Packing for camp can feel overwhelming, especially when you have more than one camper! And how often do you pack for one or two full weeks? Not often, but it can be done! Keep reading to see some tips based on what I have learned by sending my two boys to camp for two-week sessions over the last twelve years.
PACKING CLOTHES & SHOES
- I do not send ANYTHING I am going to miss or is expensive to replace–this includes expensive athletic clothes, jerseys, jewelry, hats, and stuffed animals.
- Camp cabins are bustling with energy 24/7 and the trunks and laundry bags between bunkmates are close, so it is not uncommon for things to end up in the wrong place, especially in the younger cabins.
- Campers often fall in love with the Camp Ozark Craft Center and the Woodshop where paint and sharpie markers abound and tend to end up on clothing.
- I make sure to pack at least one pair of closed-toed tennis shoes for Team Competition and for other activities that require closed-toed shoes. But I typically send two pairs! Sometimes shoes get wet, and it’s really great to have a dry pair waiting.
- Water shoes, like Adidas slides, Natives, or Chacos, are perfect for bouncing between land and water activities during the day.
- Shower flip-flops are always a great idea!
- Typically, I like to include three hats to help keep faces shielded from the sun.
- Okay…let’s talk about Camp Ozark Special Event clothes. A lot of counselors and kids love to where them, but remember, costumes are optional! Pack whatever fits your camper’s personality! If they love to go all-in, then send it! If they would rather just have a funny t-shirt or crazy socks, then that’s super-great. And don’t be surprised to see pictures of your camper wearing something completely different from what you packed on any given Special Event Night. I know, it’s crazy, but campers love their independence to make these choices.
- LABEL. LABEL. LABEL. You can use a sharpie marker or iron-on labels, just label it! You will be surprised to see how many campers bring the exact same shirts, shorts, socks and shoes! And when one shoe goes missing, describing it can be tough for campers–so a name inside saves time and worry.
PACKING FOR THE BATH HOUSE
- Less is more. I want to feel assured my camper is keeping squeaky clean while away from me, so I used to overpack the toiletry kit. Well, let’s just say they stick to the basics.
- I have learned that sending 2 toothbrushes is always a great idea!
- I pack the Combo Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash. I know not all campers use conditioner at home, but it sure is useful when campers have been in the lake water.
- My kids like a water-resistant toiletry bag that zips shut, will dry quickly and has a handle like this or this. Oftentimes, the kids like to take it into the shower with them and hang the bag on the faucet.
- Remind your camper that they can purchase replacement toiletries at the Camp Store if anything gets lost or ruined. I know, it’s not as exciting as using their store account on ice cream, but let’s not go without a toothbrush!
PACKING FOR THE CABIN
- Clip Fan OR Box Fan with Bungees and Extension Cord. Just make sure to send one!
- Bedside Storage Box: We have learned that an airtight storage box keeps the humidity out, and sometimes 2 might be necessary to pack it all in. We store things like:
- Small Bible
- Lip balm
- Travel sunscreen
- Travel bug spray
- Small flashlight
- Nail clippers
- Rain poncho
- Glasses/Case and Backup Glasses
- Bedding is easy peasy. A full set of twin sheets for each week attending camp, a blanke, and a pillow! Did you check the backseat of the car before leaving camp? A pillow is the most common thing accidentally left in the car on arrival day.
*QUICK NOTE ABOUT SUNSCREEN: If your camper uses sunscreen spray at home, then do not send lotion–they will not apply it. This really applies to younger campers. Talk at home about the importance of using sunscreen multiple times a day and practice applying it. A sunscreen stick is great for applying to faces and avoiding eyes.
HOW DO I MAKE IT ALL FIT?
- PICKING A TRUNK
- Buying the first trunk is special and exciting, but bigger isn’t always better.
- The size of the trunk is important. Camp recommends trunks no more that 15” tall. It is important so trunks can fit under bunks, creating more floor space in the cabin.
- Kids love personalized trunks, just know that camp cannot guarantee that paint/vinyl applications will not get scratched, so it’s up to you! But, having the camper’s clear and legible name on the trunk is extremely important.
- Wheels on a trunk start off making life very convenient, but almost always break off in their first year of use.
- My two boys have lasted 12 years with $35 plastic trunks from Academy.
- PACKING THE TRUNK
My packing style is called “I gave up.” No matter how organized I was packing the trunk and folding everything and making it all fit like a Tetris game–I still saw my campers wearing whatever with whatever. And when it comes home, I recommend unpacking on your back porch! So, I gave up and got practical. Here is how I pack and see the pic below!
IN THE TRUNK
- Canvas Cubes
- 1 for shirts
- 1 for shorts (folding not necessary!)
- Plastic File Folder Holders
- Swimsuits/Swim shirts
- To Ziplock or Not to Ziplock–that’s a debatable question! I have learned that my kids do not succeed with Ziplock packing outfits for each day.
- The daily camp life of activities determines a camper’s clothing needs, so packing shirts and shorts separately often works best (like mentioned above in cubes). You will enjoy seeing the creative combos your campers decide to pair together each day! And, boy, can they get creative!
- Sometimes kids get splashed during activities and want to put on dry clothes midday. If there is only one outfit packed in a daily Ziplock bag, then they will bust into the next day’s Ziplock. This will upend all the strategic packing and cover the cabin in empty Ziplock bags, often leaving the camper short some clothes at the end of the week.
- I do have a mom friend who has packed her three kids’ camp items in one gallon ziplock’s per day. She swears by it and even her 17-year old asked her to do it again last year. So, to each his own!
- Do know that emergency laundry is available when needed to keep a camper in clean clothes to get them to the end of their session.
IN THE DUFFLE BAG
- Special Event Clothes–this will keep them from mixing in with your everyday clothes
- A second set of sheets
- Toiletry Bag
- Bedside Box
IN THE LAUNDRY BAG
- Items you need first when you arrive
- All Shoes
- Beach Towel
- First set of sheets and blanket to make the bed
- Fan and extension cord
IN THE BACKPACK
- Carry with you while traveling to camp
- Lunch for the drive
- Glasses/Sunglasses and cases
- Phone, Charger, and a hard storage case for phone (Reminder: your camper will be turning in their phone, charger, and any electronics into the store when they arrive at camp.)
- Hammock and Tree Straps, if a rising Junior or Senior in high school attending a two-week session
- Great place to store received mail while at camp
Looking for more tips? Check out this video from Camp Ozark.