How to Get Ready for Couples Camp

This should give you just about everything you need to know for COUPLES CAMP. Have a question beyond what’s covered here? Talk to your Camp Leads.

What’s the deal with Couples Camp, anyway?

We’re all in this together. COUPLES CAMP isn’t a “sit and get” retreat. It’s an adventure that we’re all going to share. It’s going to be great!

We’re intentionally not giving you all of the answers to every possible question. You’re all smart, capable people who’ll be surrounded by others just like you. We’re just going camping for two nights. You’ve got this! Nothing worth doing is easy. That little uneasy feeling you’ve got? The “oh man, can I do this?”. That’s you being stretched. That’s growth happening, right now. That’s good stuff.

COUPLES CAMP isn’t for everyone. We’ll always choose the path less traveled. We’ll err on the side of challenge. If someone asks you if we’ll make special arrangements or exceptions for them, the answer is almost certainly a loving “No.”

There won’t be any storage accommodation for nursing moms. We love that nursing moms are coming to camp and we’ll have a small amount of extra electricity available inside a barn for pumping but there won’t be any communal refrigeration/storage available for anyone to use.

Everyone will attempt the hike with their gear. That is critical. Everyone attempts it and everyone makes it. If you need a cart to carry gear, great. Bring a cart. (We won’t be supplying carts.)

This is your event. Camp Leads are the hosts. You’ll need to work together to pull together all of your gear and provisions. We’ll provide a super simple lunch of brats and mets on Saturday, but your campsite will need to handle all the other grub and gear you’ll need. If you have any sort of dietary restrictions or special needs, make sure you take extra precautions. Lunch won’t have any special options. You’ll also need to bring some water, but we’ll provide beer and wine for everyone. (And some extra water.)

Wait, beer and wine? Yes. While it certainly isn’t the focus, it will be present.

Plan to meet with your campsite before camp. This is your chance to have everyone together, in whatever space you want. No worries if some folks aren’t available or are out of town. Just do your best.

This won’t be Couples Counseling Camp. We’re going to clear some space for God, embrace the challenge and disconnect from the everyday. CC 0001 will be 70% camping, 20% open space, and 10% content/teaching and worship. We expect God to show up in incredible ways.

The camping is primitive. There won’t be a shower house or electrical hookups. We’re all in tents. God was all about tents! How many shower houses can you find in the bible? Paul was a tentmaker, not an electrician!

Schedule

You’re carpooling with your group to a place near Neville, OH. Get details from your Camp Leads.

You’ll need to arrive (as a group) on Friday between 4:00pm and 6:30pm. We’ll shoot for departure by around 1:00pm on Sunday. As with marriage…if you’re in, you’re in for the whole thing. No late arrivals or early departures.

Communications and Emergencies

Generally, we’re off the grid during COUPLES CAMP. We’ll be turning off and collecting cell phones before we head out to the campsite. Another option is to leave it locked in your car before hiking in.

  • If there’s an emergency at home: Before COUPLES CAMP, your Camp Leads will give you a phone number for your family to call in the event of an emergency.
  • If there’s an emergency at COUPLES CAMP: We’ll have a medical response team onsite, and a way to get you from the campsite to a hospital.

What to Pack

Everything you pack needs to fit into one duffel bag and one backpack. You’ll be hiking all your gear over a mile, so pack lightly.

CLOTHES. Two main ideas: keep yourself dry, and dress in layers. Extra socks, a jacket for night, a rain layer, etc. You’ll also want sturdy boots, or something rugged enough to handle hiking in the woods all day.

TOILETRIES. You pretty much just need Wet Wipes (for cleaning up without water) and a small towel (like a shammy, just in case). A toothbrush and toothpaste is sort of optional. Don’t bother with a razor.

FOOD. We’ll supply lunch on Saturday, as well as beer/wine/soda/water. Beyond that, you’ll need to bring your own—food for dinner Friday, breakfast and dinner Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. Lunch on Sunday is up to you (we expect to be leaving the camp area by around 1pm). Bring food that can be stored without refrigeration, and that doesn’t need a whole lot of prep time (unless you’re a campfire gourmet). Clif Bars, jerky, cheese and crackers are all great options.

INDIVIDUAL CAMPING GEAR. Make sure you get ahold of all of this stuff:

  • A headlamp (a cheap one from Home Depot is fine)
  • A folding camp chair for the campfire (a crappy tailgate chair is fine; fit it on top of your duffel bag, slipped between the handles)
  • A sleeping bag (a basic one will work; it’s only 2 nights)
  • A pad to go under your sleeping bag (if you don’t have one, Google “camp thermal break DIY” to find cheap ways to do this)
  • A plate (for lunch) and bowl for other meals at your campsite
  • A cup for coffee/soda/water/beer/wine
  • A spork or other utensil
  • Earplugs (normally these would be optional, but you’ll be surrounded by at least 1,000 snoring machines)

GROUP CAMPING GEAR. Make sure you’re covered with all these between everybody in your campsite:

  • Tents
  • Lighter or waterproof matches
  • Trash bags (the big contractor sized bags)
  • A tarp (or two), along with bungees and/or rope, for building a lean-to for your group in case it rains

OPTIONAL CAMPING GEAR. Bring this if you have it, and if you have room.

