I started planning a group camping trip with my friends in 1993. I’m proud to say that we’ve never missed a single year to this day. This summer is a big deal because it will be the 27th year in a row. The highest headcount we’ve had was 71. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to keep the spirit alive for an annual camping trip. When done with the right intention planning a group camping trip can add a new shared identity to your circle of friends that will last for many years (my goal is a 60th annual camping trip).
1. Setup A Facebook Group
Everyone is already on there so a facebook group is a great place to organize everything. They have three security settings: Open, closed, and secret. Open means everyone can see everything and what the members post. Closed means everyone can see members but not the posts. Secret means no one can see anything. I’d recommend secret. That way you can be more specific about all of the people you want to invite.
Pick An Awesome Cover Image
Use a picture of the lake you want to go to, past pictures of people having fun somewhere, or anything that will get people excited to go.
2. Make Use Of Google Docs
You’re most likely going to have some shared expenses (campsite, food, t-shirts, maybe a keg?) Google docs is great for keeping track of this stuff. Set it up and share the link in your facebook group. Here are the settings I use:
This way they can look at it even if they don’t have gmail, but only people with that link can see it. If you and one or two other people are doing the planning you can share the permissions with them, but be careful with that. When too many people can alter the dollar amounts it can be a problem.
3. Setup Square Cash, Venmo, Paypal, Apple Pay, etc…
These are the main ways that people are exchanging money electronically these days. You want to make sure that you can accept money from everyone.
I also strongly recommend collecting money before the weekend. If you’re weekend involves a wee bit of partying (like mine does), dealing with money on Sunday is not fun. People just want to get in there car and go home. Getting the money beforehand makes for a stress free weekend.
Bonus tip – put your initials on EVERYTHING you bring. After a long weekend of fun in the sun with old friends your gear tends to get scattered around. This goes a long way toward making sure that everything your brought ends up in your car before you leave.
“I Don’t Need All Of This – We’re Just Going Camping”
That’s true. However, a well planned weekend will greatly increase the chance that everyone will want to attend next year. The Facebook group gets everyone pumped up before the event. I usually start dropping different ideas a full 6 months before the event. Posting a different photo every week from last years event is an awesome way to get people excited. You don’t need Squarecash or Paypal, but it gives people options. That’s the point. Some people prefer cash, some love Paypal (me).
Organization is the key to a large group camping trip, and it makes things a whole lot easier.