A complete guide to Packing for Summer Camp

April Blog: Packing for Summer Camp 2024! Pro Tips and Helpful Hints

The day the camper bags arrive during staff training is the first visual representation for our staff that camp is beginning. Our staff usually look at the bags unloading in nervousness (or fear) about the daunting task ahead of them – unpacking ALL the camper bags. Wekeela parents trust our staff to unpack their child’s belongings while ensuring their camper’s experience starts on day one – without unpacking. 

Of course, the idea of packing for camp can be just as daunting or overwhelming from the parent’s perspective, especially for first time camp parents. What should they bring? How many shirts? Does my child need their nice sneakers for camp? The number of questions that can jump into your head, whether you are a first time camp family or a veteran, can overwhelm you or your child. So the question we are asking is, how can we make packing for camp not only less stressful/overwhelming, but somehow fun? This blog will hopefully help with 2 things: preparing for the packing process and walking you through the do’s and dont’s of packing for summer camp. 

Where to start?

You signed up for Camp Wekeela, you started (or hopefully completed your forms)… now what? Let’s ask the question, what should my child bring to camp? Many camps work with third party companies that design, supply, and ship their camp clothing and make a high mark-up price, charging you higher prices for your camp clothing. Not us. Wekeela is one of the only camps that completely designs, sources, orders, and maintains our clothing catalog and inventory. We have our own website/company called WekeelaWear at campwekeela.com/shop. Everything that you see on our website has been designed by and for Camp Wekeela. This allows our camp families complete confidence that our customer service for our store is the same as it would be for a bunk issue during the summer. Size doesn’t fit or something is out of stock? You call our office and we deal with it – not a 3rd party who doesn’t know your family.

The Essentials:

When packing, it is usually best to refer to the packing list and to essentials. The Wekeela t-shirt uniform allows our camp community a sense of spirit and togetherness. However, we also believe in individuality. At Wekeela, no camper (or staff member) should, or will, be judged on their appearance or their clothing. Campers should not wear any clothing that is offensive or inappropriate. Camp can be a messy environment at times – please refrain from packing expensive or sentimental clothing items that you do not want to be dirty. See the packing list below for the “required” materials.

The Wekeela Store – Wekeela Wear & The Packing List: 

The packing list should be your guide on what to bring. Wekeela’s packing list is very concrete, and all the required items can be found at Wekeela Wear. The Wekeela clothing store is a one-stop-shop for all items and are sold directly from camp – no shipping delays or high fees for clothing. The website is built to be user friendly and an easy experience overall. 

The best part is if campers want new items during the summer they are free to look at items we have in person. Visit the Wekeela Wear store at: https://www.campwekeela.com/shop/

The 5 Tips for Packing for camp: 

  • Make it a team effort – empower your child to make the choices!

Not only to save time, but packing for camp as a group can actually be fun! For younger campers, give your child a chance to pick out 3-5 special items they want at camp – this can be a favorite shirt, a stuffed animal, or something else. This sense of empowerment will get your child more excited for the summer! If you are trusting your camper to pack everything alone, they will likely miss something or underpack. Give them the same sense of empowerment to take control of the packing situation – let them be the captain and the parents be the team players. 

  • Keep it organized 

Make sure your child knows what is being packed and where it goes. Every summer there is a bag with a secret compartment containing all the campers’ socks and the staff doesn’t see it.  Consider providing a list in the bag (for really organized parents) so that the staff can find all belongings and that your child doesn’t forget about anything. Please refrain from throwing all clothing in unfolded, this will make it much harder for our staff to unpack. 

  • Don’t overpack

Some of you will look at your closet and say “Let’s just send it all!” We strongly discourage you from overpacking, as every camper gets a limited amount of space for their belongings (3 drawers and 1 cubby). Your child does not need 10 pairs of shoes and 8 pairs of jeans. Sending a few extra items is ok, but utilizing the packing list is important to ensure your child has what they need and not more. Remember: if you under-pack for any reason, they can always buy extra clothing from the Wekeela Store right on campus!

  • Don’t forget socks… or toiletries!

Toiletries are really important to bring. Campers should not be sharing toiletries for health and safety reasons, so having individual toiletries for your child is important. When packing this, make sure to wrap in plastic or individual ziploc bags, just in case something opens during transport to camp. It is also a good idea to pack extra socks or underwear just in case.

  • Labels, Labels, Labels

Our biggest fear is a mound of unlabeled lost & found at the end of the summer. When something goes missing at camp, having a label makes it that much easier to find and return (or send home). Anything unlabeled and left at camp at the end of the summer will likely be donated to those in need. Wekeela partners with LabelDaddy for personalized labels. 

