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10 Things to Take to Summer Camp You May Not Find on the Packing List

Every sleepaway camp sends a packing list to parents in the hopes that campers arrive carrying just the essentials, like clothes, bedding, and toiletries. But there are a few nice-to-haves that make camp life more fun. We don’t include most of these items on our packing list, given how important it is to pack light (there is very little storage at camp, unlike your child’s bedroom!). Many campers bring these accessories anyway, though, so they may not want to leave home without them.

1. Sunscreen

This one is definitely on every camp’s packing list, and while it might not necessarily be “fun,” you can send the kind that is easiest to apply: spray-on sunscreen. While it’s often considered less protective than lotion, it is the one campers are most likely to use. Pack a stick too, for good measure, and ask that they at least apply it to their face.

2. Water bottles

Every camp asks that you bring at least one, but it’s always good to pack an extra.

3. Lights

It’s important to pack light! Some campers can never have enough light. They’ll need a flashlight for night activities, and a headlamp for camping and nighttime reading and letter writing. Some like having a battery operated book light, too, though in our experience book lights are the first items to get lost during the summer.

4. Fans

Being in the White Mountains means the summer heat is never as oppressively humid as it can get in other parts of the country, but campers do seem to go crazy for battery-powered clip fans.

5. Comfortable bedding and seating

Our cabins are comfortably rustic, which is perfect for summer camp, but not as cozy as home. To make bedtime homier, you could pack an egg crate for the mattress; for hanging outside and around the campfire, we recommend a Crazy Creek chair or something similar. 

6. Storage clipboard for stationery

You will probably address and stamp more envelopes than you will get letters home, but you can always hope, right? This clipboard keeps their stationery and pens in one place.

7. Compact games

For cabin time, it can’t hurt to bring a pack of cards, an easy dice game like Tenzies, some Mad Libs or any other low-key, non-electronic, small game.

8. String

Pack materials for the tell-tale sign of summer camp: friendship bracelets. Though camps supply miles of string each summer, some campers appreciate having a few different colored strings to choose from for bracelet making in the cabin.

9. An mp3 player + headphones

We don’t allow screens, but we do allow iPods and mp3 players for campers to listen and dance to their favorite tunes.

10. Fun clothes

There are a few themed nights where you may want a pair of zany socks, a silly headband or a funny shirt to don. There are also some very messy events involving, say, shaving cream, so pack a few outfits you don’t care about getting dirty. And Crocs, the ugly shoe everyone pretends to hate but still secretly loves, are still popular at camp, so you may want to throw those into your now very overstuffed trunk bag, too.

Category: Packing Tips