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How to Pack for Summer Camp

Summer is an exciting time for kids. After two tough semesters of school, they finally get a break from studying, writing papers, difficult arithmetic, and being stuck inside a classroom. 

While it seems like it could be a chance for children and parents to get a break, summer can end up feeling just as busy as the school year. From sports camps to vacations, you might not really slow down at all. 

One of the most exciting weeks of a busy summer is summer camp. Whether it’s their first summer camp or their tenth, they probably can’t wait to meet new friends, learn skills, and enjoy the fun activities. However, what can be lost in the buzz is remembering to pack their bags. 


You don’t want to wait till the night before check-in and find yourself scrambling to remember what they need to take and what they should leave behind. In this article, we’re providing packing tips that should be helpful for cutting down the time and stress of getting kids ready for their week at camp. 

How Kids Should Pack for Camp

1) Get a Detailed Packing List from Your Camp

Every camp is a little bit different and, therefore, will require items unique to the experiences they offer. Most will provide some kind of packing list before their big week, so you be prepared before the big day arrives. Of course, if you have questions, you can always ask for recommendations on what to bring and what not to bring. 

2) Perform an Inventory of the Items You Need 

When you receive your packing list, it could be part of a comprehensive packet of information, so you might just glance at it and tell yourself you pretty much have everything you need. Then, inevitably, the night before camp, you realize you don’t have a fill-in-the-blank item. 

Some of the most common items you’ll find on your list include:

  • Clothes: warm and cold
  • Swimming gear
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sleeping bags and pads
  • Linens and towels
  • Pillows
  • Backpacks
  • Sports gear
  • Horseback riding gear
  • Bible 
  • Journal/Notebook
  • No phones

3) Do Laundry and Start Packing as Soon as Possible

Kids wear a lot of clothes during the summer. You probably pack more suitcases in those ten to twelve weeks than the rest of the year combined. It can be tough to keep up with all that laundry. Unfortunately, if it all piles up right before camp, you can find yourself with some late nights and a lot of stress. 

Try to get the laundry done as soon as possible after your summer vacations so that when it comes time to pack for camp, you will be working with clean, folded clothes.

4) Consider Packing in Tubs Instead of Bags

Conventional wisdom may say to pack for camp in bags, but with the number of items your child might need, and the size of those items, your summer camp staff may recommend packing in stackable tubs. 

5) Packing Hacks

Here are a few hacks to make your life easier as you help your child pack:

  • Label Everything: Your child will be in a cabin with a number of other kids. They might not be as focused on keeping up with their things as they are having fun and making new friends. By labeling everything, you give yourself a better chance at getting their stuff to and from camp without incident. In the event something is left behind, our camp staff can identify it and send it back home. 
  • Use Shower Caddies for Toiletries: Shower caddies can be a game-changer for helping ensure your child can conveniently bring all of their toiletries like their shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and whatever else they need to and from camp restrooms and showers. This will also help them remember to retrieve everything and pack it before heading home. 
  • Send a Laundry Bag: A mesh laundry bag can make a world of difference for you when your child returns home. Being able to sort clean dirty clothes will take a lot of the stress out of unpacking. Also, if your child is staying for more than a week, they may need to do laundry, so a laundry bag will be necessary. 
  • Space Saving Tools: Compression packs and other space-saving tools can help reduce headaches and provide a better packing experience for you and your child. 
  • Make Sure They Are Comfortable: While there is a stereotype associating camp with roughing it, many resident camps are less concerned with making kids uncomfortable as they are getting them out of their comfort zones to try something new. In other words, there may be wilderness aspects of the experience, but not discomfort for the sake of just being uncomfortable. 

Your child will be unplugged and may even get to sleep under the stars, but that does not mean they need to be cold, hungry, and using a rock as a pillow. Our accommodations are actually quite comfortable, but we also recommend sending a weather-appropriate sleeping bag, coats for evenings that can be quite chilly, and a nice pillow. 

6) Make Sure Your Kids Participate in Packing

Sometimes, having kids “help” with chores can be a chore in itself. However, it is important to have your children take ownership of their camp experience. This will help them take ownership of their camp week even before they arrive on campus. They might not even realize how much responsibility they are learning just by sorting through their things, checking off their list, and helping you pack. 

7) Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

To ensure your child gets to participate in helping you pack, you can’t wait until the last minute. Shoving things in bags, late-night trips to the store for missing necessities, and staying up past midnight leads to stress that can make their first day at camp stressful. 

Camp is fun! Packing is not as fun. Get the packing out of the way as soon as possible so you both can enjoy their week away. 

Summer Camp at High Peak Camp in Estes Park, CO 

High Peak Camp is a salvation army camp located in Estes Park, Colorado. We help kids experience the goodness of God by helping them get out in his beautiful creation. Our team would love to answer your questions and help your kid be part of our resident camp experience. Contact us for more information about High Peak Camp