  • Sunglasses
  • Pain reliever
  • Allergy meds
  • Sunscreen
  • Instant coffee
  • Dehydrated food
  • Jetboil or similar cooking system
  • Multi-tool

WHAT NOT TO BRING.

  • Don’t bring a gun. We’ll have too many people, and it’s completely unnecessary for this event.
  • Don’t bring power tools. They’re too heavy and bulky anyway.

Camping 101

How to make the most of your camping experience.

  • Moisture is the enemy of comfort. Keep that in mind as you make choices. There are no dryers. What gets wet, stays wet. What is wet is cold and miserable.
  • Sleep naked in your bag, especially if it is super cold. Your sleeping bag will work much better if you don’t sleep clothed. (Seriously, it’s designed to use your body heat to warm the bag.) DISCLAIMER - there’s about as many opinions on this as there are people in this world. Bottom Line: do what works for you. If that means getting into your bag fully clothed, great.
  • Wear good water resistant or waterproof shoes/boots.
  • Have a couple of wet wipes with you at all times or close by. Sometimes nature calls when we least expect it.
  • If it is super cold, a Nalgene bottle filled with hot water (heated by jetboil or a pot on the fire) will make your sleeping bag super comfy. Just heat the water, dump it in the Nalgene (close the lid tightly) and throw that into the foot of your bag when you get in. Don’t do this until you are 100% ready to go to sleep, you want to soak up as much heat as possible. Don’t heat a plastic bottle or a bottle with a plastic closure by the fire. It could easily develop a leak and your bag will be wet and miserable all night.
  • Pro-tip: Throw the clothes you’re going to wear in the morning into the bottom of your bag too (not between you and the Nalgene). They will help keep the heat in the bag and they will be toasty for the morning. Remember, DO NOT WEAR THEM TO SLEEP.
  • If it is going to rain or snow, Cotton is the enemy. Denim is only slightly better. Wear synthetic items if possible.
  • Do not place your tents super close to the fire. Sparks can reach them but heat cannot. Sparks can ruin a tent quickly.
  • Always stake the tent down (even if it isn’t windy).
  • Always put on the rainfly securely (even if it doesn’t look like rain).
  • Always keep the doors zipped shut unless you are actively accessing the tent. You don’t want to sleep with all sorts of critters and bugs.
  • Always place your tent on the most level ground you can find. The ground will not be level so place the “head” of your bedroll at the highest point.
  • Locate your headlamp and have it with you before dark.
  • Make sure that anything you bring (clothes, gear, etc) is as versatile and multi-functional as possible. It is much better to bring 5 things than to bring 25 things.
  • Don’t put food inside your tent unless you want a nighttime visitor with paws. Most tents have a “vestibule” which is a spot covered by the rainfly outside of the sleeping area where you can store items.
  • Put all trash into a trash bag immediately. Things will blow around and get scattered very quickly.
  • If you go to bed first, put in your earplugs. Tents do not block sound. The rest of your group should not be expected to get super quiet since you chose to call it a night.

Cold Weather Camping Tips

You might find a few things repeated in here. That’s how important they are.

Recurring Question: How cold is too cold? While this event is not weather dependent, and we don’t expect it to be below freezing, we don’t want anyone injured. Here comes the science: The American College of Sports Medicine says until we hit -18 degrees (that’s right, negative 18) actual temp, we are good to go! Leave it to OSHA to be totally unhelpful and vague, saying that basically sitting in your house is a risk. You can get Hypothermia or Trench Foot at temps above 60 degrees (what the heck is trench foot?).

The bottom line is, weather in the Midwest is unpredictable and it could be cold. We aren’t going on Shackleton’s expedition; we’re spending a couple days in the woods together.

  • Hydrate ahead of time. It helps you stay warm. Drink a ton of water the week before. Seriously. DO THIS.
  • Wear the right stuff. Layers, layers, layers. No cotton.
  • Protect your feet and hands. Bring your own hand-warmers and feet-warmers if you typically have trouble with that.
  • Dry is more important than warm. And warm is very important.
  • Mylar blankets can be found multiple places (like Amazon) and are great to wrap around the outside of your sleeping bag to make it warmer on the inside of the bag.
  • Wood will be available but it may be damp. We recommend bringing fire starters.
  • High-protein and high-fat foods are recommended. Examples could be hot chocolate with butter or peanut butter as the protein. Fat food creates energy. Energy means heat.
  • Folks with diabetes or on beta blockers are more susceptible to hypothermia. Plan accordingly.
  • This isn’t a kegger or wine party. We will have some pop, beer and wine available. Overindulging isn’t just irresponsible, it’s dangerous. It can increase your risk of hypothermia. Don’t put you, your spouse, or your group in a bad situation.

Some other helpful tips. Note — The writer recommends bundling up inside your sleeping bag. Your call on which advice to follow.