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How to Plan a Camping Family Reunion

recipes for a camping family reunionA camping trip is a great way to hold a family reunion.  Many extended families take annual camping trips, letting the cousins play together in the great outdoors while the aunts and uncles enjoy hikes and time around the campfire with grandma and grandpa.  

Whether your family reunion involves five people or fifty, you’re going to need a plan for feeding them all.  Every family is different, so be sure to consult yours before you decide on a plan.  For instance, you might find that some of your campers like to sleep in and would prefer to handle their own breakfast instead of having a mandatory 8 a.m. scrambled-egg feast.  Or your group might like to do all of its cooking communally.  Here are a few ideas for ways to handle the meals on a multi-family trip:

On Your Own

This is the easiest method, but it also prevents the group from enjoying meals together.  In this method, each family brings its own food and feeds itself.  The downside is that there is more total cooking time involved, since each family has to spend time preparing every meal, instead of sharing the load.  But if you have people with special dietary needs in your group, this might be a practical choice.

Rotating Meals

With this method, draw up a schedule of all the meals that will be shared by the group during the trip.  Assign the meals so that every family is responsible for one dinner, one lunch, etc, until all the meals are filled.  Try to make the balance as fair as possible.  Let every family know their assignment well in advance, and leave them free to decide what to make.  That family is responsible for buying and bringing all the ingredients, and preparing and serving the meal.  The fun element of this plan is that everyone gets a chance to share their cooking with the group, and it can help people get to know each other better.  Everyone remembers Uncle Jim’s chili and Aunt Emily’s amazing grilled ham and cheese sandwiches!


This is best for shorter trips or one-night get-togethers, but if your group is a big fan of the potluck, it can be made to work for a longer trip, too.  With the potluck, every family is assigned one dish to bring to a particular meal.  One family might be assigned the salad while another handles the drinks and dessert, another does the main course, another does the sides, etc.  
If you use the potluck method, it’s best to rotate the main course assignment, so no one family has to bear that burden for meal after meal.  Although you might have a family member who is more than happy to spend their time cooking the main course for the group.  For instance, if grandma is in an RV while the rest of the family is camping in tents, she might generously offer to cook the main courses on her stove.  Read more about potlucks.

Potluck Recipes

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

Beer Steamed Clams

Wild Salmon Chili

Make Your Own Tacos

Slow Cooker Mexican Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Cake

Jerk Rub Grilled Turkey

Back-up Plan

Whatever method you choose, be sure to have a back-up plan.  If you’re doing rotating meals and Auntie Silvie serves a liver and mushroom casserole that little Frank won’t eat, you’ll be glad to have the makings of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich handy.  By the same token, if you’re planning to do all of your cooking over a campfire, be prepared for a rainy day.  Is there a nearby restaurant everyone could agree on?  Or can someone bring back-up sandwich makings?  You could bring a camp stove or two and be ready to cook under a covered pavilion or rely on RV kitchens for quick-serve soup or pasta