FAQ -- What to Bring to Camp

“Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and full use of senses. Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of the confusion. Nature can frighten a child, too, and this fright serves a purpose. In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy; a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace. “ – Richard Louv Last Child in the Woods

Youth and Gear

Check your thrift store first for great values on clothing and camping gear. I would rather you not spend a ton of money on gear until they learn from what you have and learn from the mentors what is the best bang for the buck and what works best for the type of camping you or your child intends on doing. During introductory camps you will learn what will best fit your particular needs and wants.

Help Your Kids be Present

Please don’t send the kids with any electronics of any kind, no electronic games, no cell phones, no iPads, etc. It takes roughly three weeks to break the habit or addiction to social media, internet, and games. The first week is the hardest. We give the teens a new real-world of adventures and habits to substitute for their dependency on electronics. If they know that they have it hidden it will make it harder for them to get off of it. Calls to and from home make kids homesick not alleviate homesickness. They will have access to a phone for emergencies and to arrange for pickup. From time to time we will post photos to the Camp Facebook Page if we can get a cell signal.

A Few Words on Homesickness

Homesickness is not something you pack for but something you do not pack for. Mothers if you keep talking about how your kids have never been away from home in front of them or saying things like, “You’ll be fine it is only a short time.” You are sending them with the baggage to be homesick. If you have sent them with a hidden phone you are adding to the problem. Click here for more information on homesickness

What to Bring to Kids Day Camp:

Please don’t send the kids with any electronics of any kind, no game boys, no cell phones, etc. They are allowed to bring knives as long as they are signed off in writing by you that they have sharpened 10 pencils and you are comfortable with them using knives. All knives MUST have a locking blade or sheathed fixed blade. They will also have to pass our knife safety test before being allowed to use knives at camp.

  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottle
  • Daypack
  • Sunscreen
  • Layers as the mountains have climate changes from cold in the morning to hot in the afternoon. We can have rain at any time
  • Hat
  • Hiking boots or tennis shoes are preferred (ankle support is important) leather boot if the will be around the horses
  • Long pants
  • Bandana

Mandatory Gear for all Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute Overnight Camps and School


All campers are required to bring an appropriate knife to our camps, understand the knife rules, and demonstrated knife safety. Again YOU must be comfortable with them using a knife to attend this camp. Click here for a good discussion on knives and youth. All knives MUST have a locking blade or sheathed fixed blade and must be sharp. They will also have to pass our knife safety test before being allowed to use knives at camp. We will test them at the beginning of camp. What is on the test is on the link above.


In the Northwest Mountain weather changes daily and throughout the day in all seasons. Temps can go from near freezing at night to the 80s during the heat of the day. They may be cold at the beginning of a hike and hot within minutes. The most basic of skills is knowing when to add and remove layers to stay comfortable and dry. Getting clothing wet on the outside from rain or mist or the inside from sweat cannot only be uncomfortable but dangerous. Becoming too hot can be just as dangerous as being too cold. Again learning to shed and add layers is a learned skill and their responsibility.

  1. Base Layer for hygiene Cotton pulls moisture away from skin reducing bacteria and fungi. We suggest three cotton Tee shirts, underpants, and gym socks. We strongly suggest that the camper/students bath each day and wash their underwear and sock at that time.
  2. Base layer for warmth – Long Underwear We suggest Moreno wool as the base warmth layer it is not itchy like other wool. Moreno wool is an investment there are less expensive man-made blends. Key is cotton is a poor choice for warmth if that is all you have and it is wet. In the wilderness when you can’t get to the warmth of a building wet cotton kills. At night with cold temperatures Medium weight and heavyweight wool socks worn over cotton will prevent itching and keep the wool socks cleaner. We suggest two pairs each.
  3. Outer Layer for Warmth Wool or wool substitute is best for layers meant for warmth. Again wool can be expensive, therefore, check thrift stores. There are manmade wool substitutes but avoid cotton blends, remember wet cotton kills. The students will hand launder their outer clothing and work closes every 4th day
  4. Outer work layer Cotton denim such as blue jeans works or the heaver Carhart like are best for the layer that will be most used during hikes, chores, and skill-building. Synthetics, unless it says fire protected, could be dangerous around a campfire. We suggest two pairs if one gets wet.
  5. Shorts Shorts should not be used when hiking, working, or cooking but is ideal when lounging around a stream or swimming.
  6. Cold Weather Parka Wool, fiberfill, down, or fur all have advantages and disadvantages. We just need something is the temperature gets cold.
  7. Rain Shell Rain Shell is an outer layer that sole purpose is to keep your warm outer layer dry even in wind. These can be one-piece or two-piece. The backpacking length poncho is essential not only for keeping the hiker and their backpack dry, it is essential gear that we will use to make shelter and many other uses. The poncho and paracord are essential items that will be with them with every hike.
  8. Hat and Beany Our purpose of a ski beany keeps the head and ears warm when it is cold and the hat keeps the sun off the head, ears, and face during the heat of the day.
  9. Bandanas These have many uses and will be used throughout the day. Cotton is best for this. Bring three.
  10. Hiking Boots (ankle support is important as well as good traction)
  11. Comfortable Closed Shoes to Wear in Camp Please no sandals or flip-flops

