Having gone to camp for many years, I have packed quite a few bags. Along with packing my own bags, I have seen thousands of camper’s suitcases.  The items and the sheer amount of stuff kids bring to camp amazes me.  Camp only lasts a week, Monday morning to Friday morning.  Some counties bring an entire school bus full of luggage that is packed like sausage in a casing and others bring a small moving truck. Whatever the mode of transportation they use, there is still more luggage than you would think.

Each county has their own way of sorting, packing, and organizing luggage. The best I’ve seen in my many years is using colored duct tape to designate which group they are in, which makes it easier for campers to find their luggage after arriving at camp. But with all that luggage, I guess you are wondering what they actually pack.

A standard camp packing list should include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Bed linens (sleeping bag or twin sheets, pillow, blanket)
  • Toiletries (shampoo, body soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, etc.)
  • Bath towel
  • Shower shoes (*sometimes this one isn’t on the list*)
  • 5 sets of clothes (*maybe a couple extra shirts*)
  • Underwear (5 pair)
  • Pajamas
  • Tennis shoes (for classes)
  • Socks (5 pair)
  • Swimsuit/trunks
  • Beach towel
  • Jacket (for inclement weather)
  • Extras (any attire for the camp theme)

I honestly believe some kids pack for camp like they are never going home.  I have seen large trunks, 4 piece luggage sets, tote boxes, and a duffle bag that could fit at least 3 campers inside.

What kids actually pack for camp:

  • The usual bed linens and toiletries
  • Bath towel
  • Clothes (a random assortment of clothes)
  • Underwear (2 pair)
  • Tennis shoes
  • Socks (1 pair)
  • Swimsuit/trunks
  • Beach towel
  • Teddy bear (sometimes)
  • A fan
  • A book
  • Flashlight
  • Jewelry
  • Makeup
  • Hats
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Hair styling tools
  • Snacks
  • Fancy clothes for the occasional dance

Kids have packed crazier things:

  • A backpack full of Spaghetti-O’s with the camp menu attached
  • A case of Coca Cola (my best friend and I when we were campers)
  • A full-sized knight for cabin decoration
  • A broom to sleep with
  • Red Bull and Mt. Dew
  • A pillow that was not a pillow, but a “hat”. Don’t ask.


I’m sure there are far crazier things that have made it to camp in the suitcase of a 10 year old. You may be asking yourself, “why do they pack all that stuff?”, but the real question is “does everything make it home?” The answer is NEVER!  There is the occasional camper who loses bits and pieces of their stuff throughout the week.  We do our best to make sure all the lost items find their way home, but sometimes a kid just doesn’t want to claim it.  One year a kid went home with nothing.  I guess he or she lost their stuff or just didn’t want to fool with it at the end of the week.  So in case your child is one of those who forgets something or loses something during camp, we have an extensive collection of lost and found items just waiting for the day they will be needed again.





Kelsey Brown ~ Freak Show

Program Assistant


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