How to Set up Your Campsite

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Ready for a camping adventure? Setting up and packing up your campsite doesn’t have to be a chore. With these simple steps, you’ll be all set for a smooth start and a stress-free end to your outdoor getaway!

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Knowing how to set up your campsite efficiently helps the process take less time and go smoother.

Our biggest complaint of camping has always been the setting up and tearing down. It can seem overwhelming, and it can just take too long. Especially when you are trying to figure out how to get everything unpacked and set up while also keeping track of kids and dogs running around.

Throughout the years we have simplified this process into a step by step routine to make this as simple and quick as possible.

What to do before you hit the road:

A little bit of planning before you start driving to your campsite will make sure that your camping trip is more fun than effort.

  • Involve the whole family in planning. This gets everyone excited for the trip. Kids can help pick a kid friendly campground, pack their bedding, clothes, etc.
  • Plan the meals you knows your kids will eat and will be easy to transport and cook.
  • Practice setting up your tent in the backyard first. This way, you’ll know it’s in good shape and how it sets up before you leave. Its a great opportunity to get practice doing family overnights. (Check out guide to great tents for camping with kids if you need one.)
  • Give your gear a once over to make sure everything works. Test your camp stove and look over your camping gear to avoid surprises. Let kids help pack the gear so they can familiarize themselves with it.
  • Pack your car well. Put your tent, sleeping stuff, and fun camping activities where you can easily grab them. Make sure you use our family camping packing list to make this smoother and so you don’t forget anything!

How to set up your campsite

This guide will help you know how to set up your campsite quickly and easily so you can get to having fun exploring and relaxing instead of packing items back and forth from your car.

What to do when you arrive at your campsite:

Here are the items you should do when you first arrive to your campsite.

  • Discuss campground safety and etiquette with everyone. Make sure everyone knows where to go to the bathroom, and where their wandering boundaries are.
  • Set up your tent first. Kids will be super excited to help, especially in clearing rocks and sticks from the site. Let them check the ground to make sure it’s comfy and even.
  • Once the tent is up, have the kids get their sleeping bags and pads sorted, deciding where in the tent everyone is going to sleep. They can be in charge of carrying their bedding items into the tent and setting them up.
  • Yo can then bring in the rest of the items you need – pillows, bags of clothes and toiletries, and any stuffed animals, etc. that you need.
  • If they get bored, the activity bin is your secret weapon. This is a great time for a scavenger hunt!
  • Unloading: While kids are busy with the tent or activities, unload the rest of your stuff to set up your camp bathroom, kitchen area, and other campsite items.

Pro Tip: Put a blanket between the tent floor and the sleeping pads, the two plastics can make an annoying noise while your trying to sleep.

Setting up a camp bathroom:

Once you know where you are going to sleep, it’s time to make sure you have other necessary items in place.

  • If you are staying at a campsite with portable toilets or a camp bathroom, make sure everyone in your family knows where it is and how to get to it.
  • If you brought a portable toilet, get it set up. It’s important to have it ready for when nature calls. Depending on the age of your kids and how long your drive was, you might want to set this up before the tent. Also make sure everyone knows where the toilet paper is!

Set up your camp kitchen:

Your camp kitchen is an important part of your camping experience. Getting it all set up and ready helps make cooking simpler before you are hungry. Get your cooking area ready while kids are setting up their sleeping areas or working on an activity.

  • Make sure your water is accessible to everyone.
  • Pull out your coolers, kitchen camp box, and cooking items and have them in an area that is convenient.

Note: If you are camping in areas with bears, please make sure you follow proper safety precautions when it comes to your food and kitchen area.

Other campsite set up items:

  • A fire pit is always a good time while camping! Have the kids help prepare the fire pit and by gathering small sticks. Use some DIY fire starters to make lighting your fire easy.
  • Make sure you keep a flashlight or lantern handy by the tent entrance for night time bathroom trips.

How to pack up your campsite to go home:

  1. Have the kids pack up their stuff in the tent. Show them how by packing your stuff. Bigger stuff sacks make it easier for kids to pack their own belongings.
  2. Take care of your backpacking air mattresses by rolling them back up, and not just stuffing them in the bag.
  3. Then start dismantling the kitchen and putting everything away in its storage container.
  4. Next, take down the tent. Family tents can be like giant kites. Keep one stake in to avoid it flying away.
  5. Use leftover water to douse the fire. It’s a safe way to use up water and prevent spills on the drive back.
  6. Pack up the camp bathroom and dispose of waste responsibly.
  7. Lastly, do a final campsite sweep for trash to teach Leave No Trace principles.

What to do when you get back home:

Just because you pull into your own driveway doesn’t mean your camping experience is over! It is important to make sure you take care of your gear so that it stays in its best condition.

  • Air out and dry your sleeping gear. If you put your sleeping bag in a compression sack, put them into a larger bag for storage once they are thoroughly dry.
  • Set up the tent at home for a thorough cleaning and to make sure its all dry.
  • Go through your gear and kitchen supplies. Make a note of what needs fixing or refilling for next time.

With these steps, your family camping trip will be a breeze! From setting up to packing up, each step is a chance for fun, learning, and making awesome camping memories.

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