Your First Day and Night
In my previous post I wrote that you should not plan your camping trip out in to much detail. That’s true, but conversely you don’t want to be totally unprepared either. There are some tasks that simply have to be done at every camp site. If you’re going with a group of folks, you’ll want to distribute tasks according to your camp-mates’ abilities. The goal with distributing the tasks is to have many tasks being accomplished in parallel so you can start relaxing as soon as possible.
- Tent Setup
When setting up a tent you first need to survey the campsite. Choose the smoothest plot you can find and walk over every bit of the land removing sticks and stones. Leaving this debris will give you a rough nights sleep and could possibly puncture your tent’s floor.Depending on your experience, personality and complexity of your tent, you should allow yourself 30 minutes to one hour to get your tent setup. Event the simplest of tents will seem complicated setting it up for the first time. Do not attempt a first setup in the dark. Having an assistant to help setup the tent can be helpful; but you’ll quickly find it takes communication and team work.Traditionally tent raising is the responsibility of the tent owner and possibly an assistant. You might however offer to put up the tent for the person in charge of the meals though.
- Camp Fire and Meal Preparation
You need one person in charge of the campfire and meal preparation. If you’ve taken my advice you’ve started with something small like charcoal fire with hot dogs and chips. In that situation you only need one person on this task. Once you’re more experienced and cooking over a wood fire, you might assign several assistants to assign with wood gathering, fire stoking, food prep. etc. But, even with assistance, there should be only one person in charge of meals.
- Clean Up
Having a clean camp site is critical for your enjoyment and safety. As you’re cooking keep utensils and dishes out of the dirt and covered. It’s traditional that everyone help clean up after a meal by cleaning their own dishes or assisting the cook in some other way.Left overs should be stored in air tight containers and stowed in your car or suspended high in a tree where wildlife can’t get at it. Extra caution should be taken in bear country, but that’s another post. If you need to dispose of excess food (burnt, leftovers, etc.) do so some distance from the camp site.If you’re at an established camp site there will probably be some restrooms available. Be a good neighbor and make use of these. If you are primitive camping, establish a latrine area at the outset of your camp setup and make sure everyone is aware of it’s location.
The Next Morning
You’ll be surprised at how early the sun comes up the next morning. Rule of thumb, whomever is in charge of breakfast is the first one up and out of the tent. Fire is the first priority since you’ll need it to make coffee and the meal; and possibly to stay warm.
By the time the meal is eaten you’ll find folks break up into work teams naturally. Someone will assist the cook with clean up and the others will move on to prepping the tents for take down.
When prepping your tent, make sure it’s as dry as possible before you start rolling it up. I’ve actually spread a tent out in a sunny spot and waited around for it to dry before rolling it up. If that’s not an option due to time limitation or weather, wring it out as you roll and remember to unpack it when you get home to dry it out. Leaving a tent rolled wet will guarantee mildew which will harm your tent and possibly you the next time you use it.