Thinking of getting the clan together? Go camping! Here are 10 tips to help you plan an epic group camping trip. All going well, you’ll kick-off an annual tradition!
1. Start the Process Early
There’s nothing we love more than a spontaneous campout, but when it comes to large groups and camping, the more time and thought in the planning stage, the better.
Life is busy, and with so many personal schedules and possibly hundreds of kilometres between you all, wrangling the group to settle on a suitable date and location could be complicated. So start the conversation early.
Look to be booking your campsite a minimum 6 months in advance, longer if possible. Campsites at popular holiday destinations do book out, particularly during school holidays and long weekends, so early reservations are a must. Many campsites accept bookings up to 12 months in advance with popular campsites hosting regular groups that, on the day they leave, rebook the same dates for the following year.
2. Book Exclusive Use
Smaller campgrounds often offer exclusive use for groups. You may need to pay for the privilege but it will mean you’ll have the whole space to yourselves to run wild.
This is particularly important if your group is a rowdy bunch. You don’t want to be ‘that’ group, upsetting neighbouring campers and hosts. If you plan on making a bit of noise, check if there is a noise curfew or nearby neighbours before you book.
3. Group Communication
Communicate with the whole gang all together and frequently. This keeps everyone involved, avoids any misunderstandings, allows the sharing of ideas and fuels the good vibes!
There’s a myriad of ways to keep a group conversation rolling. Start an email thread, create a Whatsapp group, schedule a regular zoom call, or – one of our favourites – set up a private Facebook group. This keeps all the communication in one place, plus it’s a great way to share photos after the trip, and you can keep the page active for next time.
4. Ease Into It
Some campers love back-to-basics bush camping, with grass mattresses and a basic long drop. But not all campers are created equal. If some in your group prefer a hotel to a humpy, book a camping site with good amenities at the very least. Also, look for locations that aren’t too far from local attractions and practical places like supermarkets.
Some Youcamp listings offer tent and caravan sites as well as cabins, so can cater to different comfort preferences. Jimna Basecamp just north of Kilcoy in QLD is hugely popular for groups and caters to campers at both ends of the camp-comfort spectrum. They have tent and van sites, cabins and a Bush Holiday House as well as toilets and hot showers.
Treat this trip as an opportunity to convert the non-campers of the group but ease them into the experience.
5. Create a Shared Packing List
There’s no need for everyone to bring a boat, a bbq and a bottle of washing up liquid. Lighten everyone’s load by creating a shared packing list to work out who is bringing what. Not only will this avoid doubling up on items unnecessarily, but it’ll also give those a chance who don’t have the gear to share, borrow, hire or buy what they’ll need.
6. A Communal Shelter
A communal sheltered area will become the heart of your campsite. There should be enough space for everyone to gather, particularly if the weather turns south.
If your chosen campsite doesn’t have a sheltered communal area, you’ll want to set one up. A collapsible marquee, fold-out table and chairs, and lighting may be all you need. This being said, if you can find an exclusive campsite that already has a camp kitchen or similar area set up, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and really lighten the packing load.
Platypus Waterhole is a fabulous creek-side campsite in the NSW Blue Mountains, catering solely to exclusive group bookings, and their camp kitchen is rustic luxury! It has an internal fireplace, wood-fired stove, gas BBQ, sink, running hot water, large dining table and bench seats.
7. Delegate Responsibilities
Assign responsibility for different aspects of the trip to different ‘committees’ within the group. Put one committee in charge of the booking logistics and host communications, another in charge of food, one in charge of the packing list, another in charge of activities and so on. This not only eases the burden on you, but it also gets everyone involved.
8. Group Meals
Rather than everyone organising their own food, it can be easier, cost-effective and much more fun, to do meals together. Consider having breakfasts and dinners all together with everyone doing their own thing for lunch. This is a nice way to start and end the day as a group.
You could also allocate each main meal to a different person within the group. Alternatively, if someone in the group wants to appoint themselves the camp head chef – great! Have everyone throw money into a food kitty.
The menu will largely depend on the cooking facilities at your camp but look to tried and true camping recipes. For breakfast, a large pot of porridge is an easy, one-pot breakfast or bacon and egg rolls are popular. For dinners, classics such as a hearty stew and damper, barbecued meats and salads or hot spuds cooked in the coals will do the trick.
9. Activities and Friendly Competition
Look for campsites that have plenty of options for adventure right out the tent door – swimming, fishing, hiking, kayaking, bike riding… But also have activities up your sleeve to whip out during downtime or wet weather.
A deck of cards and a board game or two should be permanent fixtures in your camping kit. When the sun goes down, old school games such as spotlight tag, charades or impromptu talent shows are always fun. A lot can be said for a classic sing-along around the campfire. Anyone pack a guitar?
10. Relax and Ease Expectations
You’ve done the hard work in the planning stages so when at camp, kick back and relax. Keep the agenda loose and let people go at their own pace. Don’t fret if items are forgotten or the weather’s not as nice as you hoped.
The beauty of camping is it’s not meant to be perfect. Mozzies in your tent, overcooked sausages, too many toasted marshmallows, smoke-scented clothes, grubby feet and a splinter or two… it’s all part of a soul-quenching experience with your family and friends.
In a nutshell, here’s what you should consider when planning your group camping trip:
- Book early – at least 6 months out.
- Regularly communicate with the group.
- Create a shared packing list.
- Ease first-timers into the camping experience.
- Delegate responsibilities amongst the group.
- Consider booking a campsite exclusively.
- Plan a communal sheltered area.
- Pre-plan group breakfasts and dinners.
- Organise games and activities.
- Relax – camping is meant to be a bit grubby and makeshift!
Group Camping sites around Australia
At Youcamp, we have over 50,000 camping sites around Australia, many of which are well set up to host large groups. Get in touch at [email protected] to kick start your planning or browse through our group campsites below:
Group campsites in New South Wales
Group campsites in Queensland
Group campsites in Victoria
Group campsites in Tasmania
Group campsites in South Australia
Group campsites in Western Australia
Group campsites in Northern Territory