Special Consideration For those camps that have river rafting or other forms of boating:

River rafting companies may have their list of clothing allowed while rafting which we will send you if that is a part of the camp. River rafting companies have their own waiver of liability that must be read and signed before arriving at camp.

  1. Non-cotton clothes are required while river rafting – NO cotton is allowed to be worn when on the water.
  2. Water Shoes are required while river rafting

Eating Utensils, Cooking, Stove, etc.

This list is essential and fills the needs of most camps. There is a separate list for the advanced backcountry cooking class. 1. A metal cup (for drinking hot drinks, must be able to heat on stove, etc.) 2. A metal wide-mouthed water bottle must be able to be heated on a stove or in a fire. 3. Plate 4. Spoon, Fork, or Spork Plastic fork or spoon will not last the trip, they tend to melt or break. Many learn to make and use chopsticks. 5. Stove Our youth camps are to prepare them to be backpackers so Backpacking stoves should be brought so they learn how to use them. If you already have a stove, if it will boil water it will work. For advanced teen camps and multiple week camps we suggest Multi-fuel backpacking stove (Suggested or similar REI MSR WhisperLite Stove) and fuel bottle. We will provide fuel. 6. Pot A 2 cup camping pot or a bit larger with a lid to boil water. 9. Bear canister. All food, snacks, toothpaste, etc must be kept in these canisters. Most everywhere we conduct programs have bears. Even if we camp in an area that is not known to have bears a bear canister is required because of other animals such as raccoons, wood rats, etc. All food, candy, toothpaste, etc. must be stored in it.

Making Fire

  1. Bic or Zippo type Lighter Campers that are flying in will need to bring cash to be able to purchase locally.
  2. Ferrocerium Rod (Ferro Rod) Fire Starter Rod We do not need anything but the rod, no striker, no magnesium rod or block, a handle is not necessary. What we use is ½ inch diameter 6 inches in length with a lanyard hole and mil-spec. The large diameter and length aid is used. All campers and students will become skilled using this tool
  3. Altoids Sized Tin Bring two, we will use these to make tinder in on one to keep wooden matches in (we will supply the matches for those flying.

Other Essential Items

  1. Ziploc bags (3 or more)
  2. Roll of Dog Poop Bags Yep, what you think they will use it for is what it will be used for. We will be in a natural setting in the wilderness and the campers and students will learn and practice to leave no trace.

Camping Essentials (None backpacking camps)

  1. Sleeping Bag (night time temperatures may be in the 30s some people a 3 season bag is warm enough some a 4 season bag may better suit your needs. Use your best judgment)
  2. Ground pad
  3. Two each cheap blue tarp 5 x 7 or 6 x 8. We will make a tent from one and a ground cloth with the other. Do not bring a tent.
  4. 50 ft of 550 paracord (this is key to many skills we will learn, we will cut this into various standard lengths
  5. Day Pack
  6. 2 large trash bags (one for trash and the other to cover backpack in case of rain)
  7. The Headlamp must have a red light feature, a small hand lamp, and extra batteries. No lanterns
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste. We provide Dish Soap and Epson salt for washing with.
  10. Insect Repellant (mosquitos and ticks are in this area)
  11. DO NOT Bring a Tent The tarps and paracord listed above takes the place of a tent

Something to put your gear in

Full-size Backpacks are convenient for putting your gear in and moving it but not essential a large enough duffel bag will work for camps unless designated as a backpacking camp.

Backpack for Backpacking Camps

For those camps that backpacking will occur a backpack will be required in a size necessary for carrying all your gear and fit and comfort is essential. Here are two resources to help with that.

How to choose a backpack How to fit and adjust a backpack

Safety Equipment

Must of our camps are skills camps and some skills and activities propose a risk.

  1. Work gloves (for use with many skills we will learn, such as rappelling, collecting firewood, flint knapping and working with the equine)
  2. Safety glasses are required for all camps and will be required when learning many skills.
  3. Earplugs and earmuffs (required in firearms camps)
  4. Bear Spray must be purchased locally it cannot be carried in aircraft. Bears are common throughout Idaho and other states we hold camp though bear attacks are not, it is best to both be prepared and skilled. What to do in a bear encounter and use of the bear spray is covered in all camps.

