Tent Camping Tips for the Family

I have personally been a tent camper for as far back as I remember. I believe I was around 4 years old on the first camping trip that I actually remember, but my mom has told me stories of camping trips when I was six months old. Now that I am older I want to share the experience with my son, nieces and nephew. I have camped with all of the kids and there are things I have learned for families that enjoy tent camping.

Housing (Tent, Sleeping Bags, Etc.):

Make sure that you have a tent that will allow everyone to fit comfortably. If your tent is not quite big enough, consider getting a second tent. If you and your family will be tent camping for more than a day or two, you want to have plenty of room for each person.

Have two tarps for each of your tents. I have learned from personal experience that this is a necessity. One tarp if to put under the tent and the other is to cover the tents when it rains. Even though most tents are waterproof, things happen to allow leaks. The tarp will just give you an extra barrier.

Have one sleeping bag for each person, but make sure to have a couple extra as well. There are times when you may need extra sleeping bags when tent camping. Children do have accidents, spills, and more, so always be prepared.

Purchase strong tent stakes so that the tents can hold up in the wind. Most of the stakes that come with tents now are cheap, and will not hold up well.

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Cooking and Food Storage:

You will first need three coolers for tent camping; one for drinks, one for food items that do not need to be frozen, and one for frozen foods. The best way to store meets is to freeze them at home, store them in a cooler that has extra insulation, and then add dry ice. When you are using all of these the frozen items can stay frozen for up to a week. Be sure to store all of the coolers in the shade, the sun can melt everything pretty quickly.

Always be prepared in case camp sites have burn bans. I have learned while tent camping for two weeks this summer that you need a small cooker of some kind. You do not want to spend money purchasing food if you do not have to.

Items you will need for cooking and food storage:

  • Large plastic container to store all food in, this will help prevent animals from coming into your area.
  • Silverware or plastic ware for eating
  • Cooking utensils; knives, large spoons, large forks, spatula, etc.
  • Pots and pans. At least one of each
  • Plastic tubs or metal pans to wash and rinse dishes in
  • Ziploc bags to keep things dry. I like storing butter and cheese in these bags so that they do not get water logged in the cooler
  • Pot holders
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Foil
  • Plates
  • Can opener
  • Kabob sticks for kabobs or roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.

This is really just a basic list for family tent campers; some items will be different depending on your families needs.

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First Aid:

Try to be prepared for everything when you are tent camping with the family. I have learned that kids can get into everything, especially when you are camping with younger kids.

First Aid Items:

  • Band-Aids of all sizes
  • Anti Itch cream
  • Gauze and tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Allergy medicine
  • Alcohol
  • Peroxide
  • Splints
  • Sun Screen
  • All prescription medicine
  • Aspirin
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Cold Pack
  • Ace Bandage

Picking a Campsite:

Camping with a family can make it a little more difficult to find a campsite. I like finding a campsite that has a bathroom, and hopefully a shower. I have learned that every national park that I have went to does not have showers. You will have to do a little research, but there are usually privately owned campsites that have showers. I found one in South Dakota, Fort WeLikIt, which had great showers and even provided electricity if you paid a little more each day.

If you get to pick your own campsite you should be sure to find one that has a nice flat area, or a grass covered area. There is nothing worse than to find a rock under the tent when you are trying to sleep.

Other Family Camping Tips That Are Helpful:

  • Have plenty of bug spray
  • Pack for all weather, it changes in an instant in most areas
  • Have slip on sandals for everyone at the tent. This will make it easier to take shoes off each time you enter the tent
  • Pack a plastic tablecloth for picnic tables
  • Buy plenty of flashlights. Kids like to have one for themselves, and you will want to have one in all convenient areas for late night walks to the restroom
  • Bring extra matches and lighters for cooking.
  • Put trash and food up to prevent animals from coming to your camp, especially in bear areas
  • Look for campsites ahead of time, there are quite a few that require a reservation
  • If you leave the campsite be sure to bring food, drinks, and a coat for each person in case of an emergency
  • Always keep a water bucket close to fires