Packing for Camp

Updated on June 13, 2013
N.R. asks from Chicago, IL
21 answers

My 9 year old daughter is going to her first sleep away camp. We have a packing list for essentials, but any suggestions on fun things to send along, little surprises, what to mail in a care package, etc.? I want this to be a terrific time for her and would enjoy surprising her with some fun, useful things.A little note a day tucked in her bag? Or is that overkill? Anything you did for your kids while they were at camp that were big hits? Would love the input!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

Like others have said, if the stay is only a week or 2, I woul dnot send a care package. Letters may also not get received. My son goes to camp for 7 days. I mailed a card to him the day before he left. He got it the day before he came home. One thing that was great for him was a blank notebook that he could write what they did and he got his new friends numbers and email to keep in touch. If you really want to include something just for her, you could make little presents that she could open each morning or evening.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

My son (7) is going to overnight camp for the first time this summer. I was a camp counselor for many years in high school and college at a girl scout camp. Packing outfits and other stuff in ziplock bags will help. Also sending activities for the kids to do, a familiar stuffed animal, blanket, etc. Consider mailing a care package and/or mail the day before you leave for camp so it arrives the beginning of the week at camp. You can give her counselor a letter before you leave so she will get it the next day or that night. For a girl especially make a shower bucket with flip flops ,also you can use a net wash bag. Make a photo book of family members. You may also want to discuss getting her period if she has not got it already. Other girls will have it it is not unheard of them get it for the first time at camp. Magzines and Madlibs are always a hit along with fun stationary.

More Answers



answers from Miami on

I loved sleep away camp! She is going to have the time of her life and make life long friends. Two years ago, I went to a wedding at our old camp for one of my dearest friends. It was such a blast to be there again!

Things to pack:
- Preaddressed and stamped post cards for her to write to you and other family members
- photo of the family
- pillowcase or something "soft" from home
- disposable cameras (one per week... you could mail these too)

Things to send:
- Check the regulations of the camp b/c most have tight rules about what can be sent... no food, nothing scented, etc.
- Hair ties and clips about half way through. They get lost the first week
- letters and pictures from siblings
- magazines or paperback books for rest time
- Chapstick and sunscreen
- small stuffed animal

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Rule #1 for sleep away camps: Don't send anything that you'd want her to keep or be upset about if she lost.

Rule #2: Write her name on everything with a Sharpie.

Rule #3: Give any canteen money directly to the person who is dealing with the money when you put her on the bus.

Unless the camp is longer than a month, don't bother with care packages. A couple of letters, each dated "open me on ______" is nice though.

A laundry bag for dirty clothes is especially nice....since she'll likely mix up her clean and dirty clothes in her bag.

For a longer camp, a plastic footlocker on wheels is the way to go instead of a suitcase or duffel.

WW: I love your idea of clothes and a note in ziplock bags! I'm going to do that!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


When I packed my boys for sleep away camp (my daughter didn't go), I put each set of clothes in the large 2 gallon ziploc bag - with a short note tucked in each set.

They called me silly but loved it.

I did not send care packages. they were only gone for 6 nights.
I did not send any fun things along as they were busy during the day and when they got back to their cabin at night? They were exhausted.

I hope she has as much fun as my kids have had!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Maybe a note or card tucked into her pj's (something you know she is going to wear). Maybe include a picture in the card of you and her when she was younger or something simpy expressing how proud you are of her and that you can't wait to see her when she returns. Like "Wild Woman", I think a gift might not get the attention as the activities at camp are supposed to be the entertainment. You would hate to hear that a gift you included was lost or misplaced.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check the list of camp rules to make sure what you send is allowed! And what is the preferred form of mailing! What about a pack of day glo necklaces or bracelets to share with campers in her cabin? I packed little notes in her camping stuff with a day of the week so she had one to open even if there was no mail from home that day. I mailed a letter to my daughter two days before she left for camp so that she would have mail the first day. Then we mailed a real letter each day so she would have home. We sent one from the dog, one from the soccer ball, etc. so she would have more mail and find it very funny.
Hope it is a great experience for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you can send her mail, do so. My DH wrote these crazy adventure stories in installments and mailed them one day at a time. SS loved them. You can send her stickers or small favorite food items.

You can let her choose fun labels for her gear, too. Or use sharpie.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Notes tucked in her bag are great, and you can include kid-friendly jokes. I put jokes into my daughter's lunch bag at random times. Your child can share the jokes with her friends and that's fun.

