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What to pack for Summer Camp

Summer Camp Packing Checklist

While you consider which Summer Camps to book this year, we have put together some tips for you to help prepare your camper for their Day Camp and Overnight camp.

Your camper may be a first-time camper and it may be your first time as a parent choosing and booking a Summer camp.

Summer Camp

What is the best age for a sleepaway camp?

Almost all of our campers start when they reach a certain age; some older children aged 8-11 are eager to get together with their new friends and a number of 11 – 12-year-olds are still not ready for camp.

What to include in your Summer Camp Packing List

What should you bring to Summer Camp?

For Day Camp, you’ll need to check with the Camp operator what snacks and food options will be available for your camper. You might want to pack a lunch bag or a snack bag with non-messy items, like cereal bars, fruit in baggies, or similar.

Also, be sure to supply a refillable water bottle and make sure it’s labeled with your child’s name and your cell number, so if it’s found you can be contacted to come and collect it.

Be sure to bring layers of clothing, in case the weather changes or the air conditioning is on high, and pack a sweater too. Be sure to supply tennis or closed-toe shoes in addition to slides or flip-flops, for any sports or activities that require them.

summer camp ideas

What should I pack my stuff in for summer camp?

Usually, large tote bags or even a duffel bag are good options, in addition to rolling cases with a strong handle. They need to be able to go flat and be stored underneath a bunk bed or at the top of a piece of furniture in a cabin at Summer Camp.

Packing: The Must Haves

Start with a Summer Camp packing list. Usually, your Camp can supply you with a list to start from. Campers also tend to lose their clothes too, so ensure every item is well labeled.

Labeling these bags is crucial, especially if the bags are being collected and transported separately to traveling to your camper.

When should I start packing for sleepaway camp?

Start packing before the weekend before your child is due to leave — overnight camps usually publish packing plans several months prior to the event.

It’s easier to start early and purchase items once you’ve booked the Summer camp. Amazon is our friend!

What should I pack for an Overnight or 2 week sleepaway camp?

Our recommendations for your Summer Camp Packing list: don’t bring new or designer, expensive clothing as they could get so dirty you can’t get the stains out or even worse, those items get lost while they’re at camp.

  • 5- 6 pairs of shorts
  • Sunscreen: supply one bottle per week of your child’s camp stay. This is crucial in the summer sun.
  • A couple of different types of hats.
  • Two to three sets of short trousers.
  • Spray for bugs that aren’t harmed by kids or pets.
  • Two short or long sleeve shirts in case it gets cold.
  • Vitamins and medication packages** – these may need to be supplied directly to the camp directors or the camp nurse or medical staff.
  • 2 sweatshirts
  • Soap, body wash, and toiletries. Ensure you buy a shower caddy or an easy way to store them.
  • 2-3 shirts
  • Pajamas
  • Long pants or jeans, maybe some sweatpants.
  • Two shirts with short sleeves.
  • Pack a reusable water bottle (maybe two, in case one is lost).
  • Towels and washcloths (bath towels for showers & some towels for the lake or swimming pool- don’t pack expensive towels!)
  • Swim goggles (labeled!) in addition to 3 swimsuits or bathing suits.
  • Socks or undergarments.
  • Sandals (flip flops and slides for slippery surfaces) and shoes. Consider water shoes, if the camp is close to water (your child may be on boats on a lake or a river)
  • In case of wet weather, it might be worth packing a windbreaker or a light jacket with a hood and a plastic bag for wet clothes
  • Don’t forget a large laundry bag for all the dirty clothes – ensure that is labeled too.

Ensure you make arrangements for all your Campers’ Medications. In many overnight camps, the camp nurse or camp staff will contact you to ensure they fully understand what your camper needs and when, and also how they should take receipt of those medications.

They’ll need to get your Insurance information ahead of time, so they can use this as needed at their local pharmacy, as well as know about any allergies. When you pack things, consider sending Vitamin gummies and also medications that treat bug bites in addition to your child’s preference for sunscreen.

Summer Camp packing checklist

Most likely, the camp activities will include sports while they’re at sleepaway camp. Be sure to pack tennis shoes (not brand new ones or expensive tennis shoes!)

You’ll also need a pillow, don’t forget their favorite blanket and stuffed animal, a sleeping bag, sheets (flat and fitted sheets), and other bedding in addition to a clip-on fan and other small items like a traditional flashlight, card games, disposable cameras, spare batteries and other non-electronic items for any downtime they have when they rest in their cabins.

You could also consider writing notes and hiding them for your Camper to find once they arrive at their camp and unpack.

They may be able to purchase snacks and small items at a Camp store, so be sure to provide some cash for spending money.

Top Tip!

Involve your child in the packing process and show them how to repack their bag when they return, especially for overnight stays.

Be especially mindful of hidden pockets and show them where you are storing smaller items that they may need but cannot easily find when they unpack.

What to leave at home

Cell phones and expensive electronics, as well as valuable items that cannot be replaced!

What is the best age to go to summer camp?

Before sending your kids to summer camp, it’s vital to evaluate maturity and readiness.0

Usually, for most parents, it’s a decision based on your comfort level. What we notice is that the average ages for Summer Camp start from the age of five to six for a day camp to 7 to 17 for the sleep-away camps.

If your future camper is aware of the rules and expectations and you both feel comfortable with them, it could be a good age to start going.

When should I book a Summer Camp for my child?

If you are looking for a specific type of Summer Camp, like a type of dance or art camp, or something more niche, like Wakeboarding, you will want to book early.

Many camps open up their booking between January and March. Many Summer Camps also have special offers for early booking. Usually by mid-May, many are already booked, so don’t leave it too late.

Keep an eye on the dates when camps usually release their schedule, and pricing and open their booking window. Often you’ll need to put down a deposit when you book and you’ll be notified of the sequence of payment dates.

Ensure the camp has your correct contact details to communicate any changes ahead of time.

Ensure you keep our Summer Camp Guide available, so you can search and filter on interest, age, and location, to see what options are open to you.

Check out these great Summer Camp options


  • Abbie

    Hi, I’m Abbie, super mom, and busy-bee who moved to Plano from London, England with my husband and 2 kids, Jesse and Lucy, in the Summer of 2013. Plano Moms was my lifeline when I arrived as I didn’t know anyone or anything about my new city that I now called home. When I’m not being a Plano Mom or being a taxi service to my kids, working out, cooking and reading (when I find the time!)

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