Pro Tips Summer Camp Checklist

Make sure your child has what they need to pack for a fun-filled summer camp trip.

A happy camper is a well-prepared camper. So, before you send your child or teen off to summer camp this season, be sure that they have the items they need. With the right gear, they can be ready for the adventures that come their way.


Just like your kids, every camp is unique. Before you begin packing, reach out to the camp itself to see what their requirements are for gear and apparel. But whether the camp they’re going to is a week in the wilderness or a weekend at your local community center, there are some universal summer camp essentials.

For starters, if your child uses any medications or has allergies, alert the camp staff in advance and explain your child’s needs. Meanwhile, sunscreen is a must for everyone on those summer days spent outdoors. Consider bringing a face stick, a spray and a lip balm with SPF.

Sunburn isn’t the only thing your child may want to avoid. Help them ward off any flying critters with insect repellent. In the event they do encounter any bites or scrapes, also include a small first-aid kit with bandages and ointments.

Packing reusable water bottles or bladders can keep the water flowing, while a snack break can help provide a much needed boost. Find out your camp’s rules on lunches to learn what kind of lunch bag or snacks are needed or allowed.

All of these essential items can be stored in a backpack or drawstring bag. Be sure to include a dry bag for any items that may get wet or dirty throughout the day.


To perform at their summer camp best, your child should be dressed for success. But there is an art to packing clothes. You want to be prepared, but you also don’t want to risk over-packing and saddling your child with a pack that’s too heavy. Ultimately, what apparel (and how much of it) is needed depends on the duration and type of camp.

For day camps, include a spare outfit in case your kids get wet or muddy, as well as a light jacket for evenings when the temperatures drop. If swimming is on the agenda, don’t forget a bathing suit, a beach towel and any flotation devices they might need.

Find out the agenda of sleepaway camps in advance so that you can pack for various activities. Prepare for unpredictable weather and chillier nights by including a fleece hat to cover their ears. You can also help prevent rain from putting a damper on the fun with gear like rain jackets and rain boots. Flip-flops can come in handy for both showers and quick trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

For warmer days, accessories such as hats, sunglasses and bandanas can help your child beat the heat. For children with longer hair, include extra hair ties.

If your child is younger, it may also be helpful to plan outfits in advance by separating them in individual plastic gallon bags or packing cubes inside of their pack. Be sure to write your child’s name on all of their gear for easy return in case they’re misplaced.


Overnight camps don’t have to be overwhelming. Packing overnight necessities can help prevent you and your child from losing sleep over sleepaway camps.

Check with your camp to know what the sleeping arrangements are. Depending on the camp, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad or bed sheets may be needed. For added comfort, pack blankets and camp pillows as well.

Be sure to include hygiene items like a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Try to avoid heavily scented products because they could attract bugs or animals to the campsite. And don’t forget a spare pair of pajamas!


Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. Send your child to camp with a piece of home by packing their favorite stuffed animals or photos of friends, family or pets.

They may also want to capture some new memories with the help of a camera or a journal. For longer camps, include stamps and stationery so they can send letters home.

Card games and books can provide some cabin entertainment, while a flashlight can come in handy navigating a dark cabin or if a child is afraid of the dark. It may also be helpful to pack a little cash and some change for emergencies or trips to the canteen.

Packing isn’t the only way to prepare. Have conversations with your child and camp leaders prior to sendoff. If it’s an overnight camp, help your child understand what it means to be away from home and make sure they are ready for it.

Avoid procrastination to help you avoid stress, and include your child in the packing process so that they’ll know where everything is and what each item is for.

Well-packed bags can help your child be ahead of the pack. So be sure they have all the equipment they need to enjoy camp with the full summer camp checklist below.

*Click to enlarge and print.

Summer Camp Checklist