Pictured above is our annual Crested Butte camping gang. Sometimes there are fewer, sometimes more, but there’re always at least four campers each night. When you’re camping with another couple, or another family for that matter, here are some tips to make that time more enjoyable and less stressful:
1. What’s mine is yours.
When it comes to breakfast items, alcohol, sodas, sunscreen, bug spray, and even camp chairs, share and share alike. We communicate beforehand to determine who’s bringing a grill (if needed) and who’s bringing the stove, but otherwise we have an understanding that everything can be shared. Who wants to spend a nice morning at camp arguing over which milk got used up or who ate the next-to-last bagel?
2. Be flexible.
Unless you know for sure that your entire group is on the same wavelength when it comes to getting ready in the morning, be flexible. Perhaps create a general idea, like “we need to be in the car by 10,” but otherwise keep things open. When we’re biking in the high country, everyone knows we need to be done by 3:00pm (when the rains start). Other than that, we pretty much play it by ear. If you’re like me, and planning is part of your nature, this may be difficult. In the long run, though, it’s best to just get ready, then sit back with another cup of coffee and relax.
3. Discuss dinners and make a plan of action.
This is the one time when planning comes in handy. This year we were camping for three nights and there were two groups of us. My group cooked dinner the first night, the other group cooked the second night, and we combined efforts the last night. Two of us had been in contact earlier in the week, so everyone knew what the dinner plans were, what to bring, etc. This is beneficial for several reasons: 1. If I say, “We’re grilling chicken thighs and making a pasta salad,” and someone from the other group has just decided to become vegetarian, they can either bring along something suitable, or let me know so that I can make sure we have something else substantial. 2. You don’t end up with both groups planning the same meal, like hamburgers or brats.
4. Give each other space.
This can be quite literal. The campground we stayed at most recently had small sites. There was not room for three tents to fit comfortably on one site, so literally, we needed space. We lucked out and nabbed a second spot right next to the first one. Sometimes this isn’t necessary: at the Rosy Lane campground near Almont, CO, the sites are plenty big enough for three tents and a rain shelter.
This site at Yuba Pass in California has plenty of room for two tents, but to make sure each group has some space of their own, the easiest thing to do would be to grab the site just across the driveway (where the picnic table is).
Physical space for tents is important, but so is space to clear your head, talk to your significant other, and, sure, gripe occasionally. It’s important to give each group this kind of space, too. Take a walk, spend some time “organizing” your tent, go for a swim, etc.
5. Bring entertainment.
On our last camping trip to Durango we spent part of the final evening playing frisbee. It had gotten chilly in the afternoon and to warm up we decided to throw around a Tripleblaze frisbee I had tossed in the car at the last minute. This was so much fun! Especially if kids are coming on the trip, having a frisbee, coloring books, E-readers, jai-alai, or other games can make the campground experience even more fun. Then again, sometimes exploring a creek or nearby meadow can be just as fun.
6. Make sure you have a rain plan.
Who’s bringing the rain shelter? Extra roll-a-tables? Rain with no plan except to hop in the tent or car can be a bummer. If both groups have tarps or rain shelters, I say the more the merrier.
7. Know your friends.
This may seem like an odd tip, but it’s best to know the people you’re camping with, and the types of campers they are, before you go. This can really help to avoid frustrations and misunderstandings. For instance, even when I’m camping, I go to bed fairly early (11 at the latest), so if I’m camping with people who like to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, I take earplugs. It’s much easier than yelling at my friends or trying to stay up when all I want to do is get in my sleeping bag.
Similarly, if your friends are late sleepers, be courteous and prepare everything for your coffee (as much as you can) the night before so that you don’t have to slam doors and bang things around while others are sleeping.
In the end, camping with friends can be a lot of fun. There are few things more relaxing than sitting around a campfire toasting a marshmallow or drinking a glass of wine with your closest friends. Still, being in the right frame of mind before the trip even starts, and doing a little planning, can help make that trip even better!