Top 5 Non-Essential Camping Essentials For Kids

Camping Essentials for KidsWhat are the camping essentials when you are camping with kids?  Sometimes the gear you really need are non-essential to most campers.  Oh, how kids change things– even camping.

The following gear won’t be found in Bear Grylls’ pack, but if you are camping with young kids and toddlers, having 1 or more of these inexpensive items can dramatically increase the camping fun (and success) at your campsite.

Our Non-Essential Camping Essentials

Bug houses and habitats Bug houses are great fun aroundNon-Essential Camping Essentials for Kids the campsite.  My kids love catching lightning bugs and small frogs and keeping them in the bug houses until the end of the night, when they return the critters to their families.  These habitats are found at most discount stores during the summer months.

Bubbles.  If you have a toddler, don’t forget the bubbles.  Many temper tantrums have been halted at the sight of bubbles.  It works at home and at the campsite.  Who doesn’t love bubbles?  We don’t leave home without them.

Headlamps and small flashlightsHeadlamps are actually the other part of the equation when catching small frogs.  They also come in handy during our nightly shadow show.  After we go into our tent at bedtime, our family has a little friendly competition to see Non-essential camping essential for kidswho can make the best shadows.

Checkers and playing cards.  When we camp, we like to unplug (with the exception of the grownup’s smart phones).  This really helps our kids understand that you don’t need electronics for entertainment and allows them to use their imaginations.  Of course, we always pack Coleman Inflatable Nightstand with Checkerssome cards (we like Uno cards), a board game or checkers in case it rains and we end up spending most of the day in the tent.

Glowstick necklaces.  Every night while camping, we give each child a different color glow stick necklace.  Our kids just love them.  These necklaces also help you quickly distinguish between your children in the dark based onGlowstick for camping the color of their necklaces.


So the next time you pack for a family camping trip, pack the camping essentials, but don’t forget to pack the essential non-essentials.  Keeping kids engaged and entertained while at the campsite helps make the experience more pleasant for everyone.

I’ll see ya by the campfire.


What items would you add to this list?

(Visited 3,924 times, 9 visits today)

Sign up for A Little Campy Newsletter & continue the camping fun!

Tiffany loves tent camping and knows how to bait a hook.

Share This


  1. Bicycles they loved to go around the upper & lower loop at the camp
    their own Flashlights or lanterns they loved having their own great when they want to have that late night chat with each other or running to the thunder hut together
    Walkie talkies for each of them not only for keeping tabs when they were bicycling the loops but also for games they made up together & always fun to listen in and see what they are up to :)
    Art supplies in case it rained or one wasn’t feeling good
    Cards & Games also great for rainy days or just a lazy afternoon
    My Girls are all grown up now but they still talk about the fun we had camping when they were kids now we take shorter camping ventures with them because they can’t get away from work/school for as long a time but we must have done something right if they still want to come with us at 24 & 21.

    • We love bringing our bikes but I haven’t thought of bringing walkie-talkies for the kids. That’s a great idea. They would love those. We bring them but we use them at night for safety. We keep in contact with my husband while we walk to the shower house and back. We definitely need to get them some of their own.

      I would say you definitely did something right if they still want to go camping with you after they have grown up. I hope that when my kids are in their 20’s they will still want to come camping with us from time to time. That’s the hope. Thanks for sharing these with us, Beth.

  2. when my sons were young and camping we would bring our dogs with us. we always had bug houses, nets, fishing poles and marshmallows. such great memories.

  3. We’ve been bringing a hammock and the preschoolers can’t get enough of it. They spend hours in that thing every camping trip.

    Also, sand toys. A simple pail and shovel along with a digger or dump truck can amuse small kids with water, sand, dirt, twigs and leaves, mud – anywhere!

    Agree with the bikes. We’ve started bringing my son’s balance bike on each trip.

    We bought a battery powered glow stick this year for camping and we put it in the tent as a night light. It has a small light on it too and the glow part is strong enough to light up the tent when we get in later without waking our son up. I like it because we can use the same one on every trip without having to crack open a new glow stick.

    • I bet the kids do like the hammock. Sand toys are great for camping and to take with you when you go swimming on the beach at the lake. These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing them with us.

  4. We also bring our hammock and glow necklaces. But for us we could never go without some books! My kids love looking at books (not reading yet as we have a preschooler and toddler) and love having us read to them in the tent at nighttime. Last time we camped I wanted to bring something different for them to play with and we made “volcanoes”. You know, the old mixing of vinegar and baking soda? So easy and cheap and kept them occupied forever around the campsite as I made dinner. That has been my biggest challenge lately: keeping them occupied while making meals (after they are done swinging in the hammock!).

  5. The bug houses are great idea but another useful tool for catching those bugs (butterflies, grasshoppers) is the old fashioned but reliable butterfly net.

    We also have utilised this net for catching tadpoles in the creeks, and retrieving things accidentally dropped in the creek by my children (hats and shoes…..lost one shoe in fast flowing water, and not even the butterfly net could save that one).

    And a bit more high-tech, but fun, was night vision goggles. It certainly makes the walks around the campsites more interesting, and hide-and-seek is never quite as easy when someone has those goggles!!

  6. I really like the idea of the bug house. It’s like a bonus activity for our kids to know more about nature and have fun at the same time. Do you usually bring bug houses in your camps?

  7. Some great ideas here. Kites! We always bring kites that the kids and adults alike love. Was also going to say a butterfly net than we use to catch little fish as well as butterflies.

  8. We also put the glow stick necklaces on our dogs.

  9. Jennifer Hanci says:

    these are all such great ideas!! we have a 20 mo and we’ve taken her camping twice already :) can’t wait for spring to try some of these new ideas!

    • Don’t ya just love camping with toddlers? Although it’s sometimes challenging, it’s great to be able to look at nature through their eyes with awe and wonder;)

  10. Our yearly camping trip consists of 10 under 10 (and 4 teens), so you can imagine that things approach lively fast. I am still trying to think of new things for this year’s trip. I have glow sticks and glow bubbles. All of the suggestions are great. Anything to pry the X Box away from the older ones!


  1. […]  What are the camping essentials when you are camping with kids? Sometimes the gear you really need are non-essential to most campers. Oh how kids change things- even camping.Our top 5 non-essential camping essentials for kids won’t be found in Bear Grylls’ pack, but if you are camping with young kids and toddlers these inexpensive items can dramatically increase the camping fun at your campsite. ~~::Continue Reading::~~ […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge