How to Pack for Tent Camping

October is not just a month for Halloween, it is also the month that we always went fall camping in Girl Scouts. I remember having such a great time in the cool October days and somewhat cold October nights.

I was in the Girl Scouts for decades. I was also part of the Boy Scout organization for several years (Explorer, Alpha Phi Omega and Assistant Leader for Ventures in case you were wondering). I have been tent camping with both (surprisingly, the Girl Scouts were much less pampered) and tent camping independent of any group. Thus, I do not think about the parents who never went camping but find themselves packing for their son or daughter to go tent camping for the first time.

A story about a group of Boy Scouts first overnight camping experience made me wish someone had told them some of the basics and tricks I learned in Girl Scouts.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when packing personal items for tent camping (especially with Scouts):

  • If  not going backpacking, place the sleeping bag, clothes, and other items inside of two large plastic garbage bags or a large waterproof duffel bag.
  • Place the camper’s  name (and troop number if scout camping) on the outside.
  • Pack an extra pair of shoes; wear hiking boots if you have them.
  • Pack a winter cap (fall, winter, or early spring camping) to be worn while sleeping at least.
  • Pack extra socks.
  • Pack gloves.
  • Pack an extra blanket inside of the sleeping bag.
  • Pack a pad or another blanket to put under sleeping bag if the camper is not sleeping on a cot.
  • Pack a mess kit if cooking at the camp site.
  • Pack a mesh bag for a “dip bag” if cooking at the campsite (put your mess kit in it).
  • Pack a “sit-upon” if not taking portable, folding chairs.
  • Pack a water bottle.
  • Pack an extra garbage bag or two.
  • Pack/wear clothes that can be layered.
  • Pack toiletries in an easy to reseal plastic bag.
  • Pack a flashlight on top of everything, so it can be easily reached.
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent should be packed in plastic bags for spring/summer camping.
  • DO NOT PACK FOOD, CANDY, OR NON-WATER BEVERAGES IN THIS BAG – ANIMALS.
  • DO NOT PACK A SUITCASE WITH ROLLERS; THEY DO NOT USUALLY WORK WELL WHEN TENT CAMPING
  • KEEP IT LIGHT ENOUGH THE CAMPER CAN STILL CARRY THE PACK BY HIS/HERSELF.

Once the camper arrives at the campsite, the sleeping bag should stay in the bag until it is almost time to go to bed.  This will keep the dew off the bag and the bag dry.  The other clothes, etc. should stay in the bag to keep them dry until they are needed.  A damp, cold sleeping bag  and clothes are no fun on a fall camping trip, especially if there is an early snow 🙂

The most important thing to pack for a camping trip is a positive, adventurous attitude.  A good attitude can lead to a great camping experience.

Note:  This is the first in a series about camping.  Some of the items/uses will be explained in later posts.

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