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What To Pack For Summer Camp

Posted on May 01 2017


Summer Camp Packing Tips

Another school year has passed. Another great camp season to start, so let’s get packing! Packing together with your child can be one of the most exciting treasures. But let’s first start with a great summer camp checklist.

First off, don’t overpack. It will be too overwhelming for your child.

And a quick pointer - always review deadlines for when you have to ship items to camp and check the number & size of luggage your child can bring. Also check if there will be room for storage and what kind? A hard trunk vs a soft, collapsable one? Some camps do not allow any storage, so check what types of cubbies, lockers, drawers or racks they have.

Finally, put a copy of the inventory list in the camp trunk. It will serve as a reminder to your child of what was sent, and help him/her develop responsibility for his/her belongings. You can also email one to the camp for repacking to ensure most of what you packed returns home!

Here are some other great tips that I’ve collected from experience!


Summer Camp Checklist



Most campers will require a trunk for overnight camp. There are two basic types of trunks – collapsible duffle bags or hard trunks.


If campers will have storage space in the bunk, always opt for a collapsible soft trunk. They are virtually indestructible and they are so easy to store at home.
  • If campers will not have bunk storage and are expected to use their trunks as storage, purchase a hard trunk.
  • The type of trunk also depends on the type of transport that will be required (e.g. parents bring up, camps have shipped, airline vs. bus use, etc.), so check with the camp before purchasing.
  • Put your clothes in plastic bins or shoeboxes with no lids; then, load them into your trunk - when you get to camp, just move the bins over to the drawer under your bed.


Camp Clothes, Laundry & Packing Tips

  • Remember: Many items return damaged, or not at all!
  • If the camp is a week or less, a good rule of thumb is to pack one-and-a -half times the number of days (they may not have laundry services). For camps with services, many camps ask you to buy the camp logo laundry bags to facilitate laundering.
  • Order camp clothing from the assigned catalogs and make a list of items to purchase. Many camp suppliers can sew labels for you!
  • Extra plastic bags will come in very handy to hold laundry or wet items
  • Pack extra socks. We know what mysteriously happens to socks.
  • Great Rainboots & a poncho
  • A great tip, is to pack over the door hooks or command hooks to hang jackets, bags, etc. (they will probably have hooks in the bunk already, but seems like extra hooks are always needed)
  • Pack each outfit (including underware and socks) in ziplock bags (this was suggested multiple times for younger campers especially)
  • Roll the clothes when you pack them into zip locks.


Bedtime & Homesickness

  • Always check the number of items you need for bedding and towels. This is often overlooked!
  • Do include a favorite comforting item your child can turn to in times of emotion that helps him/her feel secure (e.g. stuffed animal or blanket).
  • Bunk decorations – people mentioned colorful bed sheets, personal blankets, pictures of friends and family, and more; one suggestion – go ahead and make a collage of all your pictures ahead of time so you can just hang that on your bunk when you get to camp
  • To avoid homesickness, pre-addressed stationery with stamps to write letters home. Remember photographs!



In the digital era, let’s hope the camp doesn’t have electricity and if they do, a zero technology tolerance! 

  • Remember to pack diaries, pens, paper, and maybe even the Rubik’s Cube. Also books, small games, Hackey Sack and a Deck of Cards.
  • A good flashlight or headlight is definitely needed (probably both)
  • Extra stamps. Remember to write a lot to your camper!


Personal Care

  • Pack enough sun care protection (hat, sunglasses, and sun block, lip balm with SPF, as well as insect repellant).
  • Sunscreen Sticks are often the most convenient to apply.
    • Many of these items should definitely have name on them – as they are the first to be lost.
  • An extra pair of prescription glasses may be a good idea too!
  • Shower shoes - Flip Flops or Crocs.
  • Send any required medications separately to the infirmary.
  • Schedule a pre-camp call with a camp nurse to review any medical requirements, including food allergies.
  • Always ask how the camp helps facilitate sunscreen usage.
  • Pack your toiletries in a Ziplock so nothing leaks
  • Lots and lots of hairties!
  • And of course, Lice Repel Shampoo & Spray!

A great suggestion is to take a picture of your child sitting on his/her luggage. This will kick the entire experience off!

Have a great summer!


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