5 Tips for Throwing a Family Reunion Camping Trip

Throwing a family reunion at a campsite can be an excellent opportunity for family members to rekindle old relationships and forge new ones. There’s something special about combining a family gathering with the great outdoors!

A campsite offers an affordable and exciting environment with plenty of activities for kids and adults alike to learn, exercise, and have a great time bonding outdoors. It really is a fun idea for the entire family.

Here are a few tips for holding a camping family reunion.

1. Pick The Date and Communicate

The first step is to pick a date that works with everyone’s schedule. For example, if you want to hold the event during summer vacation, plan it around June or July. This will give your guests enough time off from school and work so they don’t feel too rushed.

If you want to hold the reunion during winter break, choose a weekend when most schools are closed so your guests won’t miss any classes. Also, ensure you communicate this information to them well before the event. You may even consider sending out invitations so people know what day and time they should arrive. 

2. The Campgrounds Venue Location: Plan ahead!

Pick The Right Venue

Do you want to stay at state or national parks, public campgrounds, or go to a more upscale camping resort? Are you staying in a tent, a cabin, or does your family want to use campers? Understanding your accommodation options will inform your decision about where you can stay.

Can you pick a location that is centrally located for all participants? It doesn’t matter if you find the perfect location if people can’t make the trip to it.

It’s also important that your venue has amenities like showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi so that everyone stays connected while they are away from home.

If your reunion is large enough, consider renting out the entire campground. This is obviously subject to the budget and what each family is willing to pay.

Book Your Campsite or Cabin Early!

Don’t think a reservation won’t be necessary just because it is a campsite or cabin. These types of accommodations can run out of space quickly!

Campsites can fill up just as quickly as a hotel, especially early during the summer and on three-day weekends. Suppose you have a large or extended family attending. In that case, getting enough spots for everyone can be difficult if you do it at the last minute. Instead, book the campsites as early as possible so you won’t be scrambling for tent spaces.

Include a Suggested Packing List

Some people in the family may never have camped before. Camping is very different from staying at a hotel resort. By letting everyone know what they will need, you can help make sure everything goes smoothly. During the hot summer, suggest bug spray and sunscreen. During cooler months, warm sleeping bags and for the young ones, but kids footed pajamas may be better.

3. Meals, Foods, Snacks, and More!

Some sites may be far from the nearest grocery store or restaurant, even if you are just car camping. By planning ahead, you can spend more time having a reunion and less time driving around hungry.

When packing food, consider how much you expect your group to eat. Do you want to pack snacks for everyone? Will there be refrigeration? If not, bring plenty of nonperishable items like granola bars, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, juices, etc.

You might also want to include a few easy meals to prepare. For example, you could pack sandwiches, ramen noodles, freeze-dried meals, canned soups, chili, hotdogs (Vienna sausages if you don’t want to worry about refrigeration), and other foods that require little preparation. 

Here’s a short list of other camping-friendly foods to get you thinking:

  • Baked Beans
  • Canned tuna or tuna in a pouch
  • Peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes 

4. Have An Itinerary of Events and Activities

Planning events and activities for the entire group can be challenging, especially with all the different personalities involved. However, by creating a schedule of events and activities, you can ensure that everyone gets to participate in something fun and memorable.

Create a Schedule of Events and Activities

Create a list of events and activities that everyone wants to attend. Of course, some families may not want to participate in every activity listed. Still, it is always good to have options. For instance, if someone wants to learn how to play golf, they should be able to find that option on the agenda.

Make Sure Everyone Gets To Participate In Something Fun And Memorable

You might think everyone would love to go hiking, but not everyone enjoys being outside. Make sure that everyone participates in something they enjoy doing, whether it is playing sports, swimming, or participating in arts and crafts projects. The key is having a variety of activities that anyone can choose from.

Have a S’Mores Competition

While sharing hobbies and talents is great, a little sibling (or family) rivalry can be a fun way to add a competitive element to the activities.

One fun thing to do is to make a gourmet s’more contest. For this, first split up into teams of 4 or 5 people, or just by family units (but this can be tricky at multi-generational reunions).

Then it is up to each team to come up with and create the fanciest, most gourmet, and most delicious s’more they can. Some ideas for ingredients to help get you started are marshmallow fluff, caramel, banana, and peanut butter. Make enough for each team to try one, and then one extra — the winning team can collect this as a bonus!

Family story competition

After everyone has feasted on s’mores and changed into their pajamas, the same teams can compete around the campfire to see who can tell the best family story.

To make the activity last longer and give each team more opportunities to win, you may want to have a few rounds with different themes. For example, one round could be the best baby story, and the next could be the funniest story about meeting a future husband or wife.

There is no end to the topics you can do, and then, once the youngest kids have been tucked into their beds — err, sleeping bags – those who are still up can finish off the night with some scary ghost stories.

5. Take Advantage of the Learning Opportunities

The camping environment can be a great opportunity for adults and kids to try new things.

Stargazing

For example, suppose there is a family member who is an amateur astronomer. In that case, they can give everyone a lesson on stargazing under the bright night’s sky, out in the wilderness where there is less light pollution. If a different family member is an avid hunter, they can teach everyone about tracking.

Fishing

If your family has a fishing enthusiast, they can take them to a fishing dock on the park property and show them how to prepare a fishing pole, cast, or catch fish.

Cooking

The skills don’t need to be unique to the outdoors either. For example, are you a skilled cook? You can teach people how to grill over an open fire.

Having people share their special skills can be a great icebreaker for family members you haven’t seen in a long time or never met. It is a terrific way to get everyone engaged while providing structure to the family reunion.

More Ideas for Your Family Reunion Camping Trip

There are so many topics to cover that we can’t cover them all, but here are some more ideas to consider:

Welcome or Departing Gifts

It’s also worth thinking about a welcome or a departing gift so the camping trip can be remembered for years. You can do something simple like stickers or a bit more substantial like a family reunion shirt or family reunion travel mug.

Time capsule

Time capsules are more than a fun way to save memories and artifacts from a time that has passed. They are also a promise to return and retrieve them, which can mean another family reunion in the future!

It should go without saying, but don’t bury your time capsule on public land. Instead, take it back to your house to bury it.

Adults can have a blast filling up a time capsule with pictures from the family reunion. They can also come up with fun questions and answer forms to put in the time capsule, like how much they think a gallon of gas will cost or who will be president when the time capsule is opened back up in X years.

It is great for kids too, because they can put in their plans for where they will be when it is opened up again. I suggest you set a reminder on a digital calendar so you can remember to open your time capsule (and where it was buried) years from now!

Final Thoughts

A family reunion in the great outdoors offers plenty of opportunities for fun, learning, and fresh air. However, if you don’t have enough structure, people may just end up sitting in their tents.

For more games and activities, check out our family reunion games and activities lists to help plan every day of your family reunion camping trip!

By following a few tips, like planning ahead and coming up with a few activities beforehand, you may be able to help ensure that everyone has a great time!

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