Rule #1: If at all possible, know who you'll be camping with, and coordinate on big stuff. Your camp will not need two propane grills or two shade structures.
Rule #2: Pack heavy. Fill your car to the brim. You won't have to carry anything more than a few feet, or even take it out of your car, so bring anything you can think of that you might want to have.
food—See specific recommendations below.
water, 2 gallons per day—The 2.5-gallon jugs they sell at grocery stores are the way to go.
trash bags—Because you will be leaving no trace.
air mattress—If you haven't tried camping directly on the ground since your were a kid, you don't know how much of a luxury this is.
cot—The inside of my tent always turns into a giant pile of crap halfway through day 1 because I don't want to spend time organizing. Having a cot provides extra space, keeps you off the cold ground, and generally makes things feel more homey.
blanket or sleeping bag—Yes, I know it's summer. But it can get cold at night.
tent fan—Handy for mid-day naps.
baby wipes—The next best thing to a shower.
ear plugs—Because the party never really stops.
poison ivy wash
1st aid kit
whatever OTC or prescription meds you might really wish you had
alcohol in whatever form(s) you enjoy most
skill toys, glow toys, etc.
books—In case it rains or you just want to be alone for a while.
portable ash tray—A necessity if you will be smoking at all. An Altoids tin works well.
very special treats
headlamp—This is a big one. Get one with a red light so you don't have to worry so much about blinding people.
cup, travel mug, etc.—People will offer you various liquids. They will not offer you a container.
plates, real or disposable
cooler(s)—There will be ice there. Take advantage of it!
non-salty, non-sugary snacks—A big bag of Doritos is the last thing you want when you're hot and thirsty.
foods with a high water content
food you can just grab and eat
canned soup—Leave it in the sun all day to heat up!
Clothing 'n' Stuff
comfy sandals—Because going barefoot is not a good option, but you will want to remove your footwear often.
swimsuit—Perfect any time you feel like being almost but not quite naked.
jacket—Just in case.
rain gear—Unless you like being cold and wet.
socks—You'll want them if you hurt your feet.
PJs—2011 only. Purple Taco is throwing a PJ party.
towels—Because Ford Prefect said so.
Camelbak—You like staying hydrated, right?
costumes, silly hats, etc.
- Flipside packing list