Camp season is equal parts excitement and stress. Your kids may be nervous, and you’re probably overwhelmed. It can be tricky to know what exactly to pack for your kids. Here is a 2023 sleepaway camp pack list that may reduce your stress a little bit; the list comprises notes from experienced camp moms and kids.
Labels– Before ANYTHING goes into your bag, make sure it has a name label! This is non-negotiable. Here’s the best option.
Toiletries Caddy– A waterproof caddy for bringing all their items to the showers; it’s ok if it gets wet. And it means they always have everything they need for the shower with them.
Bug Spray– make sure it’s something you’ve used before so your child doesn’t discover an irritation at camp.
Hydrocortisone– or something similar to soothe itchy skin.
Sunblock– Don’t leave home without it, ever. Make sure it’s waterproof (not just water resistant), and make sure your kids know how often to reapply. One bottle per week of camp.
Toothbrush & toothpaste (and toothbrush cover!)– plus any other toiletries your kids use daily, like shampoo, body wash, and a washcloth.
Hair items– Don’t forget to pack LOTS of hair ties; they will lose them. Also, a detangler might be a good idea if your kids swim a lot.
Other toiletries to consider: Aloe, tissues, afterbite, tampons or pads, hand sanitizer, band-aids
For labelling all your little items, the Mini Labels or Small Rectangle Labels work really well, and you can find them included in the Sleepaway Label Pack.
Favorite Pillow and pillowcase
Stuffy or special item– Don’t forget to label these!
Fitted sheet– because summer camp mattresses can be slippery and yuck
Sleeping bag– Make sure it’s appropriate for the nighttime temps in your area.
Shoes– Check with your camp to see whether they have a no-open-toed shoe policy and whether they require hiking boots. Pack a comfy pair of sandals (make sure your child has worn them in and knows they’re comfortable) and running shoes. Make sure to use these (you’ll also find them included in the sleepaway pack)
Shower shoes– in case the floor is ick
*If you pack crocs, you can get fun camp-themed charms that kids love!
Water shoes- Great for camps with a lot of water sports. And yes, shoe labels will remain stuck!
Hats– Pack a few. Usually, a bucket hat and a baseball cap.
Underwear and socks– Pack them, then add twice as many and pack those too. You can never have enough. If you are wondering how to label them – this stamp is perfect!
Swimsuit– Check the swimwear guidelines. Also, pack a few! So, they always have a dry one between swims. If your swimwear doesn’t have a label, you can use this Custom Clothing Stamp
Swim goggles– Label them with a mini label at the back plastic adjuster, as labels won’t stick to the silicone band.
Sunglasses– You can label them inside the arm, and pack a few pairs, as sunglasses don’t float!
Towels– A swimming towel or two and a shower towel or two. Many great smaller towels on the market are perfect for camp because they’re so small (the Turkish towels, travel towels etc.). So many towels look alike. Make sure to use your name stamp!
Shorts & tees– The number will depend on how long your kids stay. Don’t send anything expensive or fancy.
Sweatshirts and sweatpants– The evenings can get cool in summer, and sometimes kids just want to be warm and cozy.
Pajama’s– Nothing fancy or hot. Some old comfy sweat shorts and tees are common for most kids.
Specialty items– depending on the type of camp your kids are going to, you may need other items like a life jacket, cleats, or other equipment items or clothing.
Mash bags – Pack (and label) more than one of these. They’re super versatile, perfect for laundry, wet clothing and just a general bag they may need that doesn’t weigh much or take up space. Your sleepaway camp label pack will come with 2 Bag Tags, so you can use them to label these bags, or pick up some extra
Medical needs– The most stressful of all, so let’s get this one out of the way early in the list. If your child has medical considerations, ensure you complete all your forms early. Get photocopies of health cards, prescriptions and /or notes from the doctor. Put these into a page protector and make certain everyone needing a copy has it.
Camps will have a protocol on prescriptions; make sure you’re aware of them and that your child also knows where they will be stored and whom they need to go to. This may also apply to vitamins and supplements, so make sure you understand the rules and make sure to discuss any concerns with your counsellors.
Book– The majority of Summer Camps don’t allow devices, so your kids may want to read a book at night (probably not, but parents can dream).
Flashlight or headlamp– because it’s not camp without one!
Snacks– Check your camp’s snack policy before sending any!
Birthday balloons or items– If your kids (or maybe a camp friend) might have a Summer birthday, this is a fun way to make them feel special.
Pens and notebooks– They may write home! Include pre-stamped envelopes, and this is more likely to happen; it’s an old-school way of keeping in touch. Make sure to send letters or packages back! If you don’t receive letters home, it means they’re probably having too much fun!
Journal- A great time to encourage journalling, especially if they feel a little homesick. Encourage them to write if they feel this way; it may help them feel better.
Reusable water bottle- A non-negotiable item. Pack a few, just in case. Spice them up with these!
Clip-on Fan-They may want to clip it to the bedframe on hot nights.
Pack of cards or Uno- A fun thing to have on rainy days, and they don’t take up much room.
Spending money- your camp may have a tuck shop, so check ahead of time and provide them with some money for treats.
Disposable camera – Let them capture pictures of their friends.
Duffle Bag – While totes or camp trunks are great, some camps may not have storage space in cabins, so make sure to check. *your bags or trunks MUST be well labelled as they may travel separately from the kids and/or be placed in a cabin ahead of time.
NON-ESSENTIALS THAT YOUR MIGHT WANT:
Pom-poms – because what better way to cheer on friends!
Sticker Books – to share with friends!
Crafts – for friendship bracelets!
Mini basketball hoop – A small one that suctions to a window (always a hit in the boys cabin!)
White pillowcase and markers – Some kids love to get all the bunkmates to sign a pillowcase at the end of camp.
Nightlight, string lights, fun pillows, and bunk décor
Hopefully, this provides a stress-free packing experience before your littles head off to sleepaway camp for their next adventure! If you’re still feeling anxious, here are some good reminders from an experienced camp mom, Julie Cole!