All around outside spring is finally happening and the happy buzz of camp is in the air. For first-time camp parents this anticipation can often be accompanied by a certain level of stress over  “camp stuff”. The packing list can seem long and daunting, and what about the things that aren’t on it – do you need more “stuff”?

The team at Camp Specialists has over 100 years of combined camp experience. We’ve all been there as parents with our own kids, and most of us as campers as well. We love sharing our insights and answering your questions, so let’s talk about the packing list and the “stuff”.

The Packing List

Each camp spends time carefully crafting their own packing list, and the lists evolve to reflect camper’s needs. Lists can differ from camp to camp but the consensus here is that they do accurately portray what you need. Laundry typically happens once a week, so having enough shorts on any given week, for example, is a must. The list may seem long when you are used to doing laundry more often, but rest assured campers really do need that many pairs of socks. Speaking of which, we recommend buying all of the same socks which is a win-win for everyone. Simplicity here is the best move. Another tip is to send them with a mesh sock bag for the laundry – this will ensure that socks don’t get lost and pairs stay together.

What Else?

After tackling the official packing list, you may be wondering, what else does my camper “need”? The question of camp “stuff” and the right amount of “stuff” can get pretty personal and does change from camp to camp. In general though, less is enough when it comes to camp. The Camp Specialists team can vouch that you don’t need to send much more than what each camp requires. That said, there are two main areas that usually come up as the de facto add-ons to the list: organizational aids and bunk decor.

Organizing generally means a box for your camper to throw smaller things into – this is “cleaning up” hair ties, playing cards, etc. A lockbox or caboodle can be useful to hold accessories, a clipboard for stationary. A plastic shoe box can double as a “drawer” in a cubby to keep socks, underwear, or accessories, organized and tidy. A shower caddy may or may not appear on your packing list, but is usually a good move to hold toiletries.

For however long your camper is away, their bunk will be their home away from home. The Camp Specialists tip here is to help make their space cozy and personal. Photos go a long way when you are far away. Lights out can be more snug with an extra plush pillow or throw featuring a favorite sports team or characters. Let your camper help with these choices so they can start to envision themselves and their new camp lives.


Looking beyond what ends up in the trunk, our team stresses the importance of labelling. Everything. Sports equipment, fans, hats, extra batteries, etc. Sewing on or ironing in labels can work for most clothes, but we recommend trying a permanent ink stamp as well. Your camper may not want to feel a label in a bathing suit or underwear for instance, and these easy to use stamps will do the trick. They may also be a better bet for those who are less inclined to sew or iron, or for last-minute purchases. We can attest to the ink surviving the camp laundry. We promise. Another tip is using a silver-colored Sharpie to label dark-colored clothing or items. And don’t forget to send them with pre-labeled and stamped envelopes so that they can write home and tell you about all of their adventures.

If you still have questions and want to chat, feel free to reach out to Camp Specialists. We’re here to help!