family are open to sharing their daypacks, cast iron skillets, and whatever else, it will benefit the entire group.
Using spreadsheets with accessibility and sharing are great options to keep everyone on the same page regarding food and gear. Additionally, having a Facebook group is a quick and easy way to send out updates.
- Assemble a Team to Help
If the logistics of keeping everyone fed, dry, and safe are overwhelming, enlist a team. A group of people within the group who can collect payments from everyone, go grocery shopping, or even own a large vehicle to transport stuff to the campsite.
Planning thoroughly and having a dedicated team to execute your plan will lead to a successful group camping trip.
- Don’t Leave Anything Behind
As your camping trip is drawing to a close, the group leader should provide clear communication about what packing up and leaving entails. Especially if the reservation holder does not want to be left with the fifty-person mess.
Make sure to pick up any trash and leave nothing behind. Two to three individuals or families should be chosen to do a final walk through to assess the campsite.
The park rangers or hosts typically require the reservation holder to do a walk-through with them upon checkout. By doing this, they can ensure that everything is clean, and there are no damages.
Hopefully, if you are organized and everyone is adequately prepared, your group camping trip should be a blast!
Group campsites and group camping experiences are a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your friends and family. Everyone gets to tailor their activities and participation to their liking, and nothing beats coming together for potluck dinners around the campfire. Camping together helps to create lasting memories, but remember, don’t forget to share those awesome pictures with the group!
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