Are you thinking about your first camping trip with children? My husband and I both grew up camping so why we waited until now to take the kids on a camping trip is beyond me. It is probably because we always have so many plans when the kids are out of school or Curtis is off work that camping has been replaced with room service and amusement parks.

We finally decided that the best way to get our kids to appreciate nature was to go on a family camping trip in the wilderness. I knew they would love it but my husband was skeptical. He assumed that since technology is such a big part of our lives and our children’s lives, they would not do well in the outdoors for too long. I am happy to say that as usual, I was right!

Since our first camping trip was such a success, I thought I would put together a list of the things that worked as well as the things that I will do differently next time when it comes to camping with young children.

When preparing for a camping trip, it is important to do some research on the location. We chose a spot that is fairly close to our home just incase it was a total disaster and needed to leave early. We also decided to book a yurt since we would be arriving late and did not want to deal with pitching a tent on the first trip. Now that I know what we are capable of as a family, I am more confident that we can handle other locations.

Yurt at Mt. Madonna

Things to Look Into:

  • Are there showers nearby?
  • How many campsites are in one area?
  • What kind of wildlife is in the area?
  • Is there a body of water nearby?
  • Are there any hiking trails and if so, how challenging are they?
  • Are you tent camping or staying in a yurt or R.V.?

All of these factors determine what you should pack for the trip.

Packing List (Must-Haves)

  • Tent (if tent camping) and air mattress of comfort
  • Towels and extra blankets
  • Food and drink
  • Camp stove and propane
  • Pots and pans
  • Dinnerware, etc
  • Cooler (make sure it fits in the bear box)
  • Trash bags, paper towels, dish soap and sponge
  • Water shoes and bathing suits for river play
  • A few beach towels
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • Clothing – layers
  • Sturdy shoes for hiking
  • Bikes/helmets for all (adults and kids)
  • Bike lock
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Backpack/daypack
  • Camp chairs
  • Flashlights
  • Lantern
  • Books, games, etc 
  • Fishing gear (if you are near water)

Packing List (Luxury Items)

  • Broom
  • Electric kettle
  • Christmas lights
  • Inflatables (for water spots)
  • Small portable cooler
  • Fitted sheets (if staying in a yurt)
  • Binoculars
  • Bug apper
  • Power strip (if there is electricity)

A very important suggestion that I have for anyone camping with children is to bring friends or make friends with fellow campers. This seriously made our trip when we connected with two other families who were camping near us. Not only did it give Kolton and Shayne other children to play with, but Curtis and I were able to hang with like minded parents who also enjoy the outdoors.

We all exchanged information in order to connect for future camping trips. They were also able to give us tips and show us some items that we didn’t think to pack for our next trip. One of the families reached out to invite us to an upcoming trip to Yosemite! They had a friend cancel, so a campsite opened up at a site which has been fully booked for months!

Next stop… Yosemite! I hope you can follow our journey!

Check our our last Yosemite trip :: Yosemite National Park – A Family Camping Trip