Our Favorite Items to Pack For Summer Camp

Summer camp is here! If your kids are going away for the first time, here are some essential items to send along with them. While your child's camp will send a thorough packing list, these eight items are "must-haves" according to the experienced "camp parents" and former counselors on our staff.

Reusable Water Bottle

Send your kids with a reusable water bottle to encourage them to stay hydrated. Some models even come with built-in filters. If the camp allows it, you can also send powdered drink mix packets.


Your camp’s packing list will likely recommend at least a flashlight with back up batteries. You may also want to send a reading light with a clip as well as a small solar powered flashlight.

 Photos of Family and Friends

Kids love to add personal touches to their bunks and photos of family and friends are a great way to stay close while campers are away. Laminate copies of your favorite photos and pack with poster tack to make hanging easier.

Shower Caddy and Flip Flops

A shower caddy will help your camper stay organized when it’s time to hit the showers. Flip flops will also serve double duty as shower shoes and "shore shoes" for walking around between swimming lessons.

An Extra Pair of Shoes

Camp is super fun and super messy – kids may find themselves running through mud, going on rainy hikes, or just wearing down their favorite pair of sneakers. Pack an extra pair of shoes just in case. (And a small bottle of powder to help dry out soggy soles never hurts either).

Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

One of the best parts about camp is getting to play in the dirt – one of the hardest parts about camp is trusting kids to keep clean on their own terms. Items like wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and Tide pens help make that easy.

Insect Bite Remedies

Girl scratching mosquito bite

The nurse or infirmary will have lots of supplies on hand to help with rashes, bug bites, and other typical summer camp injuries, but these little pens also help soothe the immediate “ouch” of simple mosquito bites.

Notes From Friends and Family

Even the most independent and excited campers can get a little homesick while they’re away. Notes from friends and family are great ways to stave off homesickness and remind your camper of all of the people proud of them at home. You can also pack stamps and notecards for kids to send their own mail back. PJ Library's printable "Lunch Box Notes" also work great hidden in a camp bag. 

Bonus: Your favorite PJ Library books!

Do your kids go to sleep-away camp? What are your must pack items? Tell us more on Facebook and Instagram.