The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

Many camping enthusiasts have already taken advantage of this summer’s beautiful camping weather, and many more will join them as the warm days and cool evenings kick into full gear. If you’re headed to the campground this weekend or in the upcoming weeks, we’ve prepared the ultimate family camping checklist to keep you safe and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Check Equipment

Before heading to the campground, you should spend time making sure all of your camping equipment is in working order. Check tent for holes, makes sure tent poles are not cracked, the lantern works, and new batteries are packed. It’s better to find problems at home rather than after arriving at the campsite. As you pack, here’s a list of items to make sure you have:

  • A first aid checklist is one of the most important. Be sure to prepare for the unexpected and carry it everywhere you go. It should cover the most common problems: cuts, blisters, burns and scrapes
  • Other supplies to have are: band aids, gauze pads, gauze, tape, scissors, nail clippers, tweezer, aspirin, personal medications, ace bandages, antiseptic ointment, bug spray
  • Does anyone in the group have medical issues? What are they, and what tools and knowledge will you need to deal with them if they occur?
  • How far away is help, and how do we reach it?

As you set out keep in mind:

  • What’s the worst-case weather scenario?
  • What dangers are inherent to the area and any activities you may do?

Campfire Safety

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the great outdoors with a roaring fire, gooey s’mores and a night sky lit up with stars. But how much have you thought about the campfire? It’s a big responsibility. That’s why it’s important to learn safety before, during and after the campfire is put out.

  • Don’t build a campfire if the campground or event rules prohibit them.
  • Don’t build a campfire in hazardous, dry conditions.
  • Find out if the campground has an existing fire ring or fire pit.
  • If there’s isn’t a pit, but pits are allowed, choose a site at least 15 feet from tent walls, shrubs, trees, or other flammable objects. Beware of low-hanging branches.
  • When building your campfire, be sure to have a source of water, a bucket and shovel nearby at all times.
  • Keep your fire to a manageable size.
  • When extinguishing, pour lots of water on the fire. Drown all the embers, not just the red ones. Pour until the hissing sounds stop.
  • Remember: if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Food Safety

Camping is a great way to spend time with family and friends, but as you set up your tent, don’t neglect your food safety routine. Here’s a few tips:

  • Bacteria on raw meat and poultry products can easily spread to other foods by juices dripping from packages, hands, or utensils. When transporting them, double wrap or place packages in plastic bags.
  • To keep foods cold, you’ll need a cold source. A block of ice keeps longer than ice cubes.
  • Cook foods to proper temperatures and chill foods promptly.

Camping Etiquette

Whether you’re going on your first camping trip or your 100th, it’s a good idea to remember to be a polite camper. Knowing proper camping etiquette makes you someone who neighbors are happy with and hopefully lead to a fun experience.

  • Remember to keep your distance. No one likes it when another camper sets up right on top of the campers around you. Try to stay to the middle of your campsite, giving space to those around you. That’s one of the reasons to go camping – to enjoy nature and get away from people.
  • Keep noise to a minimum. Many campsites are already crammed together, so try to keep your noise to a minimum by limiting the loud radios or TVs.
  • Respect and observe quiet hours. Most campgrounds have “quiet hours” from 10 p.m. – 8 a.m. Be sure to respect these hours for those who wish to have some peace and quiet, and undisturbed sleep.
  • Keep pets in line and on a leash. Be sure to pack enough plastic bags to pick up after your pet. Also, keep your dog on a leash and stop excessive or extended barking. Don’t leave a howling dog unattended to bother neighbors.
  • Remember the Golden Rule. If you’re not sure of the proper camping etiquette, think about how you would like to be treated. If you’re concerned that something might bother a fellow camper, your best bet is to just ask them.

A summer family camping trip can be one of the most rewarding experiences this season. To make it memorable, plan ahead and make it fun!

National Geographic
US Forest Service