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Organization is the thing that most facilitates skill and in the case of tent camping, we start by developing a camping check list, the soul of our organizational efforts. Once we have a well refined camping check list then we can turn this list into a camping equipment inventory.

Generally speaking there are two logical groups on your list.

First, there are those items associated with the shelter and sleeping part of camping like the tent, sleeping bags, padding etc..

Second, we have the camp kitchen items and this is where you need to spend considerable effort. Serious campers tend to come up with some sort of chuck box to hold there camp kitchen needs. However, a large plastic tote can get you by for organizational purposes.

Perhaps the most efficient method of developing and checking you check list is by simply doing a backyard camp out. (The kids will like this!) That is, set up your entire camp in your backyard, so you can check the serviceability and inventory all the items in your camping equipment, arsenal. Then you can acquire things that either need to be replaced or that you don’t have and get rid of things you don’t need.

Backyard camping also provides a great opportunity for crew training too. Crew training is one of the secrets to being skilled at camping. If everybody knows their job then the set up and tear down become smooth efficient pastimes rather than major ordeals. This is also a great chance to help the kids develop a little independence by giving them responsibility for taking their personal items, like clothing.

Then once you have decided on your equipment inventory, consider designating a camping equipment storage area, preferably in your garage near your vehicle. That way, you know you have everything when there is nothing left to load from that area.

Ok, it sounds a little strange but if you live in a neighborhood where this is appropriate this is the best way to preflight your camping equipment. You basically just set everything up in the back yard the weekend before your first trip. This way you're sure you have everything, you know how to use it (particularly useful with new or borrowed equipment) and that it's serviceable. Plus you get a little practice setting it up. I recommend you spend the night just as if you were camping in the 'booneys'. If your chuck box is out of pepper or you need to replace a couple tent poles, you'll figure it out at home instead of 'out there'.

The kids will really enjoy this and so will you if you treat it like a 'real' trip.