Sleeping Bag and Pillow
Without a pillow, you could be facing a rocky night's sleep. Kids also like having a pillow for the long car ride and as a little piece of home to sleep with if camping is a new experience. Your pillows may smell like a campfire for a few days after your trip, so consider getting a different set of pillows for camping.
Air Mattress, Cot, or Sleeping Mat
Do your family a favor and test your air mattresses and blow-up sleeping mats for holes and leaks before your trip. Remember to bring a battery-operated air pump for your mattresses unless there's one built in. Avoid setting up camp on rocky areas that could puncture your mattress.
Flashlights and Lanterns
Get ready for pesky moths and bugs to be attracted to the light, though. Try to turn off your flashlight before you enter your tent and zip the tent closed before turning the light back on to keep out bugs.
Bug Repellent and Citronella Candles
Nonperishable Food and Bottled Water
Also bring plenty of nonperishable food that will stay cool and safe in cans and jars until you're ready to cook and eat it. Canned chili and soups and dried soup mixes, individual mini cereal boxes, and individually packaged crackers and peanut butter or pretzels will stay fresh. Try to store your food in the car at all times when you're not eating it because animals will scavenge at all hours of the day.
Get some ideas for kid-friendly camping foods.
Toiletries and Toilet Paper
Even if the weather forecast calls for pleasant climate, be prepared for cold, buggy nights. Bring jeans or other long pants (capri pants won't cut it), a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, socks, and close-toed shoes to help keep your family warm and protected against bugs. Pack older clothes that you don't care about getting dirty or ripped.
Books and Games
Bring playing cards and simple board games without a lot of pieces to lose. Telling ghost stories, reading, or playing games by the campfire or inside the tent will make more lasting memories than playing videogames. There's something special about living and playing outdoors for a few days!