If you've never been camping and you are planning on taking your family on a weekend excursion into the woods, then you need to be prepared. While you might have chosen a national park or state park and researched its accommodations, there are still things you will need to bring along. The site might have a bathroom, and some access to fresh water, but you are still going to want to bring along the necessary camping supplies so that you are prepared for your vacation in the semi-wilderness.
The Proper Size Tent
The main piece of equipment you are going to need is a tent. You can't camp without a tent, unless you plan on really roughing it and sleeping out under the stars (which might sound cool, but is not for first time campers). You are going to want a tent that is large enough to fit everyone. This is easy to do because tents are designated for the number of persons that can sleep inside.
So, when searching for a tent, the first filter you need to use is number of people. This will eliminate all of the tents that are too small. You can get a larger tent, but never get a tent that is too small. The inside will get way too hot if too many people are sleeping inside.
Some other factors to consider is if the tent is a "pop up", which means the tent doesn't need to be assembled using poles. You should also make sure that the tent is waterproof (so that if it rains, you won't get wet inside). Some tents will require you to add a rain tarp, but there are tents that have this feature integrated into the main design.
Even if you're camping out in the summer, you will need to get sleeping bags. The temperature will drop down at night and everyone will be cold if they are just sleeping on an inflatable air mattress. So, get sleeping bags. If you are camping out in the summer, make sure you get summer weight sleeping bags, not the ones that are designed for cold weather.
One of the big problems that you encounter when you camping out are ticks. These little critters might appear harmless, but they can spread lyme disease, which causes serious, chronic problems. They can crawl up onto your socks,and sink their teeth into your legs without you even knowing it. So, it's important to bring along insect repellent and spray it on your boots, pants, legs (as long as you get a skin safe product) and also around the entrance to your tent.
Camping Cooking Supplies
You will want to experience the fun of cooking out in the open, not simply eat granola and cold canned food. So you should buy camping cooking supplies. Depending on what is available at the campsite, you might need just some camping pots, pans, and dishes. All of these should be made of stainless steel so that they won't crack or shatter while you are washing them in a nearby river.
If there are no fire pits with grills available, you are going to have to bring along your own portable grill to set up over a camp fire that you build. Or, if the park does not allow open camp fires, you can get a portable camp stove.