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What Do I Need to Go Camping With Kids


tent camping with kids and bears

Camping with kids is…
…more work, and more fun.

The first time you take kids camping, the question; “What else do I need to take to go camping with kids?” is more important than you think. Especially if the kids are toddlers or very young ones. They need a lot more thought and planning than a typical adult camping trip where you just toss the gear in the car and go.

Hopefully these camping tips, guides, and resources will help make a camping trip with kids the fun adventure you want it to be – for everyone!


Top tips and guides for camping with kids:

#1 Be prepared to keep them busy and active:

  • Kids aren’t going to be quietly stoic when things don’t go as expected, or they don’t have something they want or need. And they certainly aren’t going to want to just sit around and enjoy nature – kids want to be active. A bored kid is an unhappy kid. Planned camping activities for kids is a must for both in-camp time, and while out and about enjoying the nature you came for. Be sure to also plan hiking and camping activities that are age-appropriate; ie. no rock climbing for toddlers, and no leaf rubbings for pre-teens.

#2 Camping meals, food, and snacks:

  • Most kids have “favorite” foods and snacks at home. And some kids are just picky eaters. So it is important to consider their likes, dislikes, and needs when planning their meals.

    Of course your camping menu can include new stuff for them to try, like; campfire or Dutch oven recipes, or even some of those famous 1-pot cast iron skillet meals – just make sure you plan some easy camp food and meals that you know they like, and maybe even some camp foods that can even help make.

#3. Camping security and safety:



  • Scrapes, scratches, and cuts are normal when camping with kids. Make sure you have the right First Aid stuff for kids in your kit.
     
  • Every kid, from 2-year old toddlers, up to 8 or 9-years old, should have a Safety Whistle, and their own Camping Flashlight.

    For their safety and your peace of mind.

Specifically addressing the things you need to do or take will depend on the age of the kids, but here are some of the basics.

Personal Camping gear:

  • Sleeping bag – appropriate for seasonal temperatures
    • Tip: For warm weather camping also pack a bed sheet or light cover in case the kids get too warm in the sleeping bag. With a sheet they can sleep on top of the bag
       
  • Sleeping pad – very important. It will act as both a cushion and an insulator.
  • Pillow – A small camping pillow will work for older kids, but a familiar pillow from home is a better choice for younger kids.
  • Backpack – typically a small day-pack, (school backpack/book-bag).
  • Personal flashlight – every kid should have their own flashlight. Even toddlers
  • Hat – for boys and girls – all seasons
  • Sunglasses- not just for summer
  • Favorite security item – blankie, binky, doll, etc.
  • Favorite toy or game – Non-electronic outside toy or activity game

*Optional – age-dependant

  • Water bottle
  • Personal Mess kit – plate/fork/spoon/cup
  • Tent nightlight

Kid-specific:

  • Potty seat – if still potty training
  • Personal medications
  • Special dietary/health supplements

Here is a Personal Camping Checklist just for kids, that they can do themselves – it has both pictures and words.


Clothing:
Simple – take twice as much as you think you will need. Not only will kids go through twice as many clothing changes as adults – they are more affected by temperature changes than adults. They get both hotter and colder than adults – and faster too.

Also plan on dressing your kids in thin layers, rather than bulky items. It makes it easier to add more clothes – or shed some, depending on the weather.

  • Pack for at least two complete clothing changes per day. More if you are around water or anticipate rainy weather.
    • Tip:
      Pack complete clothing changes (tops, bottoms, underwear, socks) in individual plastic grocery bags. Then when you need a change of clothes you can just grab a bag – instead of rooting through all the packed clothes to find what you need
       
  • Footwear – At least two pairs of shoes – other than sandals (which should not be worn in-camp)
  • Hats – yes they have been mentioned, but it’s important – don’t take kids to a camping environment without a hat
  • Gloves (seasonal) – at least two pairs, one of which is water proof
  • Coats (seasonal) one heavy and one medium or light. *Even in cold weather you will find times when a light or medium-weight coat or jacket will be needed.
  • Rain gear – Can you be positive it won’t rain?
    • Tip:Those inexpensive ($1-$2) emergency camping ponchos work great for kids. They take up about the same packing space as a deck of cards, kids love the novelty, and for a buck or so, you can just toss them if you don’t want to repack them
       

Other Stuff:

  • Toiletries – tooth brush and toothpaste – plus any kid-specific toiletry items they use at home
    • Tip:
      Make sure your toiletry kit includes; tweezers, nail clippers, and some safety pins – at least one large one for splinter removal
       
  • Sunscreen – age-appropriate SPF protection
  • Insect repellant – age-appropriate *Note: Deet-based bug sprays ARE safe for kids over 3 months old, and they have been proven to work best

camping with toddlersTip:
See more information specifically for camping with infants, babies, and toddlers here and be sure to check out our complete Camping with Kids section for more kid’s tent camping tips, guides, and camping checklists.
 


Important Tip: Use a camping checklist! You might be able to “muddle through” if you forget something you need, but kids will be miserable, and possibly inconsolable if you forget something they need! Give yourself some piece-of-mind insurance – check out these free printable camping checklists.

Safety Tip: Give each kid a whistle on a lanyard to hang around their neck. They can use it to let you know they need help! And if it is a really young kid that you want to know where they are all the time, – attach a small “jingle-bell” to the lanyard also. See Camping Safety Whistles


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Bad Weather Survival Ideas for Camping with Kids:
Bad Weather? Kids confined to the tent? Save your sanity – be prepared with these games and activities to keep them occupied.

The links are for individual products, or the all-in-one bad weather kit. (as pictured)

CampingwithGus.com Rainy Day Camping with kids games and activities
    

Available as an all-in-one kit Just click the image on the right to see a complete all-in-one Camping activities for Kids and camp games for kids Bad Weather Survival kit” – All you have to do is select the item quantities to match your number of kids!


Notes and discussions:
Camping with kids requires some camping gear and accommodations that you might not normally consider if just camping with adults.

Here are a few items and resources that may prove helpful:

Of all the camping books available to tell you how to do this or that, none have been around as long, as tested, updated, and revised to reflect new knowledge as the official Boy Scout Handbook.

Consider how ideal it is for camping with kids:

  • It is devoted to outdoor activities for and about kids!
  • It is extensive in its coverages, and is written to be understood by kids and adults alike.
  • Its camping first aid section is more appropriate, and situation-specific than any other book on the market. (an opinion of course)

It is handy and helpful for experienced outdoor campers, and is especially useful to new campers. A Boy Scout handbook contains easy to understand answers and how-to’s for almost any camping question. Plus, it contains plant and foliage identifications, campsite activity suggestions, survival tips, and detailed primary first aid instructions.
Boy Scout Handbook


If you are camping with young kids, and there are no on-site bathrooms, (or they are a mile away), a camp potty is almost a necessity. First because when a little kids has to go, – they have to go now! Also treks outside the “safety zone” of a lighted camp site after dark is not something most young kids want to do. This camping toilet is one of the more easy-to-use, and stable ones I have seen.

Portable Camp Toilet

 

Check out these great examples of camping gear items you can find on Amazon. You will wonder how you ever did without them. Especially when you see how inexpensive they are when you buy them online at Amazon.

Related Resources:


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