(Words: Savannah Bulloch)
One of my favorite memories growing up was hearing stories from my mom about her camping trips with her best friends. She would tell me about the fun activities and games they would come up with by the campfire and the joy of making the perfect s’more with your closest friends. This always inspired me and made me want to go camping with my best friends. Now, 20+ years later, it is one of my favorite activities.
One thing my mom always talked about was the amazing and thoughtful people she would camp with and stressed the importance of being a good camp companion. At first, I did not understand this concept, but I quickly learned (the hard way) that this is an essential part of making or breaking the perfect camping trip.
Over the years, I’ve made note of things I’ve done or others have done that have made my camping experience that much better. Here are 7 rules I live by when camping with friends to ensure my trip is as easy and fun as it should be. I hope you find these tips helpful the next time you hit the backcountry with your friends!
Rule #1: Always bring more food than you think you will need.
When you are camping out in the middle of the woods, your options to go out and grab food are slim. Make sure to pack enough snacks for you AND your friends to keep everyone happy throughout your camping trip. I know my go-to snacks include:
- Granola Bars
- Bark thins
- Peanut Butter and Bread
- Trail Mix
- Candy or a sweet treat
Having a good range of snacks will ensure that everyone’s hunger needs are met. If you don’t see your favorite camping snacks above, leave a comment below! We’d love to get some snacking inspo’.
Rule #2: Make sure you keep your space clean and leave no trace.
There is nothing worse than a campsite covered in trash and wrappers. Be sure to clean your space, whether it be food or dishes, and not have your friends do it. Not only does it keep your camp mates happy, but it also keeps Mother Nature happy as well. An important reminder is the 7 principles of ‘Leave No Trace’. These rules help remind people how to enjoy nature while also coexisting with it. Read up on those 7 principles here. A good tip I was given and a great way to easily reduce the mess is to have a designated trash can and dishes station. This will reduce clutter and a messy campsite!
Another very important reminder is to clean your campsite before leaving. There is nothing worse than arriving at a beautiful campsite and looking at the ground to see chip wrappers and empty cans. Do your part to help keep our outdoors clean if not for you but for those around and after you!
Rule #3: Do not overpack and take up too much room in the tent.
My friends and I love to make sure we have all the right clothing and equipment before heading out into the woods, however when we bring too much stuff, it can cause a mess! Before heading out into the woods, make a simple and easy packing list of things to bring so your tent is not overflowing. Remember, pack light and bring essential items only. My go-to items when packing for a camping trip include:
- A Big, Comfy Fleece - A versatile item that’s great for keeping you warm by the fire and to use as a pillow when sleeping.
- Headlamp - makes for walking around camp after sundown a hands-free breeze.
- Eye Mask - This is more for the snoozers out there but the sun rises early in the backcountry and if you are hoping to catch a few more zzz’s, you won’t regret bringing one.
- Slip on Shoes - Nobody likes putting on big, hot, hiking boots once you’re back at camp for the evening. I love bringing a pair of slides to throw on to relax in that keeps my feet from tracking dirt into the tent without the cumbersome task of lacing up boots.
Packing light will get easier the more you go out into the woods and see what essentials you actually need. I love those items above but each person will find their camping style.
Rule #4: Coordinate with your camp buddies to ensure you are all bringing the right stuff.
You want to make sure everyone knows who is supposed to bring what. Imagine driving out into the woods to find out nobody brought the stovetop or even the tent. Before heading out, make sure you and your buddies know who is bringing what, and this will make for a more efficient setup and more time to enjoy the woods.
Rule #5: Make sure you and your buddies know each other’s camping experience.
There is nothing worse than a friend asking you to set up a tent and you don’t know how and before you know it, it is already 10 pm and the tent isn’t set up yet. This is the perfect time and experience to learn so make sure to have an honest conversation with your friends to ensure everyone is on the same page. This will allow for a more relaxing and enjoyable trip.
Rule #6: One of the most important tips is to make sure to bring some games!
I can’t think of anything better than hanging out in the woods and playing some games with your friends. It is as easy as a simple deck of cards or bringing some Yahtzee. Be the friend that thought ahead and wanted to make sure everyone would have a great time. A personal favorite in my friend group is Monopoly deal - this is a great game for 2-5 players and can get you very competitive.
Rule #7: Finally, Have fun!
Being outside is a great way to destress and connect with nature. Remember to smile and enjoy the experience. Talk to your camp buddies and get to know your surroundings more. The best part of camping is immersing yourself in your surroundings - so ditch the phone and be present. If you’re lucky and go on a sunny weekend, enjoy the sun and soak up that Vitamin D.
Camping with your friends makes lifelong and unique memories that you one day will get to share! So next time you decide to head out into the woods with your closest friends remember to be the best camping companion you can be, whether it be through my tips or your own. Leave a comment below on any tips you live by when you go camping with your best friends!
Happy camping everyone!
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