As long as you have patience and a bottle of wine, you can handle just about anything on your family camping trip. But, you want to do more than just “handle” the camping trip. You want it to be fun for everyone, creating a long-lasting family tradition. Ensure a smooth trip by dividing your family camping checklist into three parts: Preparation, Packing, and At the Campsite. This will make your trip go smoothly so that bottle of wine will be for enjoyment, not stress relief.

Family camping checklist

Talk to your kids about what to expect when you sleep outside in a tent.

Dividing Up the Family Camping Checklist

The essentials for family camping can be broken up into three categories. There is the preparation, the packing, and arriving at the campsite.

Preparation for Family Camping

It is essential that you prepare your kids for an outdoor adventure. Talk about nature and wildlife, what they can expect, and rules they need to follow before you get to the campsite. Be sure to reinforce the outdoor experience. Look at a map of the campground and where you’ll be camping. Talk about safety, both regarding keeping your kids safe, but also protecting the nature and wildlife. Talk about any concerns they may have, like sleeping in a tent, and what happens if they have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Camp Activities

Look to see what activities are available. Involve the kids in planning. Make sure they have a say in their outdoor adventure. Planning activities ahead of time will help get the kids excited about the trip. By involving the kids in the planning, they’ll take ownership of the trip, and it will be much more fun for everyone.

Packing for Family Camping

Family camping

Look at maps of the area where you’ll be camping and talk to your kids about what to expect before you go.

Be sure to find a tent that is big enough for everyone. Or, get a few tents and let the kids have their own space to sleep, hang out, and play. We always recommend getting a tent that can room more people that will be using it. Give yourself some space. A comfortable sleeping area is essential for all camping trips, not just for families. And, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’ll be glad you have enough tent space.

Kids Books and Toys

Of course, you need clothes, food, and sunscreen. But, more importantly, you need to bring your kids’ favorite toys and games. Bring things that are familiar. Don’t worry, they’ll still end up exploring the campsite and playing outdoors. But, you want to have something familiar so that everything isn’t completely new. If there are a Teddy bear and a book they can’t sleep without, bring them. Camping will bring plenty of new experiences, you don’t have to take away old favorites.

At the Campground

Delegate campsite duties. Give your kids something to do, something that is their responsibility at the campsite. But first, let them help – to the best of their ability – with setting up and breaking down the tent. Even a young child can help in some capacity. Involve your kids every step of the way. If they’re just sitting around watching you do everything, they’ll quickly get bored with camping.

Familiarize Yourself with the Campsite

Camping checklist

Don’t forget the s’mores!

After you’ve pitched your tent, take a family walk around the campsite. Make sure you all know the boundaries, where the toilets are, where the water is, and how far the kids are allowed to go by themselves. Point out things around your campsite that is easy to recognize, in case they get turned around and lost at camp.

Once your camp is set up and everyone is comfortable, settle in, build a fire and break out that bottle of wine for the adults and the s’mores for everyone. You did remember to pack s’mores, right? RIGHT?!

Outdoors Geek is an outdoor retail shop located in Denver, Colorado. You can rent, try, or buy high-quality family camping gear essentials. We ship anywhere in the United States.