5 Summer Camp Packing Hacks

5 Summer Camp Packing Hacks

Originally written by Daniel Hammond, May 14, 2018, from The American Camp Association

Whether this is your child’s first year at summer camp, or they’re a seasoned veteran who has been attending camp for years, it’s always a good idea to refresh yourself on what to bring and what to leave at home. Below are several summer camp packing hacks to ensure your child is well-prepared for camp.

Getting a Head Start

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your child will be prepared for a camp is to make sure you start packing and preparing well ahead of time. Review the camp-provided checklists early on; that way you won’t have to rush around picking up supplies at the last minute. Likewise, some items on your packing list, such as camp trunks, duffle bags, or other specialty items, may need to be ordered well in advance or purchased at a specialty store. As an example, here is Pali Adventures’ packing list. Give yourself plenty of time to pick up each item on the list, especially if you plan to order the items online.

In addition to the camp-provided packing list, it’s also a good idea to make a personal packing list of other items your child may want to bring. In doing so, ensure that the items you are bringing are not considered contraband at camps, such as cell phones and electronics.

Be Prepared for the Elements

One of the top summer camp packing hacks that we recommend is to always pack in plastic. This camping hack will ensure that if things get wet or the weather takes a turn for the worse, you’ll know that important item like clothes and towels will stay dry.

Packing in plastic will also help keep your child organized during his or her stay at camp. Keep wet bathing suits isolated in their own plastic bag or dry bag to ensure that they don’t get other clothing items wet. You can also make it easier for your child to choose what to wear each day by helping your child pick out outfits ahead of time and putting each separate outfit in its own Ziploc bag.

Label, Label, Label

Label makers and sharpies are sure to become your new best friend. Label everything with your child’s first and last name to ensure that nothing gets lost or accidentally mixed into someone else’s bag. You can also label each pouch and a plastic bag to help keep your child organized during their time away at camp.

Any effort that you make to help your child stay organized during the camp session will help him or her to avoid having to dig through the lost and found.

Optimize Space

Because your child will likely be bringing one suitcase or duffel bag, you’ll want to use that storage space to its full potential. Rolling all clothing and towels versus folding them will save space and create more room for other camp essentials.

Additionally, consider saving some extra space should your child want to bring home items from the camp store or any projects or arts and crafts they’ve made at camp. While you want to ensure your child is prepared for camp, it’s important not to overpack. Oftentimes, kids will wear their favorite T-shirt or pair of shorts time and time again despite having brought multiple outfits. It’s also important that you involve your child in the packing process. This is especially important if you have a younger child who may just wear the clothing packed on top.

If your child forgets something such as clothing, this can be purchased directly at the camp store. Last but not least, before you load any suitcases into the car, it’s a good idea to make sure your camper is comfortable lifting his or her bag and that it’s not too heavy.

Stay in Touch

Whether your child looks forward to camp all year long or is preparing for their first stint away from home, having the option to write home can often be comforting. Packing some pre-stamped and pre-addressed envelopes for your camper will encourage him or her to share their experience with you. Giving your camper an easy way to get in touch with the family will provide them with peace of mind, knowing that you’re only a letter away.


Daniel Hammond is the director of Pali Adventures, offering 21 specialties and over 70 electives kids can choose from in Running Springs, California. Pali is different from other specialty camps because their specialties are so accessible. The programs are encouraging and supportive of all ability levels. They love to see campers explore activities they have only dreamed about; Pali tailors an experience to each camper. Specialties are loosely grouped into four broad categories — Adventure, Creativity, Performance, and Leadership. https://paliadventures.com

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