Five tips to improve your group canoe camping trip

Group Canoe Camping Trip

There are few outdoor activities more enjoyable than a canoe camping trip with others who enjoy the outdoors as much as you do. But canoe camping is one of those activities where things can go from great to bad with even the slightest interference from mother nature or a hazardous paddler. While it’s never possible to guarantee a good time for everyone on the trip there are a few steps that might make your trip easier, more enjoyable, and safer. 

Here are five easy tips to make your canoe camping trip more enjoyable for the entire group. 

  1. Plan according to the weather. Some people are always prepared for the worst and some are never prepared, so schedule your group trip to occur during good weather conditions and have an alternative date to reschedule if necessary. For many paddlers the most enjoyable canoe camping season is from mid spring to early summer.  
  2. Plan your trip in detail and ahead of time.When rushed into a trip we increase our chances of unpreparedness, so begin planning the trip well in advance and communicate your efforts and individual responsibilities to the group to eliminate any surprises. Example: the entire group should be aware of trip distance, arrival time, exact location, daily itinerary, vehicle shuttle responsibilities, and any specific campsite responsibilities well in advance of the trip.
  3. In large groups everybody is responsible for their own food and cooking. This might sound like an inefficient way to prepare for a group trip but my experience tells me this method works best. When group members are responsible for their own meals they usually come well prepared and have plenty to share. So even the slackers who don’t bother to pack any food will eat like kings. And don’t be surprised if using this method results in some of the best camping meals of your life.
  4. Be aware of the inexperienced paddlers and make an effort to keep the entire group together. This might seem like a no-brainer but on more than one occasion I’ve experienced seemingly confident paddlers who actually had no paddling experience and resulted in a hazard or mishap. And remember there is inherent safety within a group of paddlers as opposed to paddling alone.
  5. As the trip leader select one experienced group member to co-manage the trip with you. Most paddlers will go with the flow but you occasionally get the outlier who disrupts the group by wanting to do things his own way. Having another paddler back your decisions increases cooperation, builds harmony and confidence within the group, and ultimately is a safer, more enjoyable trip for everyone.

And remember that as your group gains experience the planning gets easier because with experience comes the confidence to take care of yourself. 

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