Something I did when taking cadets who hadn’t been camping before, was to do hootchie erection around mid-afternoon.
That way, as staff, we knew they had something to sleep under (hootchie), something to sleep on (ground sheet) and something to sleep in (sleeping bag) – all before it got too dark.
To those new to camping, you may find it handy to adopt the same principle. Get into camp before it’s too late, get your stuff squared away and perhaps even start meal prep etc in the light.
It is so tempting to keep driving and putting off the making of camp. Again, if you’re relatively new to camping or you have others with you who may not be as familiar with it as you, time taken to set up camp, explore the area around you, gather the firewood, locate that toilet, find the path to the toilet or even find the water point (be it a creek or tap).
The last thing you want is to ruin a great camping trip by just descending on a campsite in the dark, not knowing where things around you are or finding out that you’ve left something (no matter how important) at home. If you get into camp early enough, there may still be time to get back to a nearby town or service station to buy that all important gas connection you left on the kitchen table at home.
Kids too can get involved in the camp setup chores – rather than worrying about getting them bathed, fed and off to bed. Give them a chance to run around after the days drive, let them find the creek, let them light the fire and let them toast their own Jaffle – all before it gets too dark.
Yes, you may have shorter legs to your trip away. But, sometimes the destination is the main event.
Besides, you’ll have even more time to enjoy happy hour/s and great sunsets.
Keep safe and settle in early.