Blue text on top of summer camp graphic
Blue text on top of summer camp graphic
Community, Inside scoop, Learning 3 minute read

How to Pack for Summer Camp

By American Girl May. 1, 2018

It’s time for summer camp! Before your daughter heads off for the time of her life, there’s a hurdle—packing her camp gear. Whether she’s a seasoned camper or brand new to resident camp, packing can be a challenge. How can you make sure she has what she needs for a week of independence? From what to pack to how to do it, we’ll help you get it together.

Most overnight camps will give parents a detailed list, like this one from Space Camp, of what to pack (and what to leave at home). This way, she’ll have exactly what she needs for a great camp experience.

Want to get her jacket back when camp is over? How about the flashlight? Make sure your daughter’s first and last name is on all of her things. This will help her pick out which stuff is hers when it’s time to pack up.

This one seems obvious—don’t pack her brand-new glitter sandals for a horseback riding camp. They’ll be ruined on the first day! Instead, send along sturdy walking shoes that have already been broken in.

Many camps do not provide bedding, so make sure your camper is covered. Send bedsheets and a blanket or a sleeping bag, plus a pillow to help her get a good night’s sleep.

If your daughter needs to take prescription medications, send them in their original containers. You may need to give the prescriptions to the camp director for safekeeping, so it’s helpful to put them all together in a zippered bag. Check with your camp about over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements, as they may not be allowed.

Pack clothes that are right for the weather. Temperatures sometimes dip at night, so a jacket or sweatshirt is a good idea. Make sure she has shorts, pants, tees, long-sleeved tops, and something to sleep in. Don’t forget socks and underwear! You’ll need to pack enough clothing for each day, as most camps do not offer laundry services.

Your girl will need toiletries for a sleepaway camp. Pack her a bar of soap, small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a hairbrush. She may also need lip balm, sunscreen, and bug spray if the camp is outdoors.

Thinking of sending her with a phone to call home? It may not be allowed. Check your camp’s rules before you pack any electronics. Most allow cameras for personal photography.

Roll her clothing up (instead of folding it) to save space. She might not do this on the way back, though, so be sure to leave a little room in the suitcase. Pack anything liquid in a sealed plastic bag—that way, if there’s a spill, her clothes won’t get drenched.

Never pack things “just in case …” chances are, she won’t use that winter coat in the middle of July. Follow the advice on your camp’s packing list and pay special attention to what they ask you not to pack. Most do not allow snacks to avoid critters in the campsites.

Send along some stationery and postage stamps so your girl can write you a letter about her adventures. Although some camps allow access to e-mail, many do not (and it’s nice to get something in the mail besides a bill!)

Does your daughter wear prescription glasses? Add a sport strap to make sure they don’t fall off while she’s canoeing on a lake, never to be seen again (true story).

Find even more great information about summer camp on Explore.

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