For those of you who don’t know, I organize the biggest Dachshund activity club in Seattle – the Adventurewiener Club. Our activities include hiking, dog park play dates, local pet events and the like. Now we can add “camping” to our list.
I organized a camping trip to Deception Pass State Park, located a couple of hours north of Seattle. This was my first experience organizing a group camping event with dogs. I’ve been camping on my own, or with a couple of people, many times before but I didn’t really know what to expect when a bunch of dogs where thrown into the mix. I knew this would be a learning experience.
I kept the group number low so things would be more manageable. About 10 people came with 13 Dachshunds total. The camping trip was fun overall but I certainly learned some things and there are several things I would do different next time.
Whether you are planning to go camping with a few friends and their dogs or a larger group like ours was, these tips to help you have a more enjoyable time.
- Call the campground before you go with a big group to verify how many tents are allowed and will fit on the site, or sites, you reserved or are planning to use – State Parks in Washington require reservations and the website led me to believe that 8 tents would fit between the two sites we reserved. However, when we arrived there were only 4 good tent spots and 2 marginal ones. We made it work but it wasn’t ideal. We might not have been so lucky at some campsites.
- Don’t pick a campsite in a high traffic area – Our site was about 3 feet from the road and on a busy corner. This meant that people were walking, and kids were riding their bikes, past us all of the time…which led to “intruder” barking pretty frequently. In my experience, most State Parks campgrounds are VERY popular and crowded. Reservations can start to fill up a year in advance. Next time I will remember to make a reservation earlier so I can choose a campsite a little more out of the way.
- When camping in a large group, potluck-style meals are great – Everyone can chip in, you only need to set up one or two stoves and everyone can eat at the same time instead of waiting for their turn to make their food.
- Remember that not everyone on the trip may be comfortable with alcohol – If alcohol is allowed in the campground there are two ways to approach the issue respectfully. Either make it a dry camp or make it known that alcohol is allowed but only in moderation. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, they won’t be allowed to attend future camping trips (make that known up-front too).
- If you are the organizer, sleep in your own tent – Because of the space issue, I shared a tent with my friend. That would have been ok but every time she got up, or our dogs moved around, the crinkly floor or tent zipper woke me up. Good sleep is extra important for the event organizer. It’s also nice to have your own space to retreat too.
- Bring earplugs – As the group organizer I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing them myself. I feel a responsibility to monitor what goes on with our group at all times to head-off any potential problems…and that includes in the middle of the night. However, I would suggest ear plugs to other people in our group so that they can make sure they get a good nights sleep. Besides potential issues with our own group, there were hundreds of potentially obnoxious campers, screaming children and barking dogs at the campground. Mornings are much more pleasant if everyone is rested.
- Take the dogs for a walk several times a day but especially right before bed – A tired dog is less likely to react to every little sound in the campground and sleep through the night.
Have you ever camped with a large group that included dogs? Do you have any tips to ad? If you haven’t, do you have any other questions?