Don’t Forget the Mosquito Repellent + Marshmallows

This blog further explains how the basics of camping are similar to organizing an outdoor event.

Is the campground water drinkable? Otherwise bring some gallon jugs from home. Bring some extra containers to transfer water from the community spigot so you can wash dishes.

Is water readily available at your venue and is it drinking water quality? Will you have to truck it in or run a hose? Are vendors prepared to bring in their own water?

Planning for an Outdoor Event

Clean up – Wet
You’re going to need to boil water to wash pots and utensils, even if most of what you bring is disposable. Your largest cooking pot may also serve as your sink.

Will your concessions have portable sinks and water collection tanks?

Clean up – Dry
And if you want to remove dirt that you’ve tracked into your tent, bring a small combo brush and dustpan.

Who cleans the venue site before the next day’s event?

I suspect someone will bring a guitar or harmonica. Worse case, there will be a former scout in the group that will know all the old camp songs. Remember to adhere to the campground’s quiet hours.

If you’re a music event, your entertainment needs are a bit more involved. We’ll save that for another time.

A Clamp Light
People will make fun of it, but bring it anyway. Once it’s dark, you can pull out the extension cord and clamp light and play cards on the picnic table. Bring extra bulbs too.

Find out what time the sun sets during your event and make sure you have enough power and lights available for your guests to safely move about after dark. Before the event, visit the site during the day and at night to get a truer picture.

You’ll misplace something in your tent (and if you forgot your phone recharger in order to use your flashlight app), you’ll be glad you brought it. Easier to turn it on in the middle of the night and say, “Who’s that?”

Long after everyone’s gone, your park will most likely be left in the hands of the security guards you’ve hired. They’ll watch over things until daybreak when they’ll hand the park back over to the organizers. Yes, they’ll most likely bring their own flashlights.

Outdoor Plumbing
How primitive your campground is will dictate your restroom and bathhouse experience. There is a true art to knowing when demand for the facilities is low. You won’t need to stand in line then and there should be plenty of hot water too.

Portable toilets – a good vendor knows how many you’ll need based on their experience with other events, how level the ground needs to be and what the correct ratio for regular units versus handicapped. It’s important to find out who cleans them and when? Remember to ask where the extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer is located, just in case.

If you’ve done it right, there should be less to pack out than what you brought in. Remember to bring trash bags and then carry them to the dumpster each night or you’ll get to pick it up in the morning because camp critters – raccoons to bears – are attracted by food.

You can place trashcans with liners throughout your venue, but there will be a point during your event when crowds won’t allow your volunteers to change out the liners and remove the trash. Keep a handle on it early so it’s less of a problem. You’ll be surprised how many people do pick up their trash and drop in at the trashcan on their way out. Also make arrangements with the city for extra trash pick up during your event.

While organizing an outdoor festival is much more involved, a camping trip can certainly put you in the right frame of mind to begin planning.

To learn more about event and festival management, check out “Secrets to Successful Events:  How to Organize, Promote and Manage Exceptional Events and Festivals.” For those with event planning experience, consider, “Secrets to Successful Events Resource Guide: 42+ Easy-to-Use Tools and Resources.” Both are written by internationally known author and speaker Lynn Fuhler and are available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

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