Whatever you send from the regular list or in a package, please do not send chocolate, which will melt and be gross, and do not let her take any shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hair gels etc. that are scented!! Bees and bugs like scents and if your child uses any products with scent they will find her. I do camping with Girl Scouts and have been appalled to find that mostly it's adults who come to camp having used scented shampoo, smelly hair products and even makeup with scent in it --and they wonder why bees and wasps seem attracted to them!



answers from Denver on

Our kid's camp only allows daily emails, but the kids aren't allowed to respond. The emails are delivered every day during rest time. She loves it! I never did anything too special; maybe I should have! She has so much fun while there, that I truly don't think she thinks about us one bit! You daughter will have a great time; lifetime of memories!



answers from Chicago on

My son went to camp every summer. I disagree with the poster who said don't send a care package. Send one she will love it. Check with the camp you may be able to leave it there when you drop her off. My son went to camp Christopher in Ohio every summer. They had a place you could leave care packages and cards /letters with the day written on them. Ex. Write Monday on a card Tuesday on a package and Thursday on a note. They also had a link you could do online they would print out the note and give your child.

What to put in the care package?
A pack of gum
A card game
A frizbe
A pair of cheap goggles
A new toothbrush
One of this wash clothes they have vacuum packed at the dollar store
A book
Penn and paper

What not to send
Nuts of any kind
And candy with chocolate as it melts



answers from Wichita Falls on

Cheap Camera (if allowed)
More socks than recommended
Journal and/or sketch book
Self addressed/stamped postcard 1-2 per week
A picture of the family
Net laundry bag (things get wet)
Spare pair of cheap sneakers (knock off keds)



answers from Chicago on

Oh, I hope you do it! It's not overkill! I did this for my mom when I went away to college -- notes in cereal boxes, in her powder, in the St. Patrick's day decorations. We both remembered and cherished them decades later. After she passed away, I found many of the notes among her personal paperwork.

I love the idea of hiding little do-dads that she'll find during the trip. Maybe a little tube of flavored lip gloss, a pack of bubble gum, a little bracelet or fun ring, etc.

I hope she has a great time and you both get alot out of the experience.


answers from Phoenix on

I went to summer camp every single year from the youngest age possible until I graduated from HS. Everyone had great ideas for you. Of course, back in the old days when I went, we didn't get letters or care packages. Our parents sent us off without a further thought and we didn't think about them either to be honest! Too much fun and stuff going on! But I did want to mention that it might be a good idea to pack a tube of Aloe Gel to help soothe those sunburns. Good luck!


answers from Washington DC on

When my kids were little, I packed each days clothes in a set in a ziplock bag. That way when the wet towel was tossed on the trunk, the clothes stayed dry. :) I wrote my daily note right on the ziplock bags. What can I say? I couldn't be bothered to go get paper.
Send extra socks, underwear, towels, and swimsuit.
As for goodies: a deck of cards, some of those brain teaser puzzles, and even a coloring book and crayons are nice distractions.



answers from Chicago on

Flavored dropins for their water, glo sticks ( a few to share with friends.)A Note is good as well but keep it light try to avoid things like "I miss you" as that could bring on homesickness. I would also send some stationary, stamps, and a book to read.



answers from Washington DC on

definitely leave a note - if not a couple. maybe a sleeve of girl scout cookies, to help break the ice when meeting new friends?



answers from Honolulu on

How long is the camp? How many days?
I would not mail a care package.
And, the camps have rules and memos about what the kids can/cannot or what they are allowed/not allowed to bring.
My daughter went to one once.
And the camp/organization, had very strict rules about what is allowed or not per what the child brings.
And if the camp is short and there is quick turnaround, then mailing something to her, may not be received etc. And when they are done, then other groups come in, too.

If anything, call the camp and ask, if things can be mailed to them. And what is/is not allowed.
Labeling her things, EVERYTHING, is very important.
Send nothing valuable.



answers from Los Angeles on

-notes in her suitcase
-a cute card hidden in her folded clothes (near top so she'll find it)
-a picture of the family if you don't think she'll get homesick from it
-small flashlight for sure!
-her favorite little snacks
-a new cute shirt to wear
-little presents wrapped in her suitcase (think small. nothing extravagant)
-a small cute pad of paper w/cute girly pen to jot down fun things that
happened that day


answers from Spokane on

This will be the 4th year my son is going to camp ~ I pack everything on their list and then:
additional socks
extra swimsuit (they tend to not hang them up to dry...)
little hand-written notes in random places (one in his devotional bible, one in his toothbrush case, pocket of his bag, inside a shoe, pockets of shorts and his tackle box).
disposable camera
hand sanitizer

I do not send care packages as they are not allowed to take any candy, gum or snacks and he is only there for a week.

I do mail a couple cards/letters and the first year he thought it was pretty cool to get mail but last year asked me to not send them anymore.



answers from New York on

If allowed-
cheap whistles, the sort that you get in a goodie bag (12 pack) so everyone can join in the mayhem.
temporary tattoos.
burn cream.
anti-itch cream.
extra sweats/ hat / scarf/ gloves (i once went to camp for 2 weeks in august where we had little but cold rain).

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions