What to Bring for a Sleepaway Camping Trip

By: Mollie Shauger | Friday, May 1, 2020 | Summer Camp

kids hiking on a trail in the forest

What to Bring for a Sleepaway Camping Trip in New Jersey

Get Packing Tips from Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges

From the chance to forge lasting memories and friendships to the development of lifelong leadership skills, summer camps for kids offer many exciting, fun-filled possibilities. Whether it’s your child’s first sleepaway camping trip or their fourth, but you’ve forgotten what to pack, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is here to help. We usually recommend making a list of everything to bring for a sleepaway camping trip to ensure nothing essential is forgotten by our New Jersey-area campers. Read on for useful packing tips from our friendly summer camp counselors!

Make Sure Your Camper Brings Enough Underwear & Toiletries

You would be surprised by how many campers don’t remember to bring enough socks, underwear, and toiletries to last the duration of their camping trip. Some summer camps for kids have on-site laundry facilities for campers to do their laundry. Accidents happen, especially to younger campers. To be on the safe side, you should plan on packing at least one pair of underwear and one pair of socks for each day spent at camp. Be sure to have your child pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, body wash or soap, shampoo and conditioner, a comb or hairbrush, nail clippers, sunscreen, bug spray, and any other personal toiletry items they may need. We suggest packing toiletries in freezer bags to avoid unpleasant spills inside your child’s suitcase. A shower caddy can help your child stay organized when going back and forth from the shower area. We also recommend labeling everything clearly with your child’s name and including trash bags or a laundry bag to keep dirty laundry separate from clean clothes.

Have Your Camper Pack Enough Clothing for All Eventualities

Two of the most essential items your child won’t want to forget are a bathing suit and towel. Many of our summer camps for kids are situated near a lake for plenty of daily fishing, boating, and swimming, and your child won’t want to be left out. Even if your child doesn’t know how to swim, many of our camps have qualified swim instructors on hand to provide swimming lessons. You’ll also want to ensure your child brings a rain poncho, jacket, sweatshirt, and at least one pair of pants in case some of the evenings get a little chilly around the campfire. It’s probably a safe bet to leave your child’s best clothing at home and pack in anticipation of daily hikes and other outdoor recreational activities. Be sure to pack several shoe options, including flip-flops or sandals, rain boots, rubber-soled shoes, and comfy tennis shoes for hiking.

Don’t Forget to Pack a Flashlight and Other Little Extras

Your camper probably won’t want to be without a flashlight, sunglasses, swimming goggles, pajamas, a bathrobe, their favorite stuffed animal and hat, and extra blankets and pillows. If you anticipate any out-of-camp overnights under the stars, be sure to pack a sleeping bag. You may want to pack a backpack or a mesh bag, as well as a refillable canteen or water bottle, so your child can carry around essential items while hiking. Consider packing other entertainment extras, such as a journal, pens and stationery, books, a disposable camera, and any electronic devices or personal snacks inside a sealed container that your camper may want during the camping trip (only if the camp allows it). If you’re worried your camper may get a little homesick, especially if this is their first camping trip, we suggest including pictures of family they can view while away from home. If your child has difficulty sleeping through external noises, you may want to consider packing a small, clip-on fan and an extension cord for white noise.

Does Your Little Camper Have Any Special Needs?

If your child takes any medications, be sure to include a list of their prescriptions and instructions for how often they need to take them. We’ll likely have you include this information in our registration forms prior to the beginning of summer camp, along with any special dietary needs or allergens our camp counselors should know about in advance. You generally don’t have to worry about packing bandages and first aid items, as summer camps for kids are usually equipped with these. If your child sunburns easily, don’t forget the sunscreen and aloe!

Be Sure to Include an Inventory List Inside Your Child’s Bag

Many parents prefer to pack side-by-side with their children, so there’s less confusion about what’s been packed later. We strongly recommend including a checklist of items that were packed inside your child’s suitcase, so they can ensure everything’s accounted for when it’s time to re-pack and go home. If you’re wondering about sending care packages, snacks, and letters to your child, less is probably more. Depending on how long they will be away at summer camp, sometimes bombarding a child with too much external communication from home fosters more feelings of homesickness. Trust us; you’ll thank us later for all these helpful tips!

Register Online for Our Summer Camps for Kids in New Jersey

The YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit social services organization dedicated to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is among the largest YMCA affiliates in New Jersey. Please contact us today with any additional questions or concerns you may have about what to pack for sleepaway camp. We also make it easy for parents to register their kids online!


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