In order to run a successful camp need to ask yourself the following questions.
Why are we going camping?
Do we have a programme?
How many campers do we have?
Do you have enough good quality leaders?
When do you want to camp?
Transport?How many people can th bus take?
Why do you intend running this camp?Is it in order to teach lifeskills,groom leaders,hold a conference? There are a few reasons for this,the first is that it is going to be very difficult to gather support for the camp if you cant explain why the camp is necessary.Secondly,many campsites are not keen to accept just any group who doesn't know why they are there.Thirdly,if you are going to get leaders for the group,you are definitely going to need to explain to them why they need to be leaders. (More detail under the leaders section)
The time of year is important to your camp for several reasons,lets start with possibilities of getting discount.Many campsites are privately owned and will be prepared to discuss special rates,in fact even those owned by organisations will sometimes be prepared to give a couple of bucks off,that is if you ask at the correct times off course.
Winter over Summer
Obviously everyone wants to camp in the Summer when its boiling hot and the general impression is that the campers will spend there days lounging around the pool.In fact most campers spend very little time around the pool so there are huge advantages to camping in Winter.For one,fewer people camp in winter because its cold so there is more chance of having the camping site all to yourself and for the same reason there is more chance of getting a discount on your camping rates.
Midweek over weekends
If there is any chance of doing your camp from Monday to Friday go for it,once again most campsites are very quiet throughout the week so its easier to gets discounts and/or have the campsite to yourself.Naturally this does not apply to school holidays and even when there are public holidays involved.
School Holidays - Definately no special rates here
If you want to go camping in school holidays be prepared to book well in advance,everyone wants those dates so they get booked out quickly.Campsites know that they don't need to give special rates during these times because they get booked out so far in advance therefore your chances of getting a discount are as close to zero as it gets.
On every camp there must be leaders otherwise you will have chaos and achieve nothing but frustration for yourself and everyone involved.You can decide if they will be volunteering or if you be giving them a donation or paying them.Either way ,your leaders need to buy into whatever it is you're trying to achieve ,if they don't your going to struggle to achieve anything.
Opinions differ on how many campers one should have per leader but on average its about 7 and certainly never more than 10 and thats a stretch.
Getting good leaders can be one of the more challenging areas of arranging a camp so be sure to arrange more than necessary as you can be sure that they will not all arrive on the day.
Your program is part of the why of your camp,if you don't know why your going you're not going to have much of a program.You also dont want to have a bunch of campers sitting around getting bored and finding things to complain about.The best camps are usually the ones with the most activities,they dont have to be super impressive activities that know one has ever thought of before.The trick is just to get the camp goers interacting.
Its best to discuss certain times with the campsite personeel while you are in the planning stage of the camp like meal times and tuck shop times,put these into your program and stick to them.If you speak to a few campsite personnel you will soon find that they almost unanimously find the most frustrating things on camp are campers that are late for meals and tuck shop.
The reasons for this are
- If you are late for your meals the food starts to dry out so you get blue eggs and tough meat,naturally the campers look at the cooks for this but its actually the camp directors fault for being late.
- Also,this means that the staff have to stay later to clean up which is bad for the moral.
- The third reason is that they work longer hours on overtime rates so it also costs the campsite more.
- The same applies to the tuck shop,to have someone sitting waiting for camp people to arrive is a waist of time and money.
It will really benefit your relationship with the campsite if you stick to the campsites designated times.
Meal times are usually
08:00 for Breakfast
13:00 for Lunch
18:00 for Supper
with tuck shop times being 11:00 and 15:00
Allow yourself time in your programme for errors,things never run completely on time for the whole camp so add on an extra 45 minutes to the end of your programme for anything that was not completed during the day or add an extra 10 minutes to each activity to make sure that you have more than enough time.
Its pretty much unanimous from campground managers around the country that this is the most common error amongst camping groups.So bearing this in mind,the rules to obey when calculating the amount of campers in your group are
Always underestimate your camp numbers by at least 10 percent.
Always underestimate your camp numbers.
Always obey rules 1 and 2.
You need to have some idea as to how many delegates you are expecting on your camp.This is imperative with regard to choosing your campsite,calculations towards catering,transport etc You can rest assured that pretty much any campground manager will have no problem if you bring more people than you said you would but if you bring less than the agreed amount you are going to have a grumpy manager.
When considering where to hold your camp you need to consider a few things like
- Does the campsite provide for special diets? Some sites are not suited to special diets and you may find your vegetarians and vegans living on pasta,this of course is not good unless off course they are carbo loading for the Comrades.As another example,there are those who try to make vegetarian dishes taste like meat whereas many (if not all) vegetarians actually dont like the taste of meat.(That is why they are vegetarians).
- Does the campground provide for the physically disabled? In my opinion most do not,so please be sure to enquire and take this into consideration.
- What is your budget? Campsite prices vary widely so get a few prices before you make your decision.
- What activities or facilities does the campground have?If you are intending to go camping with the older generation or if your facilitators are very good then activities may not be important.Keep in mind that the last thing you want is bored campers so be sure you can keep them busy at least most of the time.
- What is your age group.Older campers probably will not be particularly concerned with activities and will probably be on more of a conference type camp.Younger groups will need lots of activity and exercise which in turn will keep them out of mischief and help them get to bed early thus allowing you some sleep.
- Ablutions - Some campsites have ablution blocks not en-suites,please take this into consideration.
Getting this wrong could cost you a lot of money.
Your transport will usually consist of either cars,mini buses,buses or a combination of the these.Our larger groups tend to use buses which usually carry sixty campers.
A bus costs anything from five thousand rand to seven thousand rand and more,because of this you don't want a bus half full as that would be a waste of money.
So if you are planning on using buses for your camp:
Its probably not a good idea to use buses for a group of say thirty or fourty campers as it would cost too much per person.For this you would consider rather increasing your camp numbers or just using mini buses.
Also if you are considering a camp of eighty campers it might make more sense to rather limit your camp size to sixty or seventy campers so that you only need one bus and maybe two cars.
You could also decide to rather increase the number of your camp to a hundred and twenty campers and hire two full buses instead of using mini buses.
So in my opinion your transport arrangement will look something like this.
1-8 campers = Cars
8-30 = Mini buses
30-35 = Mini buses and a car
35-50 = I suggest either decreasing or increasing your numbers to at least sixty campers.A bus would be expensive for his amount of campers and mini buses would be as well.
50-80 campers = A bus and mini buses
80-100 campers = Consider dropping your numbers to seventy campers so that you can use one bus or increasing your numbers to a hundred an twenty campers and use two buses.Off course you can always add mini buses if you need them.
100-160 campers = two buses and mini buses and cars
160-200 campers = three buses and mini buses and cars