The Essential Overnight Camp Checklist Your Child Needs

Did you know that millions of children and adults attend camp in the US each year?

That’s right — and your child’s first camp experience is a seriously big deal.

Make sure things run smoothly by preparing a packing checklist well in advance and making sure they have everything they need.

Packing together is a chance for you to get your child excited about their trip to camp, calm any nerves, and set them up to have an amazing time.

Worried that you’re going to miss something essential?

Don’t panic — we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading for our ultimate overnight camp checklist.

Labelled Clothes

Your child won’t get far at camp without clothes, and it’s important to prepare them for a variety of different activities and weather conditions. If possible, contact the camp in advance to ask about any recommended items.

As a starting point, you should pack:

  • Socks and underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Everyday clothing
  • Smart clothing
  • Warm jacket/coat
  • Waterproof coat and boots
  • Bathrobe
  • Swimwear

Be sure to label everything your kid packs so that it doesn’t get mixed up. This is especially important if the camp offers communal laundry facilities.

It’s always best to pack more than you think your child will need, as it’s inevitable that some of their clothes will get torn, lost, or stained.

Laundry Bag

Whether there are washing facilities onsite or not, your child will need a sturdy bag for their laundry.

If they do have access to washing machines, this helps them to keep clothes organized and transport them easily.

If there aren’t washing facilities, it’s a smart way to keep dirty clothes separate from the rest of their belongings when they pack to return home.

The best laundry bags are waterproof and wipe-clean. Avoid any bright white bags, which are sure to show up all the camp dirt!


Even if they rarely spend more than five minutes in the bathroom at home, your child will need to pack some essential toiletries.

Here’s what should be on your list:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Lip balm
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Hair ties

Your child should also pack at least two towels – one for washing, and one for activities like swimming and surfing.

Try to dissuade older kids from packing too much make-up, hair product, etc. The whole point of camp is to get out and have fun, not spend hours worrying about the way you look!

Invest in a sturdy, waterproof washbag to keep your child’s toiletries separate from the rest of their packing.

Activity Equipment

Camp is all about the awesome activities — but your kid will struggle to take part if they don’t have the right clothing or equipment.

Ideally, you’ll be given a program of activities before your child reaches camp, along with details on any essential equipment.

You might need to include items like:

  • Cycle helmet
  • Tennis racket
  • Musical instrument
  • Dance clothes
  • Sports clothes
  • Swimming goggles
  • Wetsuit

It’s impossible to guess exactly what will be needed, so be sure to contact the camp in advance for all the details you need.

If there’s an activity your child isn’t sure about taking part in, pack the necessary equipment anyway — there’s a good chance they’ll get swept up in the excitement once they arrive.

Medication and First Aid

If your child requires any special medication or has a specific health condition, it’s important to discuss this with the camp beforehand. They’ll be able to make their policy clear and advise your child on where to store their medication.

Even if your child doesn’t take any prescribed medication, it’s smart to pack a few general first aid items for them.

Here’s what you should consider including:

  • Band-aids
  • Tissues
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Cold compress

All overnight camps will have qualified first aiders on hand to help if your child gets into any trouble, but the items above will help them to deal with small issues like cuts and splinters themselves.

Sun Protection

Leaving your kids without essential sun protection can cause eye damage, skin damage, and even increase their risk of cancer.

To make sure that your child can have fun without risking their health, be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hats to keep them protected.

If your child isn’t keen on applying sunscreen, try a spray or aerosol version, or a colored suncream which shows them areas they’ve missed. Be sure to teach them how to apply it correctly before they leave.

Bug Protection

There’s nothing fun about being plagued by insects, so make sure you kid packs plenty of insect repellant ready for their overnight camp.

Some camps may also allow you to pack a mosquito net to keep your child safe at night, although this won’t be necessary in all areas.

Sentimental Items

Everyone feels a little homesick at times, especially if it’s their first time staying at an overnight camp.

Encourage your child to pack a family photograph, a cuddly toy, or another sentimental item to remind them of home and reassure them when they’re feeling lonely.

Just make sure you don’t send anything too valuable, as things can get lost at camp.

Entertainment Items

It’s likely that your child will have some downtime to play with their new friends during their overnight camp stay.

Packing some fun entertainment items is a great way for them to learn to have fun without taking part in an organized activity.

You could pack:

  • Playing cards
  • Board games
  • Quiz books
  • Ball games
  • Coloring books

Avoid packing games consoles and electronic items, as these are banned at most overnight camps.

How to Pack For Overnight Camp

Helping your child pack for their first overnight camp should be a fun bonding experience for both of you.

Make sure things run smoothly by creating a detailed packing checklist and crossing items off together. Don’t try to take control of everything — this is a great chance to let your child be independent.

Want more tips from camp experts? Check out our blog.

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