The Insider’s Guide to Family Camping

Make a List, Check It Twice
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Equipment Essentials
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"Be Prepared" is an apt motto for all campers, not just the Boy Scouts. The more organized you are prior to your trip, the better the experience in the woods. And, believe me, based on your children's likes and dislikes, you're bound to forget something. How would I know that packing two small Mooshi pillows can increase their sleep in the tent from two to seven hours? Or that the flannel of the sleeping bag can often feel too hot to Melanie's skin, so now I always bring sheets? Or that Kool-Aid mix hides the taste of iodine pills? Or that M&Ms are far superior to Power Bars when Jake needs a burst of energy to make it up one of the 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains? Or that citronella-based mosquito repellent doesn't do squat when portaging your canoe across the many trails in the Adirondacks? You need bug juice with at least 20 percent Deet!

Of course, you'll remember to bring the requisite tent, sleeping bags, foam pads, layers upon layers of Capilene and polar fleece, water, iodine pills, topo maps, flashlights, pocket knife, first-aid kit including Ace bandage and moleskins, suntan lotion, insect repellent, hats, stove, waterproof matches, and more Lipton Cup-a-Soups and marshmallows than a family can possibly ingest. But it's the little things, like four frosty root beers waiting for us in a cooler in the car, that only your children can dictate.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at

Published: 20 Sep 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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