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Top to bottom packing

As the remaining days of the school year pass by, children will start daydreaming about summer. Those attending camp may be wondering what they will do and who they will meet.

For parents, the approach of summer camp also brings questions regarding what their child should pack—what is too much, what is too little. Parents can contact their camp for specific packing lists and guidelines.

In addition, the American Camp Association suggests the following guidelines for parents to keep in mind when packing for camp.


Parents should encourage packing items to protect a camper from the sun. Remember to pack scarves, bandanas, baseball caps or a sun hat, as well as needed eyeglasses, sunglasses and swimming goggles.


Clothing is a necessary component of camp, just don’t expect any to return home clean! Include T-shirts, a swim suit and shorts for hot days, a jacket, sweatshirt and jeans for cool days, and a raincoat or poncho for rainy days. Also, long pants will protect a camper from poison ivy, bugs and thorns during hikes. Check with the camp to see if dress clothes are required for a special occasion.


Appropriate footwear is one of the most important items to pack for camp, especially when kids will be hiking, spelunking, running and heading to the beach. Consider packing boots, tennis shoes, sandals, lots of socks and even dress shoes, if the camp requires them. Remember that shoes should be broken in prior to the start of camp.

Bed and bath

For children attending a resident camp, remember to pack the home basics. Don’t forget towels, a blanket, pillow, pillow cases, sheets, sleeping bag, laundry bag and mattress pad. Bathroom kits are essential. Be sure to pack a brush and comb, shampoo, soap and soap container, toothbrush and holder, toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent, feminine products, sun block, shaving gear and lip balm with sun block in it.

Additional items

Pack some additional items including books and magazines, flashlights and batteries, Frisbees or other toys, a water bottle and writing materials. When considering electronics, musical instruments and other special gear, check with the camp about policies. 

ACA recommends that families prepare for camp together. Decisions about camp, including what to pack, should be made together as a family. When children participate in the decision-making process, their likelihood of enjoying a positive experience is improved.

For expert advice on what to pack, or preparing for camp, visit ACA’s parent resource site at www.CampParents.org.

For more camp-related articles, as well as an extensive listing of a variety of Wisconsin camps, visit our Online CampFair!

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 edition of Metroparent Magazine.

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