How to Pack for Camp

While most camps provide their own packing recommendations, the American Camp Association offers the following handy checklist to get started in planning.

Remember to label everything. Laundry pens, iron-on labels and press-and-stick labels will distinguish your camper’s belongings from those of other cabin or tent mates. Most camps ask that you label each item, including clothing, personal items and toiletries. Make sure that your child can identify the label used.


Headgear – Parents should consider packing items to protect a camper from the sun, including scarves, bandannas, baseball caps or sunhats, as well as needed eyeglasses, sunglasses and swimming goggles.


Clothing – Clothing is a necessary component of camp – just don’t expect any to return home clean! Include T-shirts, a swimsuit and shorts for hot days; a jacket, sweatshirt and jeans for cool or cold days; and a raincoat or poncho for rainy or foggy days. Also, long pants will protect a camper from poison ivy, bugs and thorns during hikes. Check with the camp to see if dress clothes are required.


Footwear – Appropriate footwear is one of the most important items to pack for children at camp, especially when they are hiking, spelunking, running and heading to the beach. Consider packing boots, tennis shoes, sandals, lots of socks – and dress shoes, if the camp requires them. Remember that shoes should be broken in prior to the start of camp.


Bed and Bath Needs – For children attending a resident camp, parents should remember to pack the home basics – towels, as well as a blanket, pillow, pillow cases, sheets, sleeping bag, laundry bag and mattress pad. Bathroom kits are essential. Families should pack a brush and comb, shampoo, soap and soap container, toothbrush and holder, toothpaste, insect repellent, sun block and lip balm with sun block in it, plus deodorant, feminine products and shaving gear for older children.


Additional Items – Consider including books and magazines, flashlights and batteries, Frisbees or other toys, a water bottle and writing materials. When considering electronics, musical instruments and other special gear, check with the camp about its policies.


ACA recommends that family members prepare for camp together. Decisions about camp, including from what to pack, should be made together as a family. When children participate in the decision-making process, their likelihood of having a positive experience is improved.


– American Camp Association

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