I called my camping/survival expert buddy last night, talked about setting up a novice trip and recruiting novices, as well as looking for donations of used but usable equipment to use for loaners, such as tents. Setting up a group-but-individual trip is going to require some planning, so we’re going to start looking for interested people who would like to try camping. Anyone participating would supply their own transportation to the chosen campground, own sleeping bag/bed roll, and contribute to a group fund for meals on a per-person basis. Group based activities would include learning how to set up a tent (the one they will actually be using) and how to prepare meals. Short hikes on the park’s trails would be taken, as desired, to learn some of the outdoorsy stuff, and the families will have time to choose their own activities and participate in park activities. Each family would also be responsible to make their own reservations at the chosen park for the chosen weekend, which would include Friday and Saturday nights, returning home on Sunday. Most parks charge about $16-20 per night. As we get interested people to sign up, we’ll be able to start making plans about which weekend and which park. It won’t be Memorial Weekend–it’s crowded and making reservations could be tricky even this far in advance. Fourth of July is another not weekend. I am hoping to make it early in June, but it depends on how quickly we can set this up.
The food thing, we decided that it would be simplest and less expensive if we have a centralized shopping/cooking area, coordinating meals for everyone. It also allows for the opportunity to teach about camp cookery, as well as socializing during the meal preparation and then eating it. We won’t be serving steaks-right now I’m thinking that $10 per person would be inexpensive enough that most families won’t find it too hard to afford. It’s reasonable, but the meals won’t be expensive ones either. It would buy enough supplies for 2 dinners, 1 lunch, and 2 breakfasts, along with a dessert for the evening meals. There also won’t be an ice chest full of soft drinks–that is incredibly expensive and something I’d like to discourage people from doing. Empty calories, high sodium, and too many containers! I’ll have to think about what all should be offered, and we do need something besides water. Iced tea, coffee, cocoa…what other ones would be reasonable? Lemonade? Might add beverages to the list of things people need to supply themselves, too, although discouraging alcohol is a good idea and I think state parks don’t allow it. (Not sure-we don’t bring it along!)
So, if you are interested in joining in, keep reading the blog, we’ll set up a point for sign up soon. Sign up does NOT mean that you are committed at that point to anything, you’d merely be signing up on an “I am interested” list. Dates, locations, and a number of other factors will influence who can and can’t participate. We want to find out if there is interest, how many, what ages, and what activities are of the most interest. We have decided to use a state campground because it is a safe environment, it allows “separate but together” camping so that no one feels uneasy about camping with strangers, there are facilities, and there are specific activities at each park that are of potential interest.
We are currently looking at Mississippi parks in the Gulf Coast region, but some parks are not going to be considered, such as Big Biloxi (National Park Service). Also to be considered are the “North Shore” parks in Louisiana, Tickfaw, Fairview-Riverside, and Fontainebleu. Ideally, none of the participants would have over a 90 minute drive, including the core of experienced campers that are to act as the mentors for the novices.
For finding interested people, it had been suggested that we use “MeetUp”, an online meeting service. My complaint about this service is the high cost–they apparently have monthly charges of around $15-20 for this service. That’s far too high. We’re going to have to find a less-expensive approach. I don’t know what would work at this time to find appropriately interested people in the Gulf Coast region, so that’s a research project on its own.
With that, I had best do some real work!