We’re a company of about 25 people, and we like to go camping together. A few years ago, we went on our first company camping trip at Trillium Lake near Mount Hood. Since then, we’ve made it a tradition. We try to organize at least one trip a year, but sometimes we’re over-achievers; this summer we’ve gone on two, including one to the Molalla River area.
Our camping trips aren’t orchestrated team-building events. Instead, they’re a chance to be outside and have fun. It’s too easy to get into a routine of only seeing each other in specific environments—at the office, on Slack, and by the food trucks in our neighborhood. Camping brings us together in other settings, places with bugs, trees, campfires, and stars. Places without the internet.
Even though we don’t do trust falls or icebreakers while we camp, we end up doing things that help us appreciate and learn new things about each other. We’ve gone fishing, hiked to vistas, and built a spit so we could roast a whole pig over a fire. (It was delicious.)
Because we think you should try camping with your company, here are some tips for doing it well:
- Take a poll to choose the best date. Invite families. Invite dogs.
- Find the right campsite, one that’s big enough to hold all the tents and vehicles you expect. A covered area for cooking and shelter is nice. So is a bathroom, even if it doesn’t have running water.
- Reserve the site in advance. Sure, you can wing it at a first-come-first-served site, but if a lot of people are planning to come, a reservation is better.
- Before the big weekend, share a document with all pertinent info, including clear directions to the site. Emphasize what site-specific necessities people should bring, such as firewood, drinking water, or bug repellent.
- Find out what kind of recreating can be done in the area. That way campers can pack kites, bikes, horses, skis, or fishing poles.
- Announce the food plan for all meals. Everyone can fend for themselves, share a main dish, or bring stuff for a potluck. Just be clear. Avoid surprises (except cupcakes).
- Go somewhere without internet coverage. Everyone will be more present to enjoy the experience if they’re unplugged.
- Share gear, so the people who don’t own camping gear feel welcome.
- Feel sad when not everyone in the company comes.
- Fear the unknown, which can range from going to an untested campsite to not knowing if anyone’s capable of building a fire. Just go with it.
- Talk about work. Save it for Monday.
- Plan team building activities, which can feel like work not play.
- Expect perfection. The lake might have dried up. It might rain. Someone’s tent might blow away. The dogs and the kids might puke. Just go with it.
- Forget the s’mores fixings.