Are you tired of the same old family gatherings in stuffy homes or banquet halls? Why not consider taking your family reunion outdoors for a change? Camping offers the perfect opportunity to bond, share stories, and create lasting memories in a natural setting. In this comprehensive checklist-style guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to host a fantastic family reunion while camping, ensuring everyone has a great time and you don’t miss any details when planning
Step 1. Determine the Date
Picking the right date is crucial. Check everyone’s availability and consider school schedules, work commitments, and any other obligations. A weekend getaway or an extended holiday can work well, depending on your family’s preferences.
Many campgrounds fill up early, so you may need to make reservations as far as a year in advance – especially if you are planning on a popular summer holiday (like 4th of July, Labor Day, or Memorial Day).
Step 2. Create a Guest List
Compile a list of family members and decide who to invite. Reach out to relatives near and far to ensure inclusivity. You might also want to consider inviting close family friends who are like family. Get a rough estimate of how many people you need to plan for.
Step 3. Set a Budget
Calculate the total cost, including campsite fees, food, activities, and any special arrangements. Discuss the budget with family members to ensure everyone is comfortable with their financial contribution.
Step 4. Choose the Perfect Camping Location
Once you have a date, general idea of number of attendees, and a budget you are ready to start looking for the perfect campground for your family reunion. The main factors to consider are:
Family-friendly campgrounds: you need a campground that caters to all ages, especially children. Everything will be more fun and smoother if there are playgrounds, game rooms, paths to bike on, and children’s activities already set up. For Mountain Mat’s curated list of family-friendly campgrounds around the USA – organized by State – click here.
Accessibility: Make sure it’s easy for all family members to reach, especially elderly or less mobile relatives.
Amenities: Look for campgrounds with necessary facilities like restrooms, hot showers, and picnic areas. Many campgrounds have pavilions to rent (just be sure to do this as early as possible) and its sometimes even possible to rent out the whole clubhouse or pool – never hurts to ask!
Activities: Think about the recreational opportunities nearby, such as hiking trails, fishing spots, or swimming areas. Also consider if you want to organize all family activities or if you’d rather the campground host activities. Many resort-type campgrounds have nightly entertainment (live music or movies), arts and crafts, and organized outdoor sports games.
Lodging options: Consider what kind of camping your family members want to do. Does everyone in your family own a RV? Will some people need cabins? Look for a campground/resort that has different types of campsites – from pull-in RV style to tent sites to deluxe cabins. You want everyone to have a spot they feel comfortable in.
Step 5: Send out Invitations
It’s imperative to get family reunion invites out early. People need to block their calendars, make work arrangements and transportation arrangements.
We like sending e-vites because they are cheap (heck, they are FREE our very favorite price!) but if you have less computer savvy family members, be sure to send out a mailed invite. Some people get fancy and send out ‘save the date’ magnets and some people just send out text messages. Whatever works for your family!
We also like to set up a group Facebook Page for the family reunion. Anyone in your family with a Facebook account can see your updates, take polls, and post notes to the rest of the group. It’s a good way to get everyone excited about the big reunion!
Step 6. Plan the Meals
Food is an essential part of any camping trip. Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure there’s enough for everyone. Consider dietary restrictions and preferences, and don’t forget the marshmallows for campfire s’mores!
– Breakfast: Prepare easy-to-make options like cereal, granola, and instant oatmeal.
– Lunch: Opt for sandwiches, wraps, or salads that are simple to assemble. Ordering pizzas is always a hit!
– Dinner: Plan a campfire feast with foil packet meals, grilled veggies, and burgers.
– Snacks: Stock up on trail mix, fruits, and snacks for between meals.
– Beverages: Have large ice chests stocked with bottled water, sodas, sparkling waters, and juice boxes so everyone can stay hydrated throughout the day.
Step 7. Assign Cooking Duties
Divide cooking responsibilities among family members to avoid any one person getting overwhelmed. Create a schedule for cooking and clean-up to ensure everyone contributes.
Step 8. Plan Gear and Equipment
Ensure everyone has the necessary camping gear:
– Tents and sleeping bags: Make sure there are enough for everyone, and that they’re in good condition.
– Camp chairs and tables: Comfortable seating is essential for campfire gatherings.
– Cooking equipment: Bring stoves, cookware, utensils, and firewood.
– First aid kit: Safety should always be a priority.
Step 9. Time to delegate!
