Packing for Sleep Away Camp

Updated on June 21, 2011
R.B. asks from Northridge, CA
6 answers

What are your favorite tricks and tips for packing for your child to go to sleep away camp?

My Mom used to write and mail me a letter before I even left for camp so when I arrived I got mail on the first day that I was there, made the other campers kind of jealous, but made me feel really special.

I pack all socks and underwear in separate ziplock bags to help keep track of them, and anything that could possibly spill also gets its own ziplock. Everything, I mean everything, is labeled. I put stationary inside addressed and stamped envelopes to us at home and to each set of grandparents and tell the kids that each should write a handwritten note so that they can get mail back. If it is new it doesn't go to camp. If I hope to get it back I won't, if I hope it gets lost, it won't.

Sleep-Away Camp was such a great gift my parents gave to me and I am grateful for the chance to give it to my children.

Any tips you have to share, I would appreciate, as I sit here up to my eyeballs in iron-on labels.


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answers from Washington DC on

I got a plastic tote and put their toiletries in it. They just pick it up and head to the bath house - everything is in one place -- toothbrush, soap, shampoo, etc. I also send flip flops for them to wear to the shower... they can shower in them and not step on the shower/bath house floor.

I got monogrammed towels for them. It's so much easier to keep track of those that way. Lands' End has them and they are terrific!

Rain gear is essential. I send a rain coat, umbrella, and Teva sandals -- they usually allow Tevas because they have a back strap. If your camp doesn't allow Tevas, send water shoes. Those will work just as well.

Put in an extra trash bag for dirty laundry.
When we get home from camp, I don't bring the trunk past the laundry room. Everything gets washed immediately - and believe me -- it needs to be washed ASAP! Oh the stench!!
I send the yuckiest socks and underwear. If the socks and undies are totally filthy when I pull them out of the trunk, they get tossed immediately. I still think the kids must walk around camp in their socks!

Send a book to read - they do have down time. There was one camp, (I think it was a music camp at a local college) my daughter called me on the second day and asked me to bring more books. That was an excellent camp, but after the kids spend all morning in rehearsal, they just wanted to rest and read during their afternoon free time... she read! I brought a stack up and she and her friends passed them around like trading cards!

Don't forget the sunscreen and the bug spray!!


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answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter loved it when I packed little notes (I used index cards) in her stuff to find as she unpacked her suitcase/sleeping bag.

I also pack special soaps/bath stuff for camp that I wouldn't normally buy for us at home. It makes being away from home kinda special - like being at a hotel.

Always pack a disposable camera (my kid is only gone for a week) for pictures. Write the kids' name somewhere with a sharpie so everyone knows who it belongs to.

In addition to stationary... a new book, a notebook and a set of colored pencils do doodling or playing pencil and paper games with cabin mates.

Instead of iron on labels if you don't need to take the label off later (although I don't know how you would if you iron it on anyways) why not buy a paint pen for the fabric stuff and just write your last name?? I can usually find them or fabric markers at walmart and michaels or joanns. Just a thought, but that's easier then having to drag the iron out.

:) Sleep away camp is a must do for any kid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Pack an outfit per day in a ziplock bag - undies, socks, shirt and shorts. And extra baggie with the extra sock and undies. most important, DO NOT PACK FOR YOUR CHILD. Have you child do his/her own packing, while you supervise. If you pack up their camp trunk, they will have no idea what's in it or where to find it. They'll wear the same swimsuit all week or not wear a hat. Give them this responsibility.

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answers from Eugene on

Wow I am impressed by the wonderful organized job you have done.
An emergency blanket that is silver on one side and a color on the other would be really great for her day pack.
My mother would send me care packages of food I would want from home. Camp food was always so difficult for me to eat. I would lose weight. So the beef salami, the rye bread, the dried fruit were really super to get every week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

permanent marker for labeling. Works very well, & goes a lot quicker!

all clothes are rolled & stored in ziploc bags (1 outfit/bag). + one bag of extra socks & undies. & Don't forget the pjs!

extra shoes, in a plastic bag. Oh, the smell... Merrells work great for campers/hikers! Our son's pair has lasted for over 250 miles of hiking!

Personal toiletries in a totable, waterproof bag....+ bug spray, Benadryl stick, sunscreen, AND Ocean Potion - because no matter what you say, they'll still get sunburned! All well-labeled.

A small 1st aid kit + a small emerg kit (scissor, tweezer, etc)....if allowed. & a mini flashlight + extra batteries. For my Scout, this is in addition to the flashlight & headgear he keeps in his pack....that little one just comes in handy!

Journal or writing pad, pen/pencil. Scouts are required to journal their hikes.

Beef jerky, dried fruit, granola....for those late night munchies!

Rain gear, poncho, etc. All well-labeled.

Our system is for me to print out the recommended packing list & make my additions. While I'm doing this, my son is 100% fully-responsible for all gathering & packing. He does this by lining up the supplies as he would use them, & then we go thru the checklist. Allowing him the freedom to be responsible is all a part of the process! Most of the time, he even does the labeling...& he prefers it that way. It's all about ownership & self-reliance... which is what we want Camp to teach them!

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answers from Dover on

This is the first year either of my kids are going to sleep away camp & they'll both be going for the same week, oh boy!! I don't have any advice as I've never done this before, but as I spent 1 week at Girl Scout Camp when I was my daughter's age (10), I think I'm more excited than the kids are. Thanks to all the Mama's for the great tips!!

1 mom found this helpful
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