Family Camping Guide and Checklist

We know it seems impossible to go camping with kids and somehow keep the entertained, but we are here to make camping easier and enjoyable for the whole family.

It dose not matter if you’ve never been camping before – or at least not with kids – just the thought of getting ready for the experience can be a little daunting. Which items are essential and what can you do without? Is there any way to help reign in the costs? The beginning family camping checklist below is a great start. But before you take a peek at the list, we have some tips to help determine your family’s camping needs.

Do you have time for a “trial run” at camping in the backyard?
Backyard camping can help you test out your gear to see what might be missing. Plus, it’s a great way for kids to get a sense of what “real” camping will be like. If you can, make time for it before the ‘real’ thing.

Can you borrow supplies from friends or family?
Before we purchased our tent, we borrowed two different ones from friends to find out which would be best for our family. It’s also how I learned that unless I wanted to wake up with severe back pain, I’d need to purchase an air mattress.

What is your camping style?
Do you prefer car camping, RV’ing or backpacking? Do you intend to camp during warm weather, cold or both? The answers to these questions will impact what supplies you will bring along.

Can you recycle any of your pre-kid camping gear?
If you’ve camped before, you might be able to put your former gear to use (think: sleeping bags, sleeping pads and camp kitchen equipment). Re-using a couple more items here and there makes it less expensive than buying all new.

Beginning Family Camping Checklist

This is a fairly basic family camping checklist. Pick and choose from (and add to) the list to meet your family’s specific needs, check off supplies to make sure you have everything you need.

The Basics
These items are your “must-have’s” – and usually your big ticket items as well. Borrow or invest as needed.

  • Tent
  • Ground cover/tarp
  • Sleeping bags (or sheets & blankets)
  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses
  • Portable crib for younger kids
  • Pillows & kids’ favourite items for sleep time

Clothing & Helpful Equipment

This list will obviously differ depending on when you camp, the resources available on-site (bathrooms, water, etc.) and how long you go.

  • Clothing (plus plenty of extras for the kids!)
  • Pyjamas
  • Jackets, hats & gloves (it gets cold at night)
  • Diapers/nappies (if applicable)
  • Camp chairs
  • Beach blanket
  • Baby wipes (they’re good for just about everything)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Toiletries (for each member of the family)
  • Toilet paper
  • Camp towels (one per person)
  • Flashlights/headlamps (one per person) Fire starting tinder, kindling & firewood for the fire pit
  • Matches or lighter
  • Insect repellent

We prefer to keep camp meals simple, so our camp kitchen is pretty minimal. You can add on as needed.

  • Camp stove & propane/butane
  • Plates, cups & utensils (plastic utensils help to keep it simple)
  • Cooking utensils, pots & pans
  • Esky with ice
  • Reusable water bottles for everyone
  • Portable high chair or booster seat for younger kids
  • Food items for meals, plus plenty of snacks
  • Marshmallows & chocolate
  • Water & other drinks of choice
  • Formula or baby food for infants as needed
  • Paper towel
  • Rubbish bags

Fun & Games

Most kids don’t need much in the way of entertainment. Being active and outdoors is usually plenty enough excitement but these items may come in handy:

  • Bubbles
  • Glow sticks
  • Scavenger hunt list or camping bingo
  • Play tent
  • Favourite games, colouring books & crayons
  • Deck of cards
  • Field journal and writing/drawing implements
  • Books for bed time
  • Camera
  • Binoculars (for stargazing & wildlife spotting)
  • Fishing gear/license and bait

Share your camping tip with kids below

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