Armed with your camp handbook and your parents’ help, you may think you know exactly what to pack for your weeks away at summer camp. But once you get there, there’s always something you wish you brought that just wasn’t on any list. The essentials listed here are what summer camp counselors say are the most common items campers forget. Read on so you don’t leave them behind!
1. Plenty of Undies
Believe it or not, the number one item most campers don’t think to bring is enough underwear. Psychiatrist and experienced summer camp counselor Dr. Carole Lieberman suggests packing more than you think you’ll need: “Camp laundry is typically once a week, and campers do not want to have to spend their time washing out undies in between. You need to pack more than one pair a day because they often get wet or dirty,” she advises.
The Summer Camp Handbook suggests packing one-and-a-half times the number of days you’ll be at camp, since you might find yourself swimming in your clothes instead of taking time out to change into your swimsuit. For instance, if you’ll be at camp for 10 days, be sure to bring 15 pairs.
2. Bathroom Accessories and Extras
Though not absolutely essential, you may find yourself regretting not having these handy items once you’re at camp. Luckily, many of these often-forgotten items are small enough to tuck into the pockets of your shorts or suitcase before you head out the door: A small shower caddy will make it much easier to bring your toiletries to and from the showers and keep them together so they don’t get misplaced.
Scrunchies, hairbands, bandanas, or any kind of accessory to keep your hair out of your face while you’re having fun with camp activities. These are easy to misplace, so bring several. Toiletries you use more than once a week. Most campers remember deodorant, but what about lip balm, mouthwash, or razors and shaving cream? Keep track of what you use the week before heading out to camp so you’ll be sure to pack what you need.
3. A Connection To Home
Campers should leave behind their smartphones so not distract from the camp experience. But high-tech gadgets aren’t the only way to stay connected to home.
In the age of instant communication via text or email, we tend to forget other ways of staying connected to loved ones. Stationery is a camp essential that’s often left off the list: “Postcards, pre-stamped addressed envelopes, and pens are important to encourage campers to write home,” says Dr. Lieberman. Having the materials to write home can help combat any homesickness, while not distracting from camp activities.
Dr. Lieberman also recommends bringing a favorite stuffed animal to keep on your bed as a reminder and connection to home. After a long day of camp activities, coming back to a familiar “face” will help you feel more comfortable in your cabin.
4. A Positive Attitude
Luckily, the most important thing to bring to summer camp won’t take up any room in your suitcase. According to Dr. Lieberman, the key to having a great summer camp experience is to come prepared with “a friendly attitude and adventurous spirit.”
Your expectations of summer camp will shape your experience. Be prepared to participate in activities, make new friends, and have lots fun, and you’ll have a great summer camp experience!
Maffei, M. (2011, May 4). Summer camp packing checklist. SheKnows Parenting. Retrieved from She Knows
Malinowski, J., & Thurber, C. (n.d.). Summer Camp Handbook. 'Summer Camp Handbook'. Retrieved from Summer Camp Handbook