School Supplies

Don’t let this heading scare you camp is meant to be fun and it is. The following is recommended for all camps but is only mandatory if wanting to earn school credit.

  1. Journals
  2. Sketchbook
  3. Pens and pencils

Navigation is a basic skill we teach in all camps, and any function compass is required in all basic camps. In our stand-alone navigation and all advance camps, we require the more advanced navigational tool

  1. Compass: [The Suunto-mc-2] (https://www.rei.com/product/787189/suunto-mc-2-pro-compass) is the compass we recommend, and is the compass we require the students in our private school. The student will learn to use all the features of this compass. Again in basic camps any functional compass will do.
  2. Altimeter (mechanical) required only for advance navigation camp
  3. Calculator with trig functions required only for advance navigation and other advanced science camps
  4. We will provide a map for the area

Optional items to bring:

  1. Camera (if in a total immersion photography camp see recommendation below in the heading Photography Camps)
  2. Field Guides
  3. Hand Lens
  4. Binoculars

Firearms Camps

Those students that are in one of the hunt, advanced, or other selected camps (with parental permission) will use Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute owned firearms. However those students that have rifles or shotguns fitted to them may, with director approval, may bring their firearms to camp along with appropriate ammo. Contact us to discuss this.

Archery Equipment

Archer equipment will be provided for instruction, however, if a student has appropriate and sized correctly bow and accompanying arrows the student may be given permission to bring these to camp. Remember both bow and the arrows must be sized for the teen and the arrows must have the proper spline for the bow. Because of safety issues with spline, NOLI arrows will not be used with personal bows. Personal bows will be under the control of the director and will be only in the possession of the camper during archery instruction and/or practice at the range. Private bows will not be shared with other campers. Please contact the Camp Director Brian King well before camp if you want your students to bring archery equipment to camp.

Photography Total Immersion Camps

Any digital cameras (with extra memory, battery, charger, and USB cable) can be brought to camp. To get the full benefit from this training the following equipment might be considered.

  1. DSLR Camera that Speed, F-stop, ISO setting can be manually set
  2. Spare Battery
  3. Camera Manual
  4. Lens cleaning cloth
  5. Cable release/remote shutter release
  6. Tripod
  7. Cable release/remote shutter release
  8. Lens or lenses covering the focal lengths from 18 mm to 300 mm or greater
  9. Extra memory
  10. Neutral Density Filter (used to allow for showing motion on bright days. Two polarizing filters together serve as a variable neutral density filter.
  11. A polarizing filter(s)

Please note: The safety and protection of all personal photography equipment is the responsibility of the camper. We will have a locking trunk that photography gear may be stowed.

Fishing Equipment

We may have an opportunity to fish and we teach fly tying you may bring your own equipment for both. Teens 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license. We have basic fly tying tools and supplies for the students to use.

Art Camp Supplies for Art Immersion Camp

  1. Charcoal – we will make charcoal sticks in camp
  2. Sketching Pad
  3. Sketching Pencils of various hardness (We tend to use 4H, 2H, HB, B)
  4. Color pencils
  5. Smudge
  6. Water colors
  7. Water brush
  8. An old cotton sock
  9. Pastels

Climbing Gear

We provide climbing gear, but some students in the advanced camps may be more comfortable with their own gear.

  1. Climbing harness (Suggested or similar REI Petzl Corax Climbing Harness)
  2. Locking D ring
  3. Super 8 belay device
  4. Climbing helmet

Adult In the Wilderness Essentials Workshops including Ladies in the Wilderness Essentials


Our Essentials of Survival Weekend Adult workshops are not equipment intensive, you will find the more you learn the less gear you will bring. Those enrolled will only need basic camping gear listed above.

Food and Cooking

All participants are responsible for their own food. That being said cooking is not a focus of EOS 1 through 6. However, part of EOS 1 is learning who to efficiently prepare a freeze-dried meal. To this end please bring a typical freeze-dried main dish. “Just-add-water soups or noodles like products are also good to have for in case you get hungry.

Also bring food that will not take any preparation such as summer sausage, salami, jerky, or cheese for protein; crackers, trail mix, nuts, or granola for carbs, all to get you through the weekend. We will have a fire (depending on current fire restrictions) for hot dogs and marshmallows for the first night.

You should bring a camp or backpacking stove and a container to boil two cups of water in if you have one. Unless otherwise noted like water will come from a well or spring and will be filtered in camp.

Bear Spray

As noted above bear spray is required and the use will be discussed.

Beyond EOS 6

Advanced workshops have may have specific requirements in gear and consumables beyond what is listed above and will be provided with the information on those workshops.

"Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life."
—John Muir
"Perhaps the ache of homesickness was a fair price to pay for having so many good people in her life."
—Becky Chambers