Knowing what to pack for summer camp can be an exhausting task, since the list of necessary items often reads like a novel. Sleepaway camp can be a great adventure for your child, but forgetting the basic necessities can put a damper on the experience. How can you prepare yourself and your child to have an amazing time with the least amount of stress possible? We suggest using these summer camp packing tips and a printable packing list so nothing gets left behind.
Summer Camp Packing Tips and a Printable Packing List
1. Plan ahead
Read all of the information the camp sends you well in advance so you know exactly what to expect. Sometimes a kids camp will have special items they require that aren’t found on a typical packing list. The paperwork will tell you the ins and outs of that specific camp. Adventure camp may have additional waivers for liability reasons. Fill out all forms ahead of time and be sure to ask if you have any questions.
2. Use a packing list and pack smart
I’ve included a summer camp printable packing list to make it easy. This has most of the items you could possibly need. A few things I did not include were: jeans and dressy clothes (you might need them depending on the camp), books (some camps might have a lending library), a combination lock (if required for a foot locker), and Ziplocs which can be used for wet clothes and dirty laundry if you don’t have a laundry bag.
When packing for summer camp, roll clothes to save space and put socks and underwear inside shoes. If your child needs all the help they can get, consider packing an outfit a day in a gallon size Ziploc bag. When they are done, they can just put the dirty clothes back in the bag (if they remember). Use packing cubes to sort smaller items and toiletries. Pack thin towels that will dry quickly, and consider sending baby powder for swimsuit chafing. Pack more underwear, socks, and sunscreen than you think they’ll need. I guarantee they’ll use them.
3. Only send items you don’t mind losing
I say this only half joking, but with my kids, they lose things at home, so it’s a given they will lose things at camp. I send them with older clothes, hats, and shoes, basically items I don’t mind getting lost or being thrown away when they return home.
4. Leave the technology at home
My kids are exposed to enough technology at home, and I truly want them to enjoy the experience of summer camp. I also don’t pay hundreds of dollars for them to go play video games for two weeks. Taking a cell phone with them will only be a distraction and prevent them from making new friends. Also, having a phone available can actually make them more home sick when they know mom and dad are only a phone call away. Not to mention it’s one more valuable item to worry about losing, so leave it at home, they’ll be fine without it.
5. Don’t forget the medications, glasses, retainer, or contact lenses
The camp will have a nurse or infirmary where prescription medications will be kept for the duration of your child’s stay. They also will have all the basic first aid necessities so there is no need for you to bring your own. It is up to your child to manage their contacts, glasses, and/or retainer, so if your child hasn’t been to sleep-away camp before, you may want to discuss the importance of these items ahead of time. If your child has food allergies you will want to make sure your child understands what to do in case of an emergency and that the staff of the camp is informed as well.
6. Label everything
There’s a reason everyone says to label your child’s clothing before sending them off to camp, it’s because the odds are pretty high that they’re going to lose at least one item while they’re away. I wouldn’t say you have to label everything, but if you don’t, send a Sharpie along with your child so they can label anything you might have missed. You might also want to explain to them where they should label. A friend of mine’s son labeled his shirt by writing his name on the outside of the shirt. True story.
7. Relax and enjoy yourself
Once you have delivered your child safely to camp, the only thing left to do is to enjoy yourself. Don’t fret over every little thing. Your child will be fine without you. Think of this as a learning experience for both of you and when your child returns, you’ll both appreciate each other a little bit more. (And if you need something to do while the kids are at camp, check out our favorite books to read this summer!)
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