Camping Part I: Play, Plan, and Pack (Plus Menu Ideas!)

This London Fog Tea Latte’  is a treat for a lot of hard work!


If camping is in your future, start planning now! Plan and play on your lists to work out any bugs and decide what fun to have.

Meet with your family or whoever is going with you and discuss expectations, activities, menus, kapers (chores) and what to expect. Play around with ideas of things that your family wants to do and to eat.

If you can use a clipboard it will help keep all your lists in one place and can be used next time you camp too. Keeping a master list of what’s in your totes and loose equipment here, as well as a list for what each family member should pack will help you get ready without stress. Let your children show you how grown up they can be using their custom list to pack!

Decide what kind of camp experience you want to have. If you want lights, bring lights (with an extension cord!). If you want hot tea, bring your accoutrements. It will be your and your family’s home away from home, so set it up for you. Our favorites have been fairy lights, rocking camp chairs, a surprise candy treat, hanging bunting, and enjoying tea and fresh bread together.

Planning and Playing in my sketchbook journal for our Fall camp.


Next plan your menus. Meals for everyday and possible travelling, and a snack for every day. Think about how much cold food you want to store,  your experience level camp cooking, and your budget. Then, use the menu to plan a grocery list. Some of our favorite foods are easy bread, eggs, hobo patties, walking tacos, nachos, and hot dogs. I will do a separate post with recipes and how-tos for camp food. We also let our kids pick 2 kinds of snacks for our trip.

Planning saves you when you are out in the middle of nowhere. You just can’t forget important things.

Make Lists

This is what we pack! We keep all our master lists on a clipboard so we can get ready quickly! We keep as much as possible together in totes and bags. Here it is:

Fire Tote
firestarters, matches, lighter, candle stubs, fire gloves, bucket (for water), folding shovel, grate to cook over, camp stove, extra butane or propane, and hand warmers, kettle, dutch oven, skillet, dutch oven hook, wooden spoon, turner, tongs, knife, foil, fire forks, tea towels, silicone hot surface pad/trivet, can opener, smaller spoons to stir with, and a first aide kit

Table Tote
1 mess kit per person with dunk bag (we use a lingerie wash bag), plate, cup, bowl, fork spoon, tablecloth & napkins (casual cloth for the table works hard and makes your camp feel civilized), paper towels (try not to use, especially if you have to take your trash back out with you), fly swatter, citronella candle, couple Tupperware containers for food storage, salt & pepper, zip-lock bags, sharpie marker, big container for drinking water, 3 cheap dishpans, dish soap & brush or sponge, clothesline and clothespins, large empty detergent bottle with push-button spout for use to rinse hands, trash bags, germ-x, tp & soap for latrine

Food Tote
We try to fit our food in the Fire and Table totes, but there is not always room so in here we put shelf-stable milk pods for tea, tea, honey, splenda, snacks, dry foods, etc.

Loose Articles
Tent, tarp for tent, ice chest, sleeping bags & mats, camp chairs, rain boots, umbrellas, everyone’s duffle bags and back packs, firewood, pillows, and extra blankets

Duffle Bag
Here I pack my clothes for however many days and nights we are staying (I always dress in layers), a ditty bag for dirty clothes, a baseball cap, jacket, rain jacket, scarf & gloves (we usually camp fall and spring), make-up bag, toothbrush & paste, soap, deodorant, biodegradable wipes, meds, hair brush & holders, razor, sunscreen, bug spray,

Everyone gets a backpack! In it we put: a book, a whistle (for emergencies), a bandana (wet and wring to keep cool), phone charger, ear buds, phone, wallet, swiss army knife or  all-in-one, small flashlight, water bottle, sunglasses, an art kit with watercolors, a journal, brushes, pencils, etc.,

Sample Menu for Weekend Camping Trip
Friday Dinner: eat on the road (we usually get fast food because everyone is tired from work and school and we have to drive 1-3 hours to our camping spots)
Saturday Breakfast: fried eggs, cinnamon rolls, tea, fruit
Saturday Lunch: walking tacos,
Saturday Snack: gingerbread cookies, fruit, or cheese-its
Saturday Dinner: hobo patties with potatoes, mushrooms, salad
Sunday Breakfast: scrambled eggs with sausage, oatmeal, fruit
Sunday Lunch: hotdogs, chips, fruit (something quick so we can pack to go home!)

Sample Kaper Chart for Weekend Camping Trip
Fire Helper (set up fires, light, watch over, put out)
Cook (prep and cook food)
Kitchen Patrol (set table, wash dishes, clean up)
Bathroom Patrol (keep tp & soap filled, drinking water filled and wash water filled, clean on Sunday)
Gopher (errand runner- get wood, bring things, etc.)
Everyone helps unload and load car, set up and break-down camp!

Our master camping clipboard.


Most everything on these lists you probably already have for camping at you house. For more expensive or specialized equipment be on the lookout for things at garage sales and thrift stores. Over time you will have all your wants met. Every time we go camping we try to buy or upgrade 1 piece of equipment (big or small). Things that are on the more expensive side are: a dutch oven, cast-iron skillet, sleeping bags, tent, ice chest, camp chairs, portable butane / propane stove (you will need when it rains, and it will rain).

Take dry wood! Don’t underestimate how important this is!



We keep most things in two totes in our basement. When we come home from camping we clean everything, re-pack them and put them back for next time. As you can see from our lists one tote has our fire and cooking equipment, the other our tableware and other cooking things. Cold food goes into the ice chest and other foods into a tote. Keep in mind that racoons will come! Food must be locked away when you are not actively cooking or eating.

The last time we camped a racoon got into our dishwashing station and licked all our soapy dishes in the dishpan. He left his muddy tracks on top of the table. Thankfully, our food was all locked up!


When in doubt- take it all! (And some things that wouldn’t fit on our friend’s car too, LOL.)
If you can dream it, you can make it so! -Susan Branch

In the next Camping Post I’ll do lots of recipes and how to cook on open fires! That will be a good one!

With love and camp organization to you from Kansas Street,




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