Posted by Rachel Hovermale ● Mon, May 23, 2022 @ 07:05 AM
Packing Tips for a Fantastic Week of Camp!
Don't worry - we have handy packing lists available on our website. Those are designed by our staff to help you bring all the pieces your camper needs for their week of camp. Keep in mind that some programs have additional pieces and info, so if you ever have any questions feel free to reach out!
Summer Camp is here! Time to start packing. While I had my fair share of years where I packed the night before by throwing random things in a tub; taking some time to plan makes all the difference.
Having comfy clothing is important to summer camp life. Remember campers are active during the day so have clothing that moves with them is important. Campers may change a few times a day, so adding in a few extra items in case is always a plus. It's also a good idea to toss in a laundry bag to store clothes after they are worn to prevent the clean clothes from getting dirty.
We know the struggle of getting campers to shower at camp; and no, the Pool does not count as a shower. Making it easy for your camper to grab what they need to take to the washhouse is a great way to make them more comfortable. I recommend a small basket or bag that can hang right in the shower with them. Then when they get back, it can just go under their bed until they need it again. That way all their items stay together and it's just grab and go. Getting travel or small bottles of items are easier and create less waste.
Bedding & Towels
Bedding is a often overlooked camp essential. Our mattresses have plastic covers on them, so bringing a fitted sheet is important to sleeping comfortably (even if your camper is using a sleeping bag). Having both a thin sheet and blanket is good to have in case it gets cold or hot in the evening. Also never forget a good pillow! And having mismatched items is not a camp fashion faux pas, so don't worry about having items from the same set.
Your camper should bring a few towels with them. I would usually had 3-4. Campers may get wet multiple times a day (showering, pool, waterfront) so making sure one is dry is important. I would even bring an extra small towel to use as a rug by my bed to wipe my feet and reduce some of the sand that ended up there.
Also, towels tend to be forgotten the most, so making sure they are labeled with names makes it easier for us to return them.
Foot care and protection!
Your child will need these three types of shoes:
Closed-Toed Shoes: For some activities (challenge course, camp games, etc), campers will need sturdy shoes that protect the whole foot. An old pair of sneakers is the best bet. They should plan to wear these the most throughout the camp. We do quite a bit of walking. (Croc-style shoes don’t count, because they aren’t fully enclosed and don’t protect the heel.)
Water Shoes: Your camper will have lots of fun in the river, but to protect her or his feet in the river and on the bank please send along sturdy water shoes that will stay on. Flip flops aren’t a good bet because they WILL come off and float away!
Shower Shoes: Here’s where those Crocs or flip-flops come in! Just like at the YMCA or a college dorm, it is recommended that campers wear shoes in our washhouse showers.
Good socks are often overlooked. Campers should have at least 1-2 pairs a day. Moisture wicking socks will prevent sores and smelly feet at the end of the day. Regular cotton socks are good, but may need to be changed more regularly. Campers should not wear sneakers without socks.
Good shoes are important! Cuts and sprains because of wearing the wrong shoes are some of the most common camp injuries.
Regardless of the program your camper signs up for, an appropriate bathing suit will be key for spending time at the pool or in the river.
Boys should bring swim trunks or board shorts and girls should bring a suit designed for being worn while active. For both boys and girls, having a rash guard or t-shirt to wear over top will protect from sun exposure and be more comfortable for activities where your camper may wear a PDF (Personal Floatation Device).
While other styles of swimsuits may be a great option for the beach, we've found sturdier styles with more coverage to be most appropriate for the level of activity involved in our water programs. For both boys and girls, a suit with more coverage will simply be more comfortable, and will help to avoid the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction.
If your camper is doing an aquatics intensive program (Splashdown, Paddle Palooza, Wake Runners) it may be a good idea to send a few bathing suits. Speaking from experience, putting on an already wet bathing suit is not fun.
We all know the health risks associated with unprotected sun exposure, so sunscreen and other forms of protection are critically important items to send to camp with your child. I was the camper that always forgot, and I lost many a night of sleep over having sunburn on my shoulders.
You should pack waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, and you may want to consider sending a hat.
