Scout Camping Checklist

camping setup outdoors with tent and other camp suppliesPreparation will make all the difference in your child's camping adventure. Whether it's a first-time camping experience or your scouts are seasoned wilderness veterans, it's always helpful to get a quick refresher on what to pack.

Be Prepared 

  • Consider the Bagged Approach - Label and pack gallon-sized reusable bags for each day of the camping trip with a full change of clothes (some stores even offer jumbo bags). Remember a shirt, shorts, pants, underwear and socks. At the end of the day, the bag also serves as a great way to keep their dirty clothes separated from the clean ones.
  • Pair Shoes to Activities - Plan for hiking boot days, old sneakers that can get really muddy, water shoes and flip flops for the showers.
  • Pack Wick-away T-shirts - They're perfect for keeping cool and dry during hot, humid days.
  • Check the Sports Plan - You almost always need swimsuits and goggles. And you might need other items such as fishing gear, baseball gloves or lacrosse sticks.
scout packing checklist

Weather Changes 

  • Layers, Layers, Layers - Remember how much cooler the mornings and evenings can be when camping and bring options to keep comfortable.
  • Rainwear - Look for breathable fabrics, closed seams and hoods.
  • Hats - Protect those sensitive scalps from sun, wind and rain.

Good Night's Rest 

  • Check Their Sleeping Bags - Is it designed for their camp's climate? Make sure the sleeping bag is warm enough and be prepared with extra blankets if needed.
  • Pack a Pillow and Pajamas - Look for a pillow made specifically for camping and make sure it is washable.
  • Battery-Powered Fan - Besides helping cool down a stuffy tent, it can drown out noisy sleepers if needed.


  • Send Notes from Home - Don't miss an opportunity to remind them how much you love and miss them while they're away.
  • Pack a Journal and Pen - Encourage your child to write about all their adventures.
  • Share the Journey - If cameras are allowed, suggest ways they can document their experience and share the fun.

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Troop Requirements 

  • Check with your Troop Leader for Uniform Expectations - Be sure you know if there are any days they will need uniform shirts, handkerchiefs, scarves, badge handbooks or other scouting materials.
  • Send Spending Money - Understand the needs for all activities offered and discuss expectations with your camper before they go to camp.


  • Keep it Clean - Bring soap, towels and washcloths. Body wipes can be a great way to cool off on a hot day and they can help when showering is limited. Pack some yummy smelling hand sanitizer to encourage use.
  • Watch Your Mouth - Encourage its daily importance with a colorful travel toothbrush with a cover, toothpaste and lip balm.
  • It Doesn't Have to be a Hair-raising Experience - Don't forget a brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner, gels or hair ties. But make sure to leave behind hair dryers, curling and flat irons.
  • Don't Forget Deodorant - Please. Your child's tentmates will thank you.
  • Find a Shower Caddy - A water-resistant bag or container is really helpful as they bring their shower items back and forth from the shared bathrooms.

The Unexpected 

  • Medicines - Always keep them in their original bottles and know the camp's policies in advance.
  • Medical Release Forms - Make sure you have a signed medical release to administer meds or emergency care if needed.
  • Emergency Contact List - Along with the troop leader's copy, it doesn't hurt to leave an extra with your child as well.
  • First Aid Kit - Your camp will definitely have their own, but it never hurts to have one easily accessible, especially with extra band-aids.
  • Disinfecting Wipes - You can never be too sure of the surprises you may find at camp or in your cabin from those who came before you.
  • Keep it Dry - Camp often demands extra dry socks and tissues.


  • Rainy Day Options - Pack a deck of cards just in case — also good for late-night sleeplessness.
  • Frisbee, Anyone? - It never hurts to have a few extra toys for fun ideas just in case.
  • Bring a Good Book - Your camper probably won't touch any assigned summer reading, but an interesting mystery may be another story.

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The Great Outdoors 

  • Sun Protection - Buy whichever type of sunscreen you think is easiest for them to use consistently — spray, lotion or stick. Remember eye protection with sunglasses.
  • Flashlight - Check the batteries and bring extras.
  • Insect Repellant - Research and test on your child first. If they hate the smell so much you know they'll never use it… try again.
  • Mess Kit - Your camp may not require they provide their own (plate, knife, fork, spoon and cup), but it is essential to know in advance.
  • Daypack - It's best if they're lightweight for longer hikes, but have enough space for a jacket, snacks and a water bottle. Some even have built-in hydration packs.
  • Water Bottle - As with as many other items as possible, label it. You will be glad that you did!
Even with the extra time needed to get ready, it's hard to find an experience with more to offer than a scout campout — from building confidence, to teaching new skills, modeling self-reliance and forging valuable friendships. 

Laura Jackson is a freelance writer based in Hilton Head, S.C. with her husband and two teenagers.