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This Summer Camp Packing Checklist Will Make Loading Up so Much Easier

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

A comprehensive summer camp checklist ensures no toothbrush is left behind

If you're all about making lists, then you already know how magical they can be — but if making lists isn't your thing, you need to hop on board, ASAP. These things are serious game-changers, especially when it comes time to pack your kids up for summer camp.

When you're preparing to ship off your children for extended periods of time, organization is essential. Leaving a woobie, a toothbrush or some SPF behind can mean the difference between a horrible experience and a summer they'll cherish forever.

Things to remember while packing for camp

Before you get started, be sure to peruse any packing lists that might have already been supplied by your child's camp. There may be things like bedding and towels that you don't want to overlook.

More: The Top 20 Summer Camps in the U.S. All Offer a Little Something Different

Wash all new clothing before packing, and remember to mark everything your child will be taking — from socks to soap cases — with his or her name or initials.

Now, armed with an empty truck and your camping checklist, calculate how much clothing your child will need. The Summer Camp Handbook recommends you pack your kid enough clothes to last one-and-a-half times the number of days they'll be at camp for camps that run a week or less (they probably don't provide laundry service), or the number of days between laundry service for camps longer than one week.

More: Sorry Mom, but the Spray Sunscreen Really Is As Bad As They Say

Camp packing list

Here are the things you and your child will need to pack for a typical summer camp:

A comprehensive summer camp checklist ensures no toothbrush is left behind
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows;Image via Getty Images
  • Bandana/scarf
  • Hat
  • Glasses/contacts and cleaning solution
  • Prescription medication
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles for swimming
  • Dress clothes and coordinating belts and shoes
  • Light jacket
  • Jeans
  • Raingear or umbrella
  • Shorts
  • Sweatshirt
  • Swimsuit
  • Swim shirt with UV protection
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Underwear
  • Sweat pants or warm-up pants
  • Pajamas
  • Cotton bathrobe
  • Bras
  • Athletic support (jock strap)
  • Boots
  • Cleats
  • Flip flops
  • Shoes plus a spare pair
  • Socks
  • Bedding — check with your camp checklist for what, if any, to bring for bedding
  • Hand towels
  • Beach towels — can be used for bath or swimming
  • Shower caddy
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Bug repellant
  • Lip balm
  • Nail clippers
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Soap in carrier
  • Sunblock
  • Tissues
  • Toothbrush, toothbrush container, and toothpaste
  • Camera
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Laundry bag
  • Reusable water bottle or canteen
  • Writing paper, pre-addressed envelopes, stamps and/or calling card
  • Spending money (but check with camp for policies)
  • Comforts of home, like a family photo or a stuffed animal (just be sure it's replaceable!)
  • Entertainment, like books, hackey sacks, and deck of cards
  • Small backpack or tote for day-trips

According to The Summer Camp Handbook author and psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber, the most important thing to remember about packing for camp should be to give yourself plenty of time to help your child pack. This can help ease nerves about heading off away from home.

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Also, remember to make it a team effort.

"When you pack together and take your time, your excitement about summer camp can rub off on your child while also ensuring that nothing is forgotten when it comes to checking off your summer camp packing list," says Dr. Thurber.

That way, you can relax knowing they have everything they need while away and can focus on having fun!

Originally published May 2011. Updated May 2017.

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