Cool for Camp: What to Pack this Summer

Are you ready for summer camp?

This week I packed up and sent off three (lucky!) kids to Catalina Island Camps for two weeks of classic kid fun in the sun. For my son, it was his first summer camp experience and I wanted to pay extra attention to his gear, packing plenty of activities, stationary and clothes he’d love.

Packing three bags was a bit of a scramble, but it was also a fun trip down memory lane. Many of the items I chose for their bags were the same as the items I packed in my own camp trunk many years ago.

But there were a few new ones!

Seeking some cool ideas for what to pack? I’ve collected some of my best ideas and some recommendations, including a couple of inexpensive DIY projects to pack up.

PS: See if you can spot my own camp reading materials from “back in the day” in the slide show after the jump!


  • Cool Duffel 1 of 16
    Cool Duffel
    Pack it all up in style. Everything fits in this well organized rolling Mother Lode bag from Ebags. ($164)
  • Cool Game 2 of 16
    Cool Game
    Pack some simple games like Cuponk to play with new bunk buddies. ($16.95)
  • Custom Caps 3 of 16
    Custom Caps
    Trucker hats are where it's at! Design your own custom cap at the Lids site or in a mall near you. (from $20)
  • The Camp Classic 4 of 16
    The Camp Classic
    Isn't this a summer camp essential? Don't forget to pack the Mad Libs! (from $2.50)
  • More Camp Classics 5 of 16
    More Camp Classics
    Remember these? If you've forgotten how it works, perhaps your camper will remind you how to make lanyard creations (from $5.99)
  • Camp Quizzes 6 of 16
    Camp Quizzes
    Better than truth or dare... Coke or Pepsi books are packed with fun questions to get to know your bunkmates better! ($7.99)
  • Camp Sleeping Bags 7 of 16
    Camp Sleeping Bags
    Sure we want them to be cozy but lets face it, camp sleeping bags tend to get trashed. These Target sleeping bags are an affordable option. ($29.00)
  • Beach Gear 8 of 16
    Beach Gear
    Got sun and sand? You'll want to pick up a few essentials like sunscreen to protect skin and baby powder which makes the sand slide right off! (from $3.00)
  • Reading Material 9 of 16
    Reading Material
    Back in my day it was comic books but nowadays graphic novels like the Wimpy Kid series rule. My son couldn't wait to get his hands on this book.($13.95)
  • Loads of Labels 10 of 16
    Loads of Labels
    Label it or lose it! Our favorite labels for camp come from Mabel's Labels. ($39.95)
  • Clever Kits 11 of 16
    Clever Kits
    Friendship Bracelets? Cat's Cradle? Chinese Jumprope? Jacks? There's a Klutz book for that. All gear and directions ready to go for these classic pastimes and more. (from $12.95)
  • Card Games 12 of 16
    Card Games
    When all else fails, a deck can save the day. Don't forget to pack cards and book of simple card games. ($12.55)
  • Backpack & Water Bottle 13 of 16
    Backpack & Water Bottle
    This day pack from CamelBak does it all - doubling as both day pack and water bottle for hike day comfort. (from $55.00)
  • DIY Camp Stationary 14 of 16
    DIY Camp Stationary
    Don't spend a fortune on stationary when you can make DIY Camp Stationary at home. Don't forget to stamp and address envelopes! (from $5.00)
  • Animated Hoodies 15 of 16
    Animated Hoodies
    Lightweight, UPF solar protective and FUN hoodies are a camp fashion must! ($29.99)
  • A Familiar Friend 16 of 16
    A Familiar Friend
    It's nice to see a familiar face at camp so be sure to pack a favorite like this Webkinz Wooly Mammoth small stuffed toy. ($15.95)

Disclosure: I have reviewed a couple of these items/brands (Mouthman, Ebags, Mabel’s) for assorted other sites in the past but have received no samples or compensation in exchange for or consideration of this post. All photos are of the items that actually went to camp with my own kids, hence the “beat up” look of some of these well loved faves.

Sending daughters to camp? You might want to read the debate about scheduling pre-camp waxing appointments.

More Casa de Chaos adventures:

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Article Posted 4 years Ago
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