Checklist for Camping with Your Kids
It seems like on every camping adventure, even those where I did not bring my children, I would forget something. This is easy to do and will likely continue to happen unless I get myself organized. In fact, on a recent camping trip my husband and I realized that we had forgotten a lighter or matches, which meant we had to drive outside of the National Park to purchase one of these tools. Thinking about how to organize ourselves for our adventures has led to my developing this checklist for camping. This list includes the items you would bring when camping without children, as well as those items that make camping with your children a much better experience.
Sleeping Quarters and Campsite
A good night’s sleep is important, whether at home or when you are camping. In fact, it is hard to enjoy your time outdoors when you are struggling with fatigue. Also, when you don’t have everything you need when you are camping, it makes everything much harder. Should you not have extra tent stakes, you will have to go searching for something at the campsite that will meet the same need.
Use this checklist to ensure you have everything you need for spending a few nights outdoors and sleeping comfortably. It is important to remember that not all of these items are imperative. Some could be useful for you and your family depending on your preferences.
Tent or Tents
Shelter for shade or rain
Tarp or footprint (underneath tent)
Toilet paper (even if you are camping where there are bathrooms)
Tarp or rainfly above tent
Fire starting material
Sleeping pads or air mattress
Battery operated or electric air pump (should you be using an air mattress)
Extra tent stakes
Repair kit for air mattress or sleeping pad
Flashlights, lantern, head lamp
First Aid Kit (with tweezers)
Deck of playing cards
**the hammock is not imperative though it makes a great activity to keep kids happy. Both my daughter and my son can spend hours in the hammock. And I love that because I know right where they are.
Whether you are a gourmet camp cook or you reheat canned food, there are certain items that are important to have with you to prepare and serve meals. It is important to consider that everyone’s cooking needs are different; for some, a simple backpacking stove is all that is necessary to cook meals. My kids and I did just fine with my backpacking stove for quite some time before we invested in a two burner camping stove. Other households prefer having a two burner stove and a backpacking stove to cook multiple things at the same time. For campers that reheat, there may not be any need to take along spices. The large water jug is particularly helpful when camping where there is no sink. The jug can be used as a sink of sorts to fill up water bottles, wash hands and clean dishes. For some, a folding table is important for food preparation, though for others the table may take up too much space in the car to be worth the trouble. Take a look at this list and choose to pack those items that are important for you and your family.
Propane for camping stove
Large water jug
Pocket Rocket backpacking stove
Small propane canister
Matches or lighter
Water bottles to fill for hikes
Plastic bags or plastic containers to pack sandwiches and snacks for hiking or other adventures (or to pack leftovers)
Coals (for cooking with Dutch oven)
Portable sink or bin to use as a place to wash dishes
Clothing to Pack
While you want to have all that you need to set up camp, it is key that you have the items necessary to keep warm and dry, as well as take advantage of all of the adventure available. This list may vary from trip to trip, though I recommend always bringing your rain gear. Getting wet, and consequently cold, will often lead to feeling uncomfortable.
Good shoes for walking
Comfortable shoes for hanging around the campsite
Depending on weather, possible warm coat
Water shoes if camping near lakes, creeks or rivers
Jeans or other warm pants
Bathing suit if swimming is a possibility
Underwear/long underwear if cold weather
T-shirt, long-sleeve shirt
Bag for dirty clothes
This list includes the items that would be key in most travel situations. While they seem so basic that there is no need to add them to a list, in my experience, sometimes it is the most basic things that we forget.
Shower shoes/flip flops
Items Specifically for Camping with Kids
These items are particularly helpful for keeping kids clean and engaged. Between all that the outdoors has to offer and these additional fun items from home, children will have plenty to keep them occupied.
Diapers (if necessary)
Favorite stuffed toy
Extra clothing, underwear, shoes and socks
Pack and play
Child carrier backpack
A few favorite toys
Child size camping chair
Headlight or flashlight for each child
Coloring book and crayons
I hope this checklist will help you as you prepare for your upcoming adventures. Remember that this list is a starting point. You can add any items you would like, and remove those that are not necessary for your family. The important thing is to make the list work for you.
Please share what items you feel are imperative when camping with your family. How do you best keep your children engaged?