What to Pack for Summer Camp
Questions about what to bring to camp are common. A full list is below and there are some important considerations and how campers are prepared can make a big difference in ensuring a smooth and fun camp day:
Yes, children can bring a special stuffy for rest time or toys for freeplay time,
but please prepare your camper for the responsibility of keeping track of those things (name labels are awesome!). Also note that no toys from home are permitted during yoga class, except for rest time if they are not distracting. No stuffies or personal toys can go on outings or to the playground either.
Your camper needs a backpack
that can hold their lunch, water bottle, and, if they wish, towel on water days. This is not optional and shoulder or grocery bags are not acceptable alternatives. Campers need their hands free during outing transit – they will be holding hands with partners, using hand-railings, or holding rope lines. Loose lunch boxes and water bottles are often dropped and have been left behind on buses and metro trains. Shoulder bags are not as secure as backpacks, short campers tend to drag them along the ground, and things fall out of them, especially when children lean over or swing their bags around (which poses a safety hazard as well).
We strongly recommend a regular backpack with comfortable straps, but older (1st+) campers may prefer those drawstring bags. That’s fine. They are old enough to make their own comfort choices. Younger campers (PK/K) tend to have trouble with the drawstring backs and they end up dragging on the ground a lot.
Your camper’s bag should be as light as possible.
Campers carrying too much stuff tire quickly . . . and whine a lot, which is contagious and brings the mood of the whole group down. When we go on outings, we take only essentials, leaving extra changes of clothes and unnecessary personal items in the camp cubbies.
We routinely empty extra toys, books, and miscellany – even rocks – from camper backpacks before outings (for campers 1st+, we ask them to do it and decide what’s worth carrying). We’ll keep doing this, so no sweat if your kid packs stuff, but for small campers especially, please consider what you can do to lighten their load. Stainless steel lunch containers and water bottles, for example, are heavy. Consider investing in very small cold packs. Several small lunch containers in a soft bag might be easier to manage and to pack into a backpack than a bulky lunch box. Consider a small towel rather than a beach towel on water days (towels must fit in backpacks. It is not safe to have campers dragging towels on and off busses).
Your camper needs good walking shoes, always.
We go out every day – to a playground, water feature, or field trip. We do not allow campers to wear shoes that might fall off: no flip flops, open-healed or loose crocs or clogs, wedges, or ballet flats please. We didn’t need the confirmation, but there are apparently scientific studies proving that people walk more slowly in flip-flops than more secure shoes. Sandals are fine, if they are secure.
If your camper wants to wear their flops at the spray park or Yards Park, they are welcome to pack them, but see previous paragraph. (We generally find they don’t wear them, by the way, so if you want them worn, make that clear to your child.)
Consider also your child’s ability to manage their own shoes: tie-up high tops, for example, or sandals with complicated straps?
Consider purchasing extra camp t-shirts.
Campers are required to wear either a camp t-shirt or bandana on all outings. No exceptions. Each camper will get one t-shirt, but we do outings almost every day and the shirt may not stay clean all week. We always have bandanas on hand, but not all campers love those which is why we are adding the shirt option this year.
If your camper would like to have an extra shirt (or shirts), please indicate that in the camper questionnaire and we’ll charge the credit card on file. If your camper would like an extra shirt, email us. We’ve placed the order based on enrollment and extra shirt requests submitted. We will fill additional requests if we have available shirts.
We use the shirts and bandanas to help us quickly identify our campers among a crowd of kids – so awesome for spotting a child wandering from our group or doing our interval head counts during water play or playground time – and if a child is ever separated from the group, they are wearing the camp phone number.
Your camper should be prepared for sun.
Please pre-apply sunscreen. We try to eat in the shade (as much for heat as sun), but playgrounds and spray parks are sunny places. Feel free to send sun hats and sun glasses.
There are even a couple field trip venues for which we recommend umbrellas as portable sunshades because we expect a long, exposed walk (we’ll let you know when those are coming).
When we are out for a long period, we may have campers reapply sunscreen and the staff carry some for that purpose or for campers who have forgotten. If you need your child to use a particular sunscreen, please pack it in the smallest possible container.
Don’t forget the water bottle!
We usually eat away from the camp venue and campers need water bottles to stay hydrated. Please pack (and label) a water bottle every day.
Your camper needs to wear something over their swimsuit during transit.
We do not allow campers to ride the buss with bare legs (girls) or chests (boys). If their suits are effectively t-shirts and shorts, they are good to go. Otherwise, they need a coverup of some a kind. Please consider that your camper may be putting shorts/pants over a wet/damp suit on the way home. They may need dry bottoms to change into on waterplay days.
If you’ve spent any time in schools or camps you know that the lost-and-found is a monster. We ask variations of “does anyone know who’s waterbottle/lunchbox/shirt/yogamat/etc this is?” many, many times a day. Our collection of spare swimsuits, hats, gloves, and more is all stuff that was left behind. Label EVERYTHING! – or at least everything that might be removed from your child’s person over the course of a camp day – wait . . . that’s everything.
Ok, now here’s the list (click the arrow to expand):