Combining the wonderful world of the outdoors with family and friends seems like a dream come true. However, the stresses of travel, unplanned obstacles, and stepping out of comfort zones can quickly interfere with a fun weekend away. My husband and I have learned from the experiences of traveling together as well as with family and friends. Through great trips and lessons learned, we share some strategies for successfully camping with others. Here are 7 ways to make sure your outdoor adventure with your family and friends helps you grow closer together!
Whether it is a trip with just my husband, or a large group of people, we’ve learned we cannot communicate enough. There are certainly times where a camping trip can be relaxed and unstructured, but having a rough outline of a schedule, possible activities, and other general info will help others relax. As a group, discuss and coordinate meals, supplies, and share info about the expected weather.
Taking the purpose and length of your trip into account, give yourself permission to have a few hours set aside to be apart from one another. Personal time is restful and rejuvenating, but it is also necessary if you and others have spent a long time together.
When my husband and I are on an extended trip (more than a weekend long) we plan to have time alone to pursue our own hobbies and to have much needed solace. While it may seem awkward at first, your travel partners will usually notice a difference in the overall improved mood that some alone time yields.
2. Negate the Element of Surprise
Surprises and unplanned events naturally happen while camping, no matter how much you plan and communicate. In these situations, try to keep calm. Camping should be a relaxing time to unplug, but also to bond with those who you are traveling with. When stressful circumstances creep in, take a deep breath and remember the purpose of the trip. Laugh and remind yourself that it will turn out alright. Try to be inclusive and do not use a camping trip to prove who is the better outdoorsman or woman. Think about the strengths of the people you chose to travel with and support each other through the surprises and unplanned obstacles. Through the harder experiences of camping, great memories and friendships are formed.
3. Get Moving
Of course, when camping you are usually already outside. However, don’t just hunker down in that hammock all day! To make the most of your time with your group in the wilderness, brainstorm activities to move purposely outdoors. There are so many group activities that can get everyone involved such as hikes, sports, kayaking, swimming, fishing, nature tours, bird watching, plant scavenger hunts, Frisbee, and much more. Often, we camp to escape daily life and reap the benefit of being outdoors. So, why not enjoy these purposeful activities with your camping group?
One of the best ways to grow closer as a group and move with a purpose is through volunteering. Volunteering in a new location not only helps those in that community, but it also is proven to make the volunteer feel better as well. When we are in a rut of feeling discontent with the world, we look for volunteer opportunities. Volunteering shifts our focus from ourselves and allows us to be a part of something helpful. This feeling simply multiplies when done with close friends and family. With a little effort, you can find an opportunity to volunteer outside and combine the benefits of giving back with those gained from nature. Search for groups that need help with projects in the area or parks that you enjoy recreating at. Or, take an hour to clean up litter around your local nature preserve or forest. You may actually find some cool things. Just remember to wear gloves!
5. Learn from the Locals
There is no better way to see and learn about a location than through meeting locals. If you are camping out in the middle of public land, there are other opportunities to learn from those in the distant area. Before your trip to a new camping spot, look up reviews about the area. See if there are state parks nearby, and if so, check for events that their visitor center may be hosting.
If you are on an extended trip, you can skip the campfire meal one night and drive into town for dinner. I was once dispersed camping with a few friends and randomly saw fireworks in the distance. We hopped in our car and followed them to the nearest town to find a community fair was taking place. It was such a fun surprise and an enjoyable way to spend the evening in this small town. These types of activities are a fun way to mix up the normal camping trip and create new memories with your camping group.
Of course, your location and the language spoken in your travels will need to be taken into account. Sometimes going through an organization to have a local tour guide is the safest approach to meeting locals.
What ways do you ensure happy camping with others? Leave your response in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!