The Complete Summer Camp Packing List

I’m leaving for camp within the next week. Packing has always been overwhelming and I constantly forgot something crucial. Last year before I even drove through the camp gates I had to stop at K-Mart to pick up sunscreen and a hairbrush because I left both of mine at home.

Whether you’re sending your camper to camp or working as a counselor, here’s some of the most important things you’ll need for your summer at camp, with some helpful tips below!


  • Pack at least one outfit for a cooler day. Yes, the weather forecast may say 90 degrees, but a late night or early morning could call for a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans.
  • Bring at least two pairs of shoes and check in with your camp to see what footwear is appropriate. At my camp, we have to wear closed toe-closed heel shoes, no sandals allowed. Even if you can bring your Chacos, I would still bring a pair of sneakers for any activities that involved running around or a ropes course. Also, bring a pair of shoes that can get wet to wear down by the water or in the rain. Don’t forget a pair of flip flops to shower with!
  • Pack as much underwear and socks as you’ll think you’ll need, then pack extra. This is usually just my overall packing advice.
  • Keep toiletries in a caddy or mesh bag. It keeps your stuff neat and organized without it being hard to find.
  • Pack at least two towels, one for showering and one for swimming. You won’t want to use your chlorine or lake water towel to dry off after your shower. Personally I bring a beach towel and a microfiber towel.
  • Bring a fitted sheet to put over the mattress. Even if your camp doesn’t require it, it’s always nice to have an extra layer between the sleeping bag and the mattress. They do get cleaned every week (twice a week at my camp) but you never know how old they are.
  • Don’t forget a hat! It’s hard to remember to put on sunscreen as frequently as you’ll need to, and kids generally don’t do a good job applying it themselves. Hats keep you from getting burned and keep the sun out of your eyes!
  • Bring every fun and goofy thing you have lying around the house. I pack a separate bag with crayons, coloring books, bubbles, stickers, glow stickers, string, beads, cards, etc but you never know when you need it. It’s nice to have an emergency staff of fun knick knacks in your backpack.

This will be my forth summer on staff at a sleepaway camp and I always tend to forget something, so who knows what it’ll be this year. What are some must-haves on your packing list?


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