Terrifyingly Organized Camping


Traditionally, Camping With The Collards involves at least one close encounter with a bear, bobcat, coyote or snake.

(Editor’s note: seriously, what is it with the Male Species?  Show them a snake, they’ll poke at it with a stick.  The Todd doesn’t poke in a mean way, mind you–but why poke at all?  Why?  WHY?)   The following list won’t help you negotiate camping space with the bear, but it does nearly everything else.  I found this lovely list from Families That Stick.


1. Stop mail and newspaper.
2. Plug lights into automatic timer.
3. Turn off water heater (seriously, why have I been heating the water while gone??!)
4. Put pine-sol in toilets and turn off the water (between tank and wall).
5. Tape fridge &/or freezer shut (I have never done this, but it is a great idea!)
6. Turn off air-conditioner.
7. Activate your “screen watcher” app. – Whenever you want, you can take a picture from your computer and it will show on your phone. too cool!
8. Turn on your alarm system.
9. Make sure your batteries in fire detectors are working.
10. Change your oil!
11. Don’t forget to give a trusted neighbor a key and tell them your schedule & leave numbers.

CAMPING MENU We cook almost every meal on this trip – but we have a kitchen which makes it uber-easy. Also, we do family meals (serving about 15 people). Each family takes a night and cooks for everyone. Love it! (if you are looking for some great ideas, click the link below) Great blog post on camping menu & prep

VACATION BINDER: I make a binder to bring with me on road trips.  The vacation binder includes:

1. Customizeable Vacation Checklist – As everyone has different items to pack – this is a great template that will help you print out your own packing list.

2. Passwords & account numbers that I may need away from home.

3. Map – printed out, so I don’t have to rely on cell coverage far from civilization.

4. Coupons for chain restaurants.

5. Nearby activities for destination.

6. Menu & grocery shopping list (and coupons, if I am really feeling organized!)

7. Map of destination area.

8. List of ideas when the kids start going crazy in the backseat. (super-great life-saver!)

9. Packet for receipts (great to be able to look back and see what you reallyspent!)

10. Camping menu (and the recipes to go with them!)


1. A binder for each small person. Include things that are their age level, pertaining to vacation destination.

2. We include maps so the kids can follow along on the ride.

3. Car bingo.

4. Coloring pages, printable games, etc…

5. Small amount of spending money. This is great fun for the kids when you stop at a rest-area or gas station.

Here are some items I consider “must packs:”
Sanitizing wipes – For hands, spills and hotel rooms, pack travel size packs in each of your children’s backpacks.
Sponge – Take a sponge and cut it into 2-inch strips then moisten and place in a Ziplock. These will be handy for quick washing of water bottles, children’s cups, faces and more.  Toss each one in the garbage after use.
Earphones – Pack one set per person. Use with the electronics they bring along or for airplane entertainment.
Gum – Take along several packages of gum to help prevent ear pain. Chewing gum helps to pop plugged ears as well as keep them from plugging during takeoff and landing.
First aid – Create or buy a mini first aid kit complete with bandages, antiseptic wipes and children’s pain relievers.
Ziploc – Pack extra, empty Ziploc in the various sizes they come in for dividing snacks, storing liquids items and more.
Reusable shopping bag – Great to use as a beach bag or laundry bag and for day trips and bringing home souvenirs in if you run out of space in your suitcase.
Plastic grocery bags – Stuff a couple in your carry-on bag just in case you need them for garbage or clothes that get spilled on.

SNACK BOX: You will be shocked by the amount of money you can save by NOT shopping at the gas stations on snacks!

1. Frozen juice boxes & water bottles

2. Antibacterial wipes

3. Home made Chex Mix

4. Home made Chocolate Chip cookies

5. Cut up fruit & veggies

6. Cold juices and water

ACTIVITIES WHILE CAMPING (a.k.a. Make Some Memories!): click on these links for awesome project ideas – you will need to bring along a few basic items (which are listed on each craft) – for most of the crafts, you will need to take a walk in the woods and gather rocks, sticks, leaves and acorns. Paper Boats Camping Diorama Leaf Rubbings Sticks & Stones People Acorn Necklace Nature Prints Swirly Stones Super Easy Craft with Leaves Rock Bugs Hopscotch

Camping Scavenger Hunt List

All you need for this is just a list printed out for every “hunter” and a brown paper bag!


1. Pinecone 6. Acorn
2. Smooth river stone 7. Bird feather
3. A Maple Leaf 8. Rock that looks like an arrowhead
4. Sand 9. Winged seed (like maple, dandelion, etc..)
5. An Oak Leaf 10. A rock that looks like an animal
Bonus #1: A bird nest Bonus #2: An antler

Camping Photo Scavenger Hunt List

Everyone takes their cell phones and this list into the woods and captures as many of these pics as possible! How fun and easy!


1. Hollow log 6. Tallest tree you can see
2. Climbing a tree 7. Wildlife (extra credit for the best pics!)
3. An Oak Tree 8. A Pine Tree & team members
4. A boot print 9. Animal tracks
5. Animal scat (ewwwww!) 10. Swinging on a vine
Bonus #1: A bird in flight Bonus #2: A beaver dam
**All group members must be in at least 1 picture!!**
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