Essential Summer Camp Packing Listby Denis M. Sweeney, camper, blogger, and Artist who now calls California his home.
My parents were teachers when I was growing up so we had summers off. At a minimum we would go camping locally, but many years we would go on long, out of state trips with nightly camping, for weeks at a time. I should also mention that I have 4 siblings, so, for you math-challenged individuals (you know who you are) that is seven people, or 2 adults and 5 kids, in one car. Now the kicker... wait for it... the car we drove in was a VW Beetle for this trip. Other trips were taken in different VWs; the squareback and the van. Several times we drove across the United States to southern California to visit an uncle, and then headed north to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then drove back across Canada, back to Pennsylvania. Before we get too far along, let me explain the Beetle-trip car setup, and also confess that I am old, so there weren't seat belt laws. So the car had the driver and the co-pilot adults in the front, the youngest kid, on a pillow sitting on the emergency brake, three kids in the back, and one lucky kid in the (dreaded) well, behind the second row of seats, and exposed to the glaring sun from the rear window.
But with all these kids filling the passenger compartment of the car, it made it a challenge to fit camping gear, clothes and food for seven in there too. The rest of the car was packed like this: in the trunk of the car (front in a Beetle) was the food and kitchen. On the roof was the tent, clothes, blankets, towels, and pillows. I doubt that Yakuma even existed back then; we used a tapestry and bungee cords to wrap up the pack on the roof.
My parents created a list, and constantly re-evaluated and refined the list of what to bring camping. This Camping List is not an extravagant list... you may wish to add to it, but a finer starter list, you will not find.
I have a memory of a common occurrence on our trip: another car begins to pass us, they slow down, and we can see them mentally counting us up; eyebrow raise; and 2 thumbs up, and then they zoom off past us.
Below is an actual photo from one of our trips (taken by amazing photographer Carl Shurer)
Without further adieu, may I present: THE LIST
Camp Packing List__ Backpack, daypack, and/or fanny pack
__ Bags - Tent bag, grocery bags, etc.
__ Cardboard boxes if needed
__ Ice chest with ice
Lighting - Check batteries!__ Flashlight
__ Spare batteries and bulbs
__ Lantern (gas or electric)
__ Spare lantern fuel and mantles
__ Matches (preferably water proof)
__ Tent rain tarp
__ Extra tent stakes
__ Dining fly
__ Plastic ground cloth for under the tent
__ Sleeping bag
__ Mattress or pad - Inflator for air mattress
__ Space blanket
__ Insect repellent
__ Poison ivy block
__ Poison ivy remedies
__ Allergy medicines
__ Pain relief pills like aspirin
__ Tummy medicines (for diarrhea etc.)
__ Tweezers for splinters
__ Band-Aids and bandages
__ Itch cream for bug bites
__ Mole skin (to prevent blisters if you hike a lot)
__ First Aid Kit (may include all the above items)
__ Prescription medicines (if prescribed by your doctor)
__ Extra pair of prescription glasses
Cleaning & Personal Items__ Bar soap (biodegradable)
__ Shampoo (biodegradable)
__ Toothpaste (biodegradable)
__ Comb or hair brush
__ Razor (shaving cream)
__ Toilet paper
__ Case or bag to carry the above items to the shower house
__ Bath towel
Equipment__ Ax (do not cut any living or standing trees)
__ Bow saw
__ Extension cord (if at campsite with electric hookup)
__ Duct tape and/or electrical tape
__ Hammer for pounding in tent pegs
__ Clothes pins
__ Whiskbroom to clean table and tent site
Miscellaneous__ Pocket knife
__ Compass and area map
__ Fishing pole and gear (+ license & bait!)
__ Beach chairs
__ Camping chairs
__ Safety pins
__ Cellular phone w/extra battery and car adapter
__Solar charger. these are great in a pinch!
__ Power strip so you can share the love of often-limited outlets
__ Camera w/good battery and extra film
__ Camcorder w/good battery and extra storage
__ Money, credit card, ID
__ Books, radio, cards, games, toys, etc.
__ Sports equipment
__ Citronella candles
__ Field guides/phone apps for identifying wildlife
__ Park mini-map (get one when you arrive)
ClothingDress for the season
Bring warm clothes in case the weather turns cold (layers!)
Don't forget these special items
__ Wide-brimmed hat to block the sun
__ Jacket - As weather dictates; Eskimo style, mackintosh, windbreaker, etc.
__ Rain gear
__ Poncho - Doubles as emergency tent/lean-to
__ Shower shoes
__ Hiking boots
__ Work gloves
__ Swim suit
Repair Kit__ Hammer
__ Duct tape
__ Screwdriver set
__Length of rope. useful for hanging food out of animals' reach, clothesline, etc.
__C-clamps or A-clamps. A quick-clamp with a tarp can make quick/easy shelter.
Cooking__ Stove with fuel & lighter or charcoal and lighter fluid & grill for BBQ
__ Newspapers for lighting a campfire
__ Frying pan with lid
__ Cooking skewers (for hot dogs, marshmallows, etc.)
__ Pot or sauce pan with lid
__ Can opener/ bottle opener/ corkscrew
__ Coffee maker & filters
__ Pot lifter and/or pot holders
Dishes__ Plates - Partition tray/plate is nice
__ Knifes, forks, spoons
__ Kitchen knife
__ Mixing bowl
__ Scrub pad
__ Dish pan for washing dishes
__ Container for water
__Water purification kit
Consumables__ Paper towels & napkins
__ Trash bags
__ Plastic Bags
__ Aluminum Foil
__ Dish soap (biodegradable)
__ Water bottle, to carry while hiking
__ Water jug to fetch water from the pump or faucet
__Camelback-type water carrier
Food & DrinkBring whatever food you wish, but remember that you will have limited space for food that needs to be refrigerated. Make sure that you have adequate cooking dishes and utensils to prepare what food you bring. Outdoor appetites are usually large so be prepared!
Be sure to store food in a safe location to keep animals from your food. Keep food in a car trunk or in the interior under a blanket, or hang your food between two trees.
Fresh fruit and vegetables do not need refrigeration and need minimum preparation
Kids will want to cook over the campfire so bring hotdogs and marshmallows (and graham crackers and chocolate for s-mores)
Don't forget condiments;
Salt, pepper, spices, sugar
Have a safe and enjoyable camping experience!
Postscript: I remember my mom always talked about writing an article around this list, so hopefully my family will not mind that I am publishing it here today. My mom, Louise H. Sweeney passed away last month so I partly wanted to get this published as an homage to her. She was an amazing woman and loved the outdoors. Please think of her when you are bug free, with a full belly, using your flashlight with working batteries, enjoying the splendors of the wilderness.
7/26/2011 -added: power-strip, h20-purification kit, rope, bungee cords, clamps and corkscrew/bottle opener. Plastic wine glasses are frivolous, but a nice luxury when camping.