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10 Summer Camp Essentials

Ah…summer! That means longer days, fresh air, brilliant sunshine…and summer camp! Whether your child spends the day at camp or will be off for a few weeks of sleepaway camp, there are plenty of helpful essentials to provide them that'll make camp life easier. Do you need some extra ideas on what to pack for day camp or summer camp? Here are some great ideas!



Insect Repellent

The more time your child spends having a blast in the woods on a summer day, the more likely they are to come across the myriad bugs that call it home. Between gnats, mosquitoes and horseflies, there are more than enough insect critters waiting to join in on the good times. Help your child keep the bugs at bay by supplying them with a suitable kid-safe insect repellent. Also, pack some bug-bite relief medication for the ones that get past the repellent. Show your child how to use the bug repellents correctly so it's easy for them to apply when the time comes.


Extra Shoes

When kids are having fun outdoors, especially at camp, it’s always possible that their shoes can become muddy or even just plain soaked. Send them off with an extra pair to keep dry and change into if need be. You can even go with one pair of comfortable shoes like sneakers to wear around the bunkhouse, and one pair of more rugged hiking boots for those through-the-woods excursions. Flip flops or slide sandals are also great to have on hand to wear around the swimming area at camp.



There's almost nothing more summery than playing outside in the sun! However, UV radiation can even come through on cloudy days, so be sure to supply your child with enough sunscreen to use through the duration of the camp. Spray-on varieties are often easier for kids to apply because they cover a wider surface area of skin faster.



In addition to sunscreen, a hat is a summer camp essential. It helps keep the sun off your child’s face, helps keep their eyes free from bright sun and provides some protection against surprise rain squalls that often pop up during nature hikes. A pair of sunglasses is a great companion to a wide-brimmed hat, too.



Teaching a basic skill to your child can be a fun and rewarding experience for you both, so why not use the opportunity of summer camp to teach your child some basic navigation with a compass? Compasses are inexpensive, very fun, fit in a pocket and are a great way for your child to feel like an explorer. For an additional skill, teach them to find the North Star and show them how people have used it to navigate for hundreds of years.



For day camp, a basic backpack works well for holding all your child's belongings for the day, but for overnight camps, you might consider sending them along with two backpacks: one for their day-to-day needs around camp, and one specifically for day-long excursions (hikes, short campouts, etc.). If they'll be attending sleepaway camp, a larger backpack is great for packing bulkier essentials like pillows, clothes and a sleeping bag.



Labeling clothing and personal items can help prevent things from getting lost. This can be as simple as a tag or label sewn or taped onto the back of important items, or you can go with completely personalized gear that has your child's name monogrammed on it.



Depending on the camp conditions, electricity in the sleeping areas may be limited – and there might not be any at all if your child is heading off on an overnight excursion with some tent camping. A good flashlight will also help them during any evening camp activities.



Your child may appreciate having a place to write down their thoughts at camp, or to make observations. A simple notebook or journal will provide them with a creative outlet for this purpose. No Wi-Fi at camp? Your child might also enjoy some simple stationery that will allow them to write letters home to you and to friends. For longer overnight stays, consider sending them off with a few favorite books, or surprise them with a few new ones.


Snacks and Water Bottles

Simple food and water containers are perfect for any camp excursion, and they can work especially well for day camps. A few favorite treats from home can make the transition to overnight camp easier, and a sturdy bottle filled with chilled water is convenient to have on hand all throughout the day when the sun starts warming up.