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Camping with Kids Checklist

Experience the Outdoors and Make Summer Camping Memories

Summertime family camping can be one of the best experiences for both parents and kids!

We love to be out in nature, exploring different hikes and trails, bike riding, playing, swimming, and making memories! The evenings are perfect for playing guitar, singing songs and making s’mores by the campfire each night.

One of the things that can make it less than enjoyable, however, is not having everything that you need. As we are avid campers, I am happy to share with you this HANDY checklist to make sure you bring everything that you need for your tent camping trip! Hiking through the mountains, sitting around the campfire telling stories, or wading in a clear chilly stream, you may notice your family has a greater sense of calm or increased focus. This isn’t a coincidence. Studies have shown that time spent in nature has a number of mental and physical benefits. According to a 2016 study from Plymouth University in the UK, parents of kids who camp in nature at least once a year say their kids perform better in school and are healthier and happier. All of that just from spending time in nature as a family!

Tent Camping Checklist

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An easy and simple list to help you pack for tent camping with kids

Camping Tent

First and foremost, you need somewhere to sleep! Depending on the size of your family or group that you are camping with, you might need a bigger option, but for a family of four-five people, this 6 person tent is a great economical option.

Portable Shelter for Inclement Weather

If it rains, you do not want to be stuck sitting in your tent, so bring a pop-up shelter to hang out and play cards or board games. This is also VERY useful in the summertime as it ensures that there is always a shaded spot for kids and toddlers to play.

Speaking of potential rain, it is a longtime tested and used camping hack to put a tarp under your tent – this helps to prevent water (rain or groundwater) from seeping up into the tent space. There are many economical tarp options you can order right from Amazon.

Air Mattress

A good quality air mattress is especially important while sleeping in a tent. You will need a good night sleep to wake up refreshed and ready to create those summer family camping memories.

Air Pump

Sometimes air mattresses come with an electric one built in. However, do not rely on having electricity. ALWAYS bring a manual air pump to ensure that you are sleeping up and off of the ground.

Sleeping Bags

A sleeping bag is probably one of the most important items for camping. There are so many different brands and weights on the market. See what works best for your family, and the climate that you will be camping in. I do like this set of two sleeping bags for kids that can be ordered from Amazon.

Towels, Blankets and Pillows

Bring extra! Blankets especially will come in handy for sleeping, and also for cuddling up by the fire.


It will be important to have a light to turn on insight the tent. Have one lantern for each tent that you will be setting up.


When you are camping in a tent, and you do not have electricity or buildings around you, you will need to light your way to the restroom (wilderness?) after it is dark out. Flashlights are a must.

Camp Stove

Fire cooking is a wonderful experience, but it is best to bring a camping stove as well. If it is pouring rain, you still want to be able to cook, as well as some things that we like to eat (mac n cheese anyone??) simply cannot be cooked over the fire easily. Do not forget to bring a pot and utensils for cooking.

Camping chairs

You need somewhere to sit! Not only around the fire, but just hanging out in the day after a bike ride or hike. Some of the best memories while camping as a family happen while gathered at the campsite. Bring along some easily foldable and portable camping chairs. These range from basic, like this Coleman chair for around $25.00:

To superior levels of comfort, like this padded chair from Arrowhead, for around $75.00:


Ensure that you plan your meals in advance and do not forget snacks and treats! S’more making supplies are an absolute essential for any camping trip. We love this handy S’more kit that includes everything you need.

Dishes and Utensils

We love to use paper plates so that they can be added to the campfire after eating. Compostable, wooden single use utensils are a great thing to bring tent camping as well. They can either be discarded in a compost bin with food scraps or added to the campfire as kindling. You can certainly bring reusable dishes, just be sure to pack some dish soap for washing!

One of the best moments while camping is waking up with the sun and having a hot cup of coffee. Invest in a Coffee Pot suitable for a camp stove or your fire and it makes for a beautiful morning routine in the fresh air.

You will want to pack your food items in a Storage Tote. Especially if there are animals nearby (particularly in mountains), food should all be packed away at night and stored in your vehicle.


Bring a LOT of water for your trip. Some campsites have potable (drinkable) water, but there is no guarantee that all of them will.

Like any trip, you’ll want to ensure that you bring clothing, shoes, sweaters, jackets, shower supplies (soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste). Camping out in the wilderness, or even at a campsite often means using an outhouse so do not forget the toilet paper!

Firewood, matches, and axe

Many campsites will have firewood for purchase, but it is always a good idea to bring a bit just in case they do not have any, or if you are camping in the wilderness.

Tent Camping with Kids Checklist: Get a PRINTABLE copy of this easy and simple list to help you pack for tent camping with kids

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