Camping has long been a favourite family outing across the country, and it’s never too late or too early to start planning your next outing.
For those of you who are tentatively planning your first family camping trip, however, the prospect may be a little daunting. Camping is the sort of activity that requires a fair amount of planning, supplies and equipment, especially if you’re bringing family members who may be more inclined toward their creature comforts.
To help out new campers, we’ve prepared a short yet hopefully helpful camping supplies checklist to help you prepare for when you next take the household out to reconnect with nature.
Some campers don’t look for much in a tent. As long as it keeps the wind and the rain out, they may be quite happy to settle for a lot less than other folks. Of course, such campers tend not to bring their wife and kids with them.
In your case, being picky may, in fact, be necessary if you want everyone to enjoy their trip.
Make sure that there are enough tents for everyone. In a pinch, you can often have one tent per two people, or maybe even three people if the tents in question are large enough.
Try to make sure that there’s enough room in the tents for luggage and equipment as well as sleepers, with enough room left over to be comfortable.
Young children (say five and below) may be able to sleep with you and your partner in your tent – sleeping on their own in a tent may be too daunting at that age.
Some also buy a small cheap tent to store equipment that must be protected from the elements.
Some families, meanwhile, find it more economical and convenient to simply buy a large family sized tent that has two separate rooms and a covered “porch”.
It is possible to buy tents with as many as four or six individual rooms. These camping monstrosities are essentially canvas houses, and can accommodate an entire family and their things with ease.
Ultimately, it depends on how much room you have in your vehicle, and how much setup you think you can put up with, however, the extra space under one “roof” and being able to keep everyone together can certainly be worth the investment.
Kids’ personal items.
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little of home with you for the children’s sake. This should include various items such as:
- Kids’ blankets and pillows.
- Toys and games (for when they’re bored).
- Stuffed animals.
- Easy to set up decorations from their rooms.
Sleeping away from home can often be a challenge for most kids even in fairly comfortable locations, so given the added oddities and anxieties of sleeping in a tent outside, bedtime can be tricky.
Getting your kids tired beforehand through physical activity is one way to get kids ready for bed, but an easier way is to make the family camping trip a little easier on them by putting things they find familiar in their tent.
Putting their favourite blanket over their sleeping bag or hanging a familiar decoration from the top of their tent can quickly put them at ease, allowing a good sleep.
Health and safety supplies.
A first aid kit is essential with young kids. Camping often involves running around in a fairly natural environment, and more often than not, this will involve the odd fall and knee scrape.
A small box containing antiseptic spray, bandages, tweezers for splinters and stings, and any personal medication is the most important thing to bring with you.
Preventive supplies are also essential to keep on hand. This will primarily include sunblock and insect spray and will prevent any potential irritation to the skin while your kids (and you) are out and about. If you neglect to pack it, you will feel it at the end of the camping trip.
An easy thing to forget about as well is toilet paper and moist towelettes. Not every camping site will have its own bathroom facilities, and even if they do you can’t rely on them to be functioning all the time. If your family is forced to do their business behind a bush, some toilet paper is a godsend.
Likewise, if there are no available showers or a handy creek, then moist towelettes can, at least, get the worst of the grime away until you return home.
You can store all of these items in a waterproof bag, such as the ones that Adventure Lion sells.
Large items should include a camping stove, a cooler for food, and camping furniture to sit and eat on. Folding chairs and tables can easily be found in most department stores for reasonable prices.
If you have space, feel free to bring a BBQ. Before starting any fires, though, make sure you understand any policies regarding cooking and campfires held by the campsite you’re using. Also, make sure you bring an extra canister of propane with you for the stove as well, just in case.
Because eating around a campsite can be a little more awkward than eating at a dining table, you should avoid bringing good plates and cutlery. Plastic camping tableware is a lot more sensible, and can be easily washed with some warm soapy water.
Naturally, you’ll also want to bring a good stock of food, as you can’t guarantee access to a convenience store if you forget to pack enough.
Take the opportunity to try out some fun, traditional camping food, such as sloppy joes or s’mores – and don’t forget the roasted hotdogs and marshmallows over the bonfire.
Christian Mills, a family man and freelance writer enjoys sharing with his readers his insights into family quality time.