Even the most patient, expert campers can lose their composure when camping out with family. However, camping out with very big families that do not have much camping experience would cause the Fonz himself to lose his cool. Doing things with family for some reason makes things more difficult than even having to do something with a complete stranger. Maybe it’s because your family knows you as the person that used to eat chapstick and stick red hots up your nose when you were younger. A stranger would have more respect for you!
Generally, in almost everything in life, the more people you add to a vacation or adventure, the more complicated it gets. It is much easier to get on the same page if only a few people are involved. When ten or more people are involved, suddenly everything becomes more difficult. The easiest decisions are debated like the fate of the world is at stake. Feelings get hurt quickly and emotions run high. Every hour that goes by seems like you are one hour closer to starring in your very own Dateline Murder Mystery.
Camping can bring the very best out, or the very worst out, in a big family. It all depends on each individual’s personality. And if each individual has taken their medication. There will be a lot to tolerate, but everyone will hopefully emerge from the experience even closer than when they started.
Speaking from Experience
If it sounds like I am being a bit dramatic, that camping with a huge family cannot be that tough, then obviously you do not come from a large family. I am the middle child of nine kids, so including my parents, we have eleven people in our family. Now I know what you are thinking. You have seen a couple of those old Brady Bunch episodes where they all went camping and had cute little adventures and funny circumstances happened to them in light-hearted ways. Everything was hilarious and all problems were solved in half an hour. However, if you aren’t careful, after a bad camping experience with family, it might take half a century to solve all the problems!
Choose Your Site Wisely
When camping with your big family, realize that whether you know it or not, you are going to be loud. Pick out a suitable campsite where other campers won’t be annoyed by the amount of noise your crew is making. Also, you will need a good amount of space. Unlike my family when we used to go camping for a week at numerous campgrounds every summer as we traveled east to visit our relatives in New York, you probably want to bring more than just one tent.
Our tent instructions read that we could sleep five in the tent. Of course my father was never one to read instructions. We slept all eleven in the tent. Arms and legs were everywhere. Suffocation was a real threat. We have all heard the saying that less is more. That doesn’t pertain to camping tent space. More is more.
Plan Your Time Wisely
When getting to the campsite, get there early enough where you can see your total surroundings. There were times when we would be pulling up to a campsite in our old van when it was already dark. Our tent was a complicated one with dozens of poles. Try to set up one of these tents in the dark as you are getting eaten alive my mosquitoes.
My father once had us set our tent up in the dark at a campsite by using the van’s headlights to illuminate everything. The next morning our van’s battery was dead and the vehicle wouldn’t start. It is always good to bring plenty of flashlights and lanterns instead of having to do everything in complete darkness.
Gone are the days when kids didn’t need constant supervision. I remember as a child being given a rusty pocket knife when I was about seven years old and being told to go explore the miles and miles of ravines behind our house. Now this might have been my parents’ first attempt to get rid of me and thin out the pack, or they were just not worried about what I might get myself into. Back then nobody was wearing a seatbelt either, and being safe in the car was considered not having kids hanging out the windows. Safety was not a major thought.
When camping with a large family, especially young kids, safety should be the number one priority. Keep all sharp items away from the kids. Hide the matches and the lighters in a good spot so no one has to force you to plant a new forest after burning the old one down. A bright idea would be to pair every adult or near adult up with a younger child and make them responsible for their safety. Maybe even tag the kids with some gps device in case they wander off. If crazy Uncle Darryl happens to come along camping with you though, do not pair him up with anyone. Use him as an example for the youth on what not to do.
There are several first aid kits available for being out in the wilderness. Choose the one that is right for you. Consider not only the people that are coming along, but also the location where you are camping at. If you know there are poisonous spiders and other creatures that might interrupt your family adventure, then plan accordingly. Don’t wait to think about it until it actually happens. Nothing is worse than a nagging wife while you are driving, except a screaming and nagging wife while you are driving your kid to the emergency room.
Good Food and Drink
No matter if everything goes wrong on your camping trip, everything can still be salvaged by having good food and drinks. Be sure to pack enough food for an army. It is best to have too much rather than too little. Sitting around a roaring campfire, telling stories, and enjoying each other’s company is what family camping is all about! A lifetime of memories can be had when enjoying the wilderness with the people that know you best!