What to Remember When Packing for Camp


Summer-Camps.jpgEvery year, the highlights of camp season are different. A new friend made, a new hobby discovered or perhaps a new favorite food. But the hard part of dropping your kids off is always the same. The worry, the rush and, inevitably, the forgotten items.

We spoke to local camp directors to find out what kids need most at sleepaway camp. Here’s what you can expect your child will need for those longer stays, including a checklist to make packing a little less worrying.

Liz Heilbronner, director of Camp Horizons in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley; Grant Larsen, director of Camp Wabanna in Edgewater, Maryland.; and Lisa Handelman, director of Capital Camps in Waynesboro, share what kids forget the most when packing for camp.

Bedding and gear
Bug bites aren’t always the first thing to come to mind when packing for summer camp, but with many summer camps having activities near and on the water, or surrounded by nature, maybe it should be. Kids should be sure to pack bug spray and sunscreen to keep their skin safe and healthy so they can focus on having fun.

When it comes to clothing, don’t bring any outfit that can’t be replaced. At camp, kids are active, kids get dirty and, sometimes, clothing items can get torn or misplaced.

Kids should also bring at least two towels and two bathing suits. This is because if they swim multiple days in a row, their towel may not have had time to dry. Another good reason to bring a second towel is that kids may swim in natural bodies of water, including sandy or salty water, as well as in a pool. That said, children with longer hair might need a bathing cap as well.

Of all things, said Heilbronner, “pillows are the No. 1 thing kids forget to bring.” Ditto for a backpack.

Heilbronner notes that the item she relied on most back when she was a camper was a small folding seat that she could use to keep herself up off the grass and stay a lot more comfortable.

With all the running around, climbing, jumping and other activities at camp, it’s also easy to get dehydrated. Kids should always bring a reusable water bottle to camp to stay comfortable and safe.

Above all, it’s important to remember that unique camps have unique activities, and parents should always check with directors about specific gear their child may need. According to Larsen, kids signing up and going to Camp Wabanna have oftentimes forgotten or not known to bring fishing gear.

Comfort items
“Know that camp is an adventure, and it has ups and downs. It’s possible to be homesick and have a great time,” Handelman said.

It’s very common for children, especially younger children, to experience some homesickness. This doesn’t mean that they won’t have a great time, but there are things you can pack to ease them into this new experience.

Pack a comfortable sweatshirt, a stuffed animal, a picture from home and some paper for them to write letters about their experiences. Even if they don’t mail them, it can be comforting to write like they’re talking to their loved one.

At camp, most of your child’s time will be filled with making friends, staying active, learning and experiencing new things. But at every camp, there’s also downtime to consider.

For the moments between the madness, kids should pack a book to read, a journal to keep track of their experiences, some kind of camera to take pictures (even a disposable one) and other non-electronic pastimes.

Remember to bring:
Bedding (pillows included)
Clothes to get dirty
Extra bathing suit
Extra towel
Bathing cap
Water bottle
Bug spray


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