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Summer Camp Essentials List: What To Pack For Camp

Attending summer camp can be a truly incredible adventure in which children experience many amazing things and make wonderful memories. However, that's only partially true if they go prepared. Ending up there without certain essentials can put a serious damper on the fun!

summer camp essentials packing list

Here is a checklist of absolute essentials campers need to pack to prepare for anything that comes their way. If you still don't know what you should pack all the stuff in, talk to the summer camp about whether you need to bring a camp trunk or duffel bag.  

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15 Summer Camp Essentials Checklist: What To Pack For Camp

Hiking Shoes

While not all summer camps are super focused on hiking, a lot of them do end up having trails to explore, and needless to say, you spend a lot of time outdoors in potentially rough terrain. Hiking shoes are the best choice of footwear in supporting the body while wandering the great outdoors, so you should pack a pair for your kid. Comfortable shoes made specifically for hiking can help any kid stay active longer and prevent sore feet. 

Ear Buds

The sounds of nature are great and all, but who says you can't enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while listening to your favorite songs. On top of that, you never know when you'll need a way to block out other types of noise, be that birds chirping too early for your liking or other campers being too loud at night.

Either way kids are better off having earbuds, as opposed to not having any.

Bug Spray

One of the most common things kids and parents forget to pack for sleepaway camp is insect repellent. While it's easy to forget bug spray, after the first few mosquitoes bite, your child will undoubtedly be regretting their decision. Some camps might have some insect repellent available, but it can quickly run out. Similarly, if your child needs a special type of insect repellent due to certain skin conditions, they might not have that specific one available. Bug bites are annoying to deal with, so make it easy on your camper. 

Water Shoes

Although not completely essential footwear like hiking boots, this is one thing that makes a huge difference in comfortability. Most camps have some sort of water-based activities where water shoes make a world of difference. Not only are they comfortable for kids to wear, but they also protect them when stepping on rocks or slippery surfaces. 

Reusable Water Bottles

Since campers work up a sweat at summer camp, they will also need to stay hydrated. Rather than relying on a plethora of plastic, disposable water bottles during their summer camp stay, why not fall back on something more efficient and environmentally friendly, like a reusable water bottle?

It's an excellent option for helping the environment and gives people a perfectly feasible way to stay hydrated as needed.

Towels

Not all summer camps include aquatic adventures, but the vast majority of them do. Many camps are located near lakes or rivers, so it goes without saying that there's a decent chance they’ll get wet. While some camps probably have their own towels, sometimes it’s more convenient and comfortable to have your own. Especially during the current times, it’s also better to have your own. Apart from having a towel to dry after swimming, consider a bath towel too.  

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is generally regarded as an item you only need when swimming, but the truth is, you should cover your exposed skin with sunscreen whenever you go outside. Naturally, you spend a lot of time outside at camp. Getting sunburn would put a severe damper on the camp experience, so pack some sunscreen and avoid that outcome entirely. While you might be able to buy some at the camp store, it's better to be safe than sorry. 

Clothing (Outdoor Wear, Pajamas, etc.)

Kids will need various clothing types when attending camp due to the nature of all the different activities. If there's a lake, they need swimming apparel (plus swimming goggles). Since most places have water-based activities, it’s worthwhile bringing a swimsuit/bathing suit along. Mainly so you don’t end up having to wear regular clothes. If hiking, you might want durable outdoor clothing.

And even for something as simple as sleeping, you'll want pajamas. Just like packing for a trip, you need all sorts of clothes for these places, so be sure to take stock of what you need and pack it all. You will need some extra clothing when attending longer camps. Consider the weather as well, since if it gets chilly at night a light jacket might be needed. 

Don't forget to bring a hat either. Since you spend a lot of time in the sun, a hat is a great way to give your face some shade protecting your skin and eyes from the sun. When playing games outside it’s also easier to see.  

Kid Camping Backpack

A backpack will go a long way in keeping all of your gear and stuff close to you and readily accessible, wherever you may roam. Consider a small or medium-sized kids hiking backpack that does a good job at distributing weight. This will help when hiking long-distances with it on. Since kids move around a lot, that ability is pretty desirable. It's much better than carrying everything in your hands or carrying a large duffel bag around.

Small Fan

Don't forget about fans when starting your summer camp packing. While most camps have up-to-date facilities with air conditioning, others are more old school with old-style cabins without any AC. A small fan can give a camper some pleasant breeze, especially if they're staying somewhere with high temperatures. Bring some spare batteries for it too.

Toiletries

Not all summer camps have toiletries available, but even if they do, it may be more comfortable using your own toothbrush, among other things like deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, dental floss, shampoo, and hairbrushes. Campers should pack the essential items they need for an ideal bathroom experience, for peace of mind at best, and so they have them when they absolutely need them. 

Pillows

You can't complete a camp packing list without pillows. Sometimes it can be hard to sleep on certain pillows, especially if you’re not accustomed to them. There is no point in risking it, and it’s worth the time and space in a camp trunk or duffel bag to bring along their favorite pillow for sleeping. No need to worry about sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow at night. And with so many energy-intensive activities, it’s best to make sure they’re getting the best possible sleeping experience at night. They can also add pillows to their sleeping bags in certain instances

Camping Chair

It's not always easy to find adequate seating at camp. You should pack a specific child champing chair, which makes a huge difference in comfort when sitting down. These aren't your typical chairs, since they're light, portable and made for the outdoors.

Family Photos

Depending on how long the camp is, kids are separated from their loved ones for a pretty significant amount of time. To decrease the risk of feeling homesick, it’s always a good idea to bring a family photo, so they don’t miss family too much.  

Extra Contact Lenses

Kids will be kids, and it's very easy to lose or damage contact lenses. The last thing you want to do is drive up to camp — especially if it's a couple of hours away — to give your child an extra pair of contact lenses because they inexplicably lost their previous ones. This is especially important if you're sending your child to a sports camp.