Packing for Sleepaway Camp: Our Best Tips

You’ve packed your kid for a trip before but, packing for sleepaway camp is a whole other challenge. Here’s how to get it done so the only thing you need to stress about is what to write in their letter.

Photo credit: Google

Photo credit: Google



Follow the camp packing list to the letter. There’s a reason it was written. Make a separate list of items you need to purchase and schedule a time in your calendar to purchase these missing items.

Get a sturdy footlocker trunk. It will be opened, closed, pushed, pulled, sat on, and lived out of daily.

Label ALL of your kid(s)’ clothing, accessories, and gear. A silver sharpie is great for labelling dark blue and black items or, if you wish to save yourself some time and headache, Mabels Labels are a great option.


Photo credit: Google

Photo credit: Google

Camp is about independence so, pack by category instead of by outfit so your child can select what to wear. Use gallon ziplock bags or packing cubes to separate undergarments, socks, tops, bottoms, swim gear, etc.

Conversely to what we typically suggest, pack flip flops, water shoes, and tennis shoes towards the top since these shoes will likely be placed in a cubby or under the bed soon after arriving. Place sheets and towels on the very top since this is what they’ll be reaching for first to set up their bed or bunk.

Pack bedding and/or a sleeping bag and pillow in a separate duffle. While space saving bags may seem like a good idea. remember your kid(s) won’t have access to a vacuum when they pack up to return home.

Organize toiletries in a handy caddy they can take to and from the shower with ease and wrap the caddy in a ziplock bag to avoid spillage prior to placing it in the trunk.

Put batteries in devices prior to camp. Pack extras in labelled ziplock bags.

Pack fun activities like cards, coloring and writing utensils, bracelet making supplies, etc. in zippered pouches. Pack colored pencils instead of crayons since the latter might melt in the heat.

Pack letter writing supplies in a storage clipboard. Create pre-stamped and addressed envelopes ahead of time.


Put an inventory together of everything you packed and tape it to the inside of the trunk lid so your kid(s) and/or their camp counselor can consult the list when packing and make sure s/he doesn’t leave anything behind.

Tape a few meaningful pictures and a letter on the inside of the trunk lid as well. This will make for a nice surprise and keep those homesick feelings at bay.