Cabin Creature Comforts
Having a flashlight (with extra batteries) is helpful for campers. They may need it for Counselor Hunt, or walking to the washhouse at night. And we can't forget the all important 'Flashlight Time' in the evening after lights-out. Check the flashlight before coming to camp to make sure it is working.
During downtime, your camper may want to send you a postcard or letter about what they have been doing. It is sometime helpful for campers who may be feeling a little homesick, or who are so excited about camp they can't wait to tell you. It is a good idea to already have the envelopes addressed and stamped for them to send, then all they need to do is write their note and seal it up. While we try to mail letters as soon as we get them, they may arrive after your camper is back from camp.
During the hectic day, we always try to have some quiet downtime for campers. We usually encourage them to rest or do something on their own in their bunk. Sending a puzzle book, or book to read, or a journal to write down what they have been doing are great options. I used to bring one of my favorite books Bailey Goes Camping, I still read it as a bedtime for my campers. Sometimes bringing cards or simple games are good, but remember that things at camp may not always come back in the same way. I tried to bring a few LEGO bricks one summer, they did not make it home. Please do not send any electronic items.
Also sending a small bookbag to carry with them during the day to help hold towels and extra items is good. We do provide a small drawstring bag, but if you want to bring one from home you can.
Also, please be sure to send a sturdy water bottle labeled with your campers name. Hydration is important at camp, so having a good water bottle is key!
So you have all your items ready to go for camp! Now, what to put it in? There are actually a few options for you. You can use a fabric duffel bag, a suitcase (a reminder that most of our cabins requiring some walking to get to them usually over grassy terrain or up stairs, so rolling suitcases will be difficult to maneuver around.)
I usually packed my items in a 20 gallon plastic tub with a lid. It was a much cheaper option then a suitcase or duffel, and could survive being dragged around the cabin. It also gave me a place to leave my glasses and flashlight at night because I could store it next to my bed as a side table. Just make sure you have a laundry bag to put dirty clothes in, the tub does not allow for air flow when the lid is on and leaving wet, sandy clothes inside will make for a smelly surprise when you go to wash them at home.
Whatever you choose, remember that at camp we do not have dressers or places to unpack clothing, so something that your camper can easily access and grab clothing and items will help keep the cabins clean. Also, labeling things is important to make sure you take back only your campers items at the end of the week.
Meds & Health Form
Good news - you can now fill out your camper's health form at the same time as their registration form, or any time prior to their week of camp. A doctor's signature is ONLY required IF your camper will be taking medication while at camp.
Please be sure to complete the form before your camper's arrival, including the digital signature for both parent/guardian and camper. That’s all important information in case your child needs any type of medical care.
As for meds, all medications (including over the counter meds and vitamins) need to be brought in their original packaging and checked in with the nurse. We have a health center stocked with normal over-the-counter household meds like Tylenol, ibuprofen, Benadryl, and more, so you don't need to pack those with your camper (to avoid the meds check-in line at camper drop off!).
Our on-camp nurses are available 24 hours a day, and meds will be distributed at meals and bedtime (as determined when you check in the with the nurse). If your camper requires any “as needed” meds, she or he can take buddies and go to the nurse at any time.
If your camper has an inhaler or Epi-pen, the counselor will hang onto it and be sure that it is available at all times.
Camp is about the friends you have or make along the way. Sometimes you come to camp alone and meet new, awesome people (me and my best friend Brian are still friends after almost 18 years!) or your camper wants to bring a friend to camp to experience the magic with them.
Returning campers can even get a discount for inviting new campers - for more details see our Thrifty Fifty offer.
Sometimes a stuffed animal friend can be a comfort to campers who might be nervous or homesick. I spent many nights curled up with my white reindeer Ferdinand. If you campers wants a new furry friend, we will have a number of items available in the Trading Post if you camper wants to pick one out.
P.S- Did you know that Pecometh now has an online store? From shirts, to stickers, to socks, we have all the Pecometh apparel you and your camper needs, and more is coming! They also have a section to help buy regular camp essentials, all tested by campers and parents.
Our former Camp Programs Coordinator, Megan Sweeney also wrote a packing list blog. Check it out for some other ideas!
For more tips and ideas, take a look at our Camp Packing List Pinterest Board!
And don't forget to register for Camp!