As an outdoor educator, please allow me to share some general guidelines for camping with a large group of approximately 30-40 of your closest friends /associates. I’ve done this many, many times and have the scars to prove it.
Unfortunately, you/I cannot take a large group anywhere with any kind of spontaneity. Especially when your chosen destination is in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. So you need to realize these genius ideas sooner!
Having said that, your choice of venue is important. If you like it, chances are everyone else will like it as well. Whatever you do, always try to visit an area first. There is also a large disparity of experience in groups so it’s important to plan ahead for the “newbies”. One can only do that with an in-person visit.
Speaking of the “newbies”, they are the big determining factor in your outing’s success. If they have a good time, so will everyone else. People get turned on to people getting turned on in the woods. So your inclination toward more developed facilities is well founded. Nobody ever learned to fly by pushing them off a cliff. So let’s take it one step at a time with them. In the long run, if your less experienced attendees are comfortable and confident, they will want more. They will also regard you as the man who provided that comfort and confidence so it will be much easier the next time around.
Okay, you planned ahead (in Fl peak camping season is late Oct to early May), chose the perfect venue (state parks can fill up – up to a year in advance for in season and holidays), and everyone’s ready to go. How do we foster those feelings in our whole group? Let’s address comfort first. I’ll get right to the point. The bathroom facilities have to be CLEAN. If the venue is unable / unwilling to help with that, someone in your “advance party” has to do it. Otherwise you will be doing it yourself. Unfortunately this has to be done if you want to see these “newbies” again.
Obviously, good food is another aspect and I won’t waste your time with it. Information is a great comfort as well. Like, “how cold will it be?” is always a popular subject. Studying the weather reports for the altitudes you expect will be important.
Many do not need much for comfort but the top three items to consider are:
- great food
- comfortable sleeping temperatures
- A clean place to relieve oneself.
Now for the confidence….Confidence comes from involvement. No one expects you or anyone else to entertain the “newbies”. They must be involved in setting up, taking down, cooking, recreational choices, etc.
Also, you will want to schedule activities that inspire confidence. For instance, I know many people fear getting lost. I also know many women not only fear getting lost, but they may not be interested in looking at a compass or map either. Other concerns are bugs, snakes, bears – having someone along that can help instruct on the basic behaviors of the native wildlife is a plus!
Take a poll of your more experienced people and see what they’d be willing to teach. First aid? Outdoor primitive cooking? Make it informal. If you can teach someone how to get along in the woods, they’ll feel much more confident. They’ll love the woods like you do too.
A little advance planning (create a pre-trip organizational checklist. Create individual checklists for your group too) and remembering comfort and confidence will create lots of good will. Just avoid activities that are obviously team-builder-y. People are getting wise. Create camaraderie instead. It builds stronger teams.
Not a Clue Adventures provides all the gear, instruction, meals and activities for groups from 2 – 50. We are Central Florida’s First Choice for Concierge Camping Services and Guided Backpacking. Let us do all the work or teach you to do it on your own. We provide all the equipment, meals and guided activities to make your outdoor experience a positive one! We also offer guided birding, kayaking, hunting trips and Eco-Tours.