You might be the main planner for this family reunion, but you’ll burn yourself out if you don’t pass out responsibilities to others. As the main organizer, look for family members who can handle sub-tasks such as:
Historian: this person is in charge of making a single spot for everyone to upload reunion photos to (you can use dropbox or a photo website like snapfish or Shutterfly). After the reunion, your family historian can make a photobook and send out the link for anyone who would like to buy a copy. It’s a super way to relive all the fun from the reunion and get to see everyone’s photos!
Financial Manager: this person keeps tabs on the group budget, pays bills from the main fund, and tracks expenses.
Kitchen/Menu Coordinator: this person makes sure all the meals have people signed up for cooking/prep duty and ensures the right amounts of food are purchased ahead of time.
Entertainment Coordinator: this person should be your fun/zany relative who is known for always having a great time. They will manage the fun activities over the reunion and help keep everyone involved and making wonderful memories.
Clean Up Coordinator: this person needs to be one of the strong authority figures of your group because they are the ones in charge of making sure everyone helps clean up after meals, events, and at the end of the reunion.
Master Host: this person is in charge of greeting everyone as they arrive, helping with campsite arrangements, and making sure everyone gets settled, and communicating with the campground hosts. If you have a very large group, you may need a couple people working this job.
Stop 10. Plan Activities
This step should be worked with your appointed Entertainment Coordinator. Consider the interests of your family members and plan accordingly. Here are some tried and true camping activities that are perfect for large groups:
– Hiking: Choose trails suitable for all fitness levels.
– Fishing: Check if fishing is allowed at your campsite (and if licenses are needed)
– Boating: If you are on a lake and there are canoe rentals – you can get everyone into a boat! Little ones and elderly don’t have to paddle.
– Campfire stories: Share family stories and tales around the campfire. This is also a wonderful time to share stories of family members who have passed on – bringing ancestors to life for the next generation.
– Games: Bring board games, cards, and outdoor games like frisbee or volleyball.
– Nature walks: Explore the local flora and fauna with a guided walk.
– Scavenger hunt: Organize a fun activity for kids and adults alike.
Step 11. Keep Safety in Mind
Safety should be a top priority during your camping family reunion:
– Share emergency contact information.
– Establish campsite rules, especially for children.
– Ensure everyone knows basic first aid.
– Keep a watchful eye on the campfire and follow fire safety guidelines.
Step 12. Plan Themed Nights
To add excitement to your camping reunion, consider themed nights. Here are a few ideas:
– Campfire talent show: Showcase your family’s hidden talents.
– Movie night under the stars: Bring a projector and screen for an outdoor movie experience.
– Costume party: Choose a fun theme and encourage everyone to dress up.
– Stargazing night: Learn about constellations and the night sky together.
Step 13. Practice Leave No Trace Principles
Camping is a fantastic way to connect with nature, so it’s crucial to minimize your impact on the environment. Teach your family members about Leave No Trace principles:
– Pack out all trash and litter.
– Stay on designated trails and campsites.
– Respect wildlife by observing from a distance.
– Use biodegradable soap and dispose of wastewater properly.
Step 14. Communicate and Stay Flexible
Effective communication is key to a successful camping reunion. Keep everyone informed about the schedule, changes, and activities. However, also be flexible and open to adjustments based on the group’s preferences and weather conditions.
Step 15. Prepare for Weather
Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Make sure you have rain gear, extra clothing layers, and warm blankets in case the temperature drops at night.
Step 16. Respect Quiet Hours
Many campgrounds have designated quiet hours to ensure everyone has a peaceful night’s sleep. Be considerate of your fellow campers by keeping noise levels down during these times.
Step 17. Embrace Nature
One of the primary reasons for camping is to immerse yourself in nature. Encourage your family members to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, whether it’s the sunrise, the sound of birds, or the rustling leaves in the breeze.
Step 18. Celebrate Family Traditions and Important Milestones
Take this opportunity to celebrate your family’s unique traditions. Whether it’s a special meal, a dance, or a heartfelt ceremony, these traditions can create meaningful connections and lasting memories. This is also a great time to congratulate those family members who have achieved an important milestone such as:
- New baby/adoption
- New job
Step 19. Reflect and Share
On the final day of your camping family reunion, gather around the campfire one last time to reflect on the experience. Share your favorite moments, lessons learned, and what you’re grateful for.
In conclusion, hosting a family reunion while camping can be an incredible bonding experience that brings your loved ones closer to nature and each other. By following this checklist and planning thoughtfully, you can ensure that your camping family reunion is a memorable and enjoyable event for everyone involved. So, grab your tents, prepare your campers, pack your bags, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors with your beloved family members. Happy camping!