The emotional preparation of going to overnight camp for the first time was pretty easy for my son. “No big deal, Mom — it’s going to be great.” The emotional prep for me? A bit harder.
I was so incredibly proud of him and thrilled that he was going to have this opportunity for extraordinary personal growth and memories for a lifetime (yeah, yeah, yeah…I knew I WANTED to be thinking these things). BUT after dropping him off I seriously (yes…totally seriously) considered driving right back with my binoculars and hiding out in the woods on a daily basis just to “make sure” he was doing OK. As we know, mama bear instincts run strong.
I still haven’t found a way to really mentally prepare for that moment I have to say goodbye (now for two kiddos going to camp), so I choose instead to throw myself into the more tangible physical preparation of the “stuff.” Hours of researching flashlights and quick-drying towels and pushing my feelings down, down, down. Healthy coping, right?
Hey, campers — this post was originally published in 2019 and has just been updated with shoppable links for 2023.
The Ultimate Sleepaway Camp Packing List: Essential Gear, Clothes & More
The “stuff” they need the first time they go to summer camp, though, IS completely overwhelming, so you do kind of need to throw yourself into the preparation. We’ve packed for two different camps that both focus on the value of simplicity, but even those camps have two-page packing lists!
If you’ve got a good store for used camping gear near you, use that, or if you can borrow or use hand-me-downs, even better. But if you need to buy some new stuff, or you just want to make a few clicks and be done with it all, I’m hoping some of my research from previous years will help.
-click on the jump links below to directly shop the categories-
1. General Camp Supplies
2. Overnight Wilderness Equipment
3. Summer Camp Bedding
4. Summer Camp Basics
5. Summer Camp Tops & Bottoms
6. Summer Camp Swim Gear
7. Summer Camp Toiletries
8. Quiet-Time Activities
1. Shop General Summer Camp Supplies
2. Shop Wilderness & Outdoor Gear
3. Shop Summer Camp Bedding
4. Shop Summer Camp Essentials
6. Shop Summer Camp Swim Gear
7. Shop Summer Camp Toiletries
8. Shop Quiet-Time Activities (To Be Packed Or Sent In Care Packages)
I’ve been totally fine emotionally as I have been putting this packing list together, but I know that in a few weeks, things will look a bit different with my ugly-crying situation. I’ll add to this list as I find new things that we love, and as always, please share with me your own favorite finds. Any other suggestions on little fun things to send in care packages?
**The amazing photo at the top of this post was taken by the lovely Shana at Twin Creeks Camp when she was living the camp life WITH her kiddos.**
If you want to share on Pinterest (or anywhere, really)…the complete summer camp packing list is all together below!