The Essential Summer Camp Guide

Written by: Alyson Klatt

Summer camp is a quintessential childhood experience. Lucky for kiddos- restrictions are
winding down, camps are reopening and kids are heading back into the bunks. It’s natural to
feel some stress about sending your little ones off to camp. The best thing you can do is prepare
so that you both can relax and enjoy the summer. Here are our tips for the best summer camp

A Few Weeks Before

Start packing early by putting aside things you know you’d like to bring like favorite
shirts or hoodies.
Decide how you’ll pack- For a weeklong stay, consider a plastic tub that can fit under
the bed. Pack sleeping bags and bedding in a separate duffle or trash bag. For longer
stays, a trunk might be the best option for your child.
Review the packing list sent by the camp for forbidden or must have items
Research and purchase any specialty equipment needed like fishing or outdoor gear.
Label EVERYTHING! Kids and even teens tend to mix things up so be sure that all of
your child’s items are appropriately labeled. Silver Sharpies work great for dark items.
Sites like etsy also sell iron on labels.
Collect extra socks and underwear. Bunks tend to get dirty. Muddy feet and pants
means you’ll be glad you sent extra. Also- don’t expect to get them all back!
Discuss camp with your child! Make sure they feel comfortable with the experience
and have realistic expectations. Go over camp activities and amenities and how your
child can best utilize them
Make friends ahead of time. Does your program have a social media group? Try to
find other kids going so the big day doesn’t feel so scary.
Special Accommodations. Whether its medical forms or dietary restrictions, make sure
your camp is prepared for your child’s needs. Don’t forget to prepare your child as well!
Make sure they know any allergies they may have or what activities they can or cannot
participate in.
Develop a safety plan. If they are able, have your child memorize guardians phone
numbers in case of emergency. Talk about what would happen if there was a bad
situation- even on a non emergent level. Who would your child talk to if they felt unsafe?
Does your child know how to exert their boundaries? Do they have the words to express
that they feel unsafe? These are all important questions to consider before sending your
child off to camp.

The Week Before

Review what you’ve already put aside. You might want to include your child in this so
they know what they have, and what they’d like to bring along.
Create or Download a packing list. Print a couple copies, and consider laminitating the
list to send with your child. If your child is anxious about losing items, have a
conversation about your personal expectations.
Double check that everything is labeled.
Pack toiletries in leak proof containers and review good hygiene with your child.
Showering can be hit or miss while away from home for both genders. Consider packing
baby or deodorant wipes for a quick refresh. Again, label everything including toothpaste
and shampoo.
Pack Carefully so that your child can find things. Packing cubes or ziplock bags can
help with this. You can also choose to include your child as everything is getting put
away so they visually know what they have.

The Night Before

One last check over your packing list. Include items like medications and charging
● Make sure approved electronics are charged and ready
● Consider a nice family dinner to say goodbye and good luck!
● Don’t be shocked if the goodbyes are quick and disinterested. Your child may feel
nervous and excited- or they might not want a drawn out goodbye. Plan what you want
to say ahead of time. Maybe even have the goodbye talk the night before so you feel
better letting them run off the next day. Remind them that you want them to have a good

Going on a hike exploring nature.
On Camp

Send Care packages that are compliant with camp rules. Consider sending items that
can be shared with new friends and counselors.
Don’t expect kids to write to you every day. After all, they are busy making core
Encourage kids to make friends throughout the camp experience. Reach out to those
outside their circle of friends. It’s okay to bond with lots of people, or to find that the
people you liked best on the first day aren’t the ones you become the closest with over
● Have your child do their best to keep things neat and clean.
● Counselors are keeping your child safe and happy in your absence- so consider learning
their name and sending them a nice note or appropriate gift.
Have a plan for homesickness! When your child calls, encourage them and reassure
them that they can do this.

Leaving Camp

● Make sure kiddos have the supplies they need to collect names and contact info for their
new friends!
● Leave room in their luggage for treasures they want to bring home.
● Have them go over their packing list when leaving to remind them of everything they
brought and need to bring home.
● Fight off post camp blues by having kids make a scrapbook or other memorabilia when
they get home! Make sure they feel comfortable to talk about their fond memories and
exciting adventures.

Packing List

Socks and Underwear
● Swimsuits it’s a good idea to send multiple, and to consider the practicality of the suit. Do
the planned activities require more coverage?
● Layers sweatshirts, jackets, long sleeves…it can get cold and damp!
● Enough shirts and pants for everyday plus extra for messes and other activities
● Pajamas for both warm and chilly nights
● Pictures of friends, family, and pets
● Stationary for letter writing
● Appropriate electronics (check with the camp for rules)
● Snacks (check with the camp for guidelines)
● Special equipment like fishing or hiking gear
Shoes for multiple activities! Consider including hiking boots and water shoes as well as
sturdy slippers or slip on shoes
● Costumes or supplies for any activities planned throughout camp like spirit day or crazy
hat day!
Backpack for daily use as well as other bags like a mesh swimsuit bag and a laundry
● Disposable or polaroid camera
● Labeled Toiletries (Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, body wash)
● Shower caddy and other shower necessities like a loofah
Bug Spray and Sunscreen
● Cheapie Sunglasses you don’t mind losing
● Goggles
Reusable Water bottle
● Baseball and/or Sun hat
● Downtime activities like a book, sketchbook, or frisbee
● Ziplock bags for snacks, wet items, or other treasures
● Extra Cash, just in case!
● For Girls: Nail polish, remover, and cotton balls

Day Camps

Day camps are a fun and exciting way to dip your toe into the summer camp experience.
They’re also perfect when you don’t have a lot of time to spare! Here are a few reminders when
planning a day camp.
● Pack a refillable water bottle with cold water. Preferably a bottle that keeps drinks cold
for at least 12 hours.
● Lather up on sunscreen before you leave the house, and pack extra in your pack
● Follow the instructions for dress and grooming including the proper shoes!
Label everything you bring, just like regular camp!
● Wear and bring insect repellent
● If your child is nervous, there may be an open house where you can meet the staff and
see the campus beforehand.
● Have a list of medications and emergency contacts handy.
● Have fun!


Whether you plan on a week or a day, summer camp is an exciting venture! Be sure to check out
the Campmor store for all your packing needs, and as always- be safe out there!

Campmor is a recreational equipment retailer that was established in Bogota, New
Jersey in 1978. The retail store is in Paramus, New Jersey, and offers much of what is offered
online and more. This article contains links to products in our store and we do profit when you
purchase from these links. Additionally, any information given in this article is given in good faith
however it is not a replacement for a comprehensive guide to the outdoors. We assume no
representation or warranty regarding the accuracy, availability, or reliability of the information
provided. Please take the time to research the environments to ensure your family’s safety. We
thank you for your support.

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