How to Break Camp

Campsite Breakdown

You would think a checklist for breaking camp is nothing more than doing things in reverse order when setting up your camp. It’s close, but it’s not quite as easy as that.
For us, my wife takes care of the inside and I take care of the outside. The kids help both of us, depending on what needs to be done and whether the older of the two teen boys has returned from his 45-minute shower/bathroom trip.

Depending on your RV, your checklist will vary slightly.

  1. A sink full of dirty dishesWe start by washing and drying any remaining dirty dishes, including what was used for breakfast that morning and the marshmallow forks and pie irons. I’ll take our campfire grill to the campground’s sink designated for cleaning such nasty items.
  2. Once my wife is done with dishes I’ll turn off the water heater and close the propane tanks, in that order.
  3. After my wife has taken down the beds (sleeping bags rolled up, sheets removed and stuffed into the dirty clothes hamper, and foam mattress toppers removed , folded and stored away), I take down the bed ends of our expandable camper. All this entails is sweeping off debris, then unsnapping the canvas and unhooking the bungee cords pulling the bottom edges tight, and then folding the canvas like an envelope into itself. Once the canvas is tucked inside the camper, we lift the bed ends off their support poles and push it in place on our camper, taking care that nothing is interfering with the seal between the bed ends and the camper. Rotating the clamps into place secures the door, and a final inspection ensures the seal is secure as well.
  4. While I continue to take care of the outside, my wife is inside putting things away and cleaning as she goes. Obviously it’s important that everything is secure for the trip back home.
  5. An RV AwningOn the outside, usually our next step is the awning. First we lower it so we can reach to remove the lights. Next is rolling it back into place, sweeping off debris beforehand.
  6. Following the awning is the patio mat. We sweep it first and then fold it accordion-style so it fits into our pass-through storage at the front of the camper. If it has been a rainy trip and the mat is muddy, we’ll put it in a large trash bag and hose it off back home.
  7. The next step is hitching the camper to our tow vehicle. First, we raise the stabilizer jacks. Second, we raise the tongue jack high enough to clear the hitch ball. Third, I hitch up. If a kid is available, I’ll have him or her help back me into place. If not, I have a system: fold down all the seats in our Trailblazer, open the hatch and set the mallet on the hitch. Line the handle of the hitch with the tongue jack and when the handle is raised I know the ball is where it needs to be. IMPORTANT: Make sure the wheel chocks are still securing the tires when hitching to your tow vehicle; remove and store them after you’re done.
  8. By this time my wife is usually done with the inside, so the kids start handing her the outside items that are stored on the inside for transport, such as the cornhole game and the camp chairs.
  9. Next is disconnecting power (and water and sewer, if applicable).
  10. Close and lock all doors.
  11. Dump station signFinally, do a walk around to make sure everything is good to go. Did you lower the vent covers? Did you lower the TV antenna? Is the refrigerator turned off? Is the water pump turned off? Are all the outside storage covers closed and secured? You’ll undoubtedly add more questions to your checklist as you go along.
  12. Once you’re convinced everything is ready to go, then it’s time to leave. Of course, before you can get on your way you have to visit the campground’s dump station first. Once it’s your turn, pull up so your dump valves are next to the receptacle. Then it’s time to connect the sewer hose from your camper to the dump station receptacle. This is always my jump, no matter how many times I offer to let someone else enjoy the fun. I wear rubber gloves and wash with alcohol-based towelettes for this, and I’m always amazed at the people who use no protection.
  13. That’s it! Time to head for home!

See you next week!
Rick Kessler
Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Great Lakes region. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Gr8LakesCamper blog.




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