One Extra Reminder:

Bedding Suggestions: U.S. campers must bring their own linens. Please send sheets, pillow, blankets, and pillowcase in your child’s baggage. We sell an awesome Bed in the Bag option on our shop site: www.campwekeela.com/shop.  Campers should bring a sleeping bag to camp. The sleeping bag will be used for many things, including overnights, extra warmth on cooler summer nights, the last night of camp, and sleeping out under the stars. We recommend a ho

llofil or similar sleeping bag in a stuff sack that can be tied and carried home with the camper. We provide bedding for international campers.

So how can we make packing for camp fun? 

How can you make the stressful elements of packing fun? Make it into a big scavenger hunt style game! Get creative and divide the packing list into a fun game with the ultimate outcome of gathering all your important belongings for the duffle bag. Packing for camp does not need to be stressful or overwhelming. If you tackle packing in a methodical and organized approach as a team, packing is relatively quick and easy. Remember, packing for camp is the first tangible thing your child will do before getting to camp… so packing should be met with excitement!

Follow along below for more information on packing tips for any camper: 

Make sure you have enough soft foldable duffle bags for packing – Wekeela only allows soft bags – we have storage in each cabin for bags. (we sell these bags at the camp store website with free embroidery).

  • Make sure your bags are still in good condition with working zippers and no rips.
  • Follow our packing list. As stated above, we have a tee-shirt only uniform. All orders at our camp store will be sent directly to your child’s bunk. If your child needs more Wekeela Wear when they arrive– they can purchase at the physical store when they’re at camp too.  Exchanges are done at camp if necessary.
  • Label everything! Clothing, equipment, camper trunks, and more. Label Daddy Stickers, or Sharpie – any of these are great! We also recommend sending your camper with extra stick-on labels or a marker in their backpack. The new clothing that is purchased and sent to camp can also be labeled by us upon request.
  • Equipment – make sure your camper has everything they may want for the sports they’ll play which could include small items like a mouth guard for lacrosse and shin guards for soccer.  If they have a favorite tennis racket – you can send it. We have equipment for every sport–so this is certainly optional–but some campers have their own preference. Bigger pieces like Hockey Sticks should only be brought if the camper is being dropped off. Please make sure your child has comfortable sneakers that fit well and will be good for active days ahead.
  • Crazy Creek chair: These chairs are a camper favorite. Please label it if you get one. We use these in our Performing Arts building, at campfires, and other places where we are sitting unsupported. This is another optional item that can be obtained from our camp store and will be awaiting your camper upon arrival. 
  • Socks & Underwear: You can never have too many of these items, especially for younger campers. If you think you have enough already, add even more.
  • Spirit gear – It’s always ‘campy’ to have a few green and white bandanas, costumes for special events, tall socks and face paint in fun colors. We also will have College Weekend and Color War shirts available at camp! 
  • Don’t waste time, money, or space on things campers don’t need.  For example: dressy clothing – we want campers to be casual and comfortably dressed and focused on their activities and not appearances.  We will have one or two opportunities to dress up, where they can wear a polo or sundress, but nothing is necessary.
  • Letter writing supplies – pack stationery, stamps, and pens. Include an address book and/or pre-addressed envelopes – especially great for younger campers – we also will have the email-and-reply service, Wekeela Notes, so your child will need a black or blue pen for these notes. 
  • Some other “good-to-have items” include: battery operated fans that clip to bed frames, flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray, toiletries, extra batteries, and a few fun activities like beads and/or string for making bracelets, Mad Libs, a book or two, and little games like cards, jacks, and pick-up-sticks are good for rest hour.
  • Don’t overpack: Remember your child is only at camp for a certain amount of time and there will be items they like to wear more than others. Do not feel the need to go crazy. If you ever need to send anything, you can. 
  • We are here to help! Wekeela is proud that all of our clothing, website, and customer service is in house. You never need to worry about outside of camp help, if you have questions, concerns, etc. we are just a phone call or email away. 

Just remember

We ask the parents to send the duffle bags in advance of arrival. We unpack and make the beds for every camper so that day one of camp we can get right into programming. If you are dropping your children off at camp, remember we will not be allowing parents to walk to the cabin and unpack, so it will always be beneficial to send your bags in advanced so your child can enjoy the first day without having to unpack.

New Families- You can send your camper to camp wearing a green shirt instead of a Wekeela T-shirt since they aren’t being shipped to you.