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"What to pack for camp!" by Arianna Ware


You’ve got your placement, you’re counting down the days until camp, but wondering what on earth you need to pack to last you the whole summer right? I’ve had multiple requests for this blog post so I know there’s people out there nodding their heads right now. 

The first big question is;

Shall I take a suitcase or a backpack? 

It’s completely down to personal preference. I took a suitcase because I’m not the best at ‘packing lightly’ and I don’t think I’d have the strength to carry all my belongings on my back (#weak) but, I know lots of people prefer a backpack, particularly if they are travelling afterwards as they consider it to be easier. 

If you choose to go with a suitcase, make sure the dimensions of your case is within the limits of any airlines you will be travelling with – if you’re planning on travelling, make sure you look at the domestic airlines within America before buying that suitcase because different travel companies have different limits! Then, depending on the limits, get the largest size you can get, even if you don’t think you’d fill it because then there’s plenty of room for all your American goodies at the end of the summer. I easily filled both the largest sized suitcase and a hand luggage case, but like I said, I don’t pack lightly and by the end of the summer, my cases were at their maximum weight limit – good job I left when I did!

Once you’ve battled the question of how to carry all your belongings, it’s time to make a list and start packing everything you need for the summer! Your camp will most likely send you their own packing list to meet their requirements, but here’s a list of what I think is essential to equip you for the whole summer and a few tips…


Ok, so this is obvious, but what is exactly essential? First of all, my best tip is to not bother going out and spending loads on clothes, especially for camp. I went into Primark and picked up a load of stuff which lasted me well for my whole summer, then I ended up leaving half of it over there because it didn’t cost much and they were ‘camp ruined’. Lots of camps do something called ‘colour war’, so wherever you go, make sure you pack a variety of different colours so your prepared to be on any coloured team! 

Selection of T-shirts and vest tops. Obviously, make sure your T-shirts/vests are camp appropriate, whether that be what’s on the t-shirt, or the fit. Just make sure it’s camp appropriate. You won’t need loads because you often end up wearing the same each week because you’ll be able to wash them at camp. If you want to be adventurous, pack a few Disney tee’s, the campers will love them! Boys, I think Tank tops are the go to item of clothing! It’s most likely you’ll be given your own camp t shirt too, and most camps have a shop where you can buy more – camp t-shirts are the best! Some camps however, may require you to wear camp tshirts every day, so check with your camp beforehand because if that’s the case, you won’t need to go out and buy as much!

Shorts. Again, make sure these are camp appropriate in regards to the length. Pack a few basic colours, and different materials. I found I preferred wearing the chino style, looser material compared to denim as it was easier to move around and more comfortable in the heat. Some camps may require you to wear a uniform, some or all days. For instance, upon the campers arrival and departure of camp, staff would be in uniform, which would be our camp t-shirt and Khaki shorts, so again, check with your camp beforehand incase there’s a certain colour of short you need. Bare in mind, if you are asked to wear Khaki, Khaki in America is not what we consider as ‘army green’…it’s more of what we call beige or stone. 

Longer length clothes. Yes, you’ll be in America for the summer so you’re expecting it to be sunny every day. However, it’s likely there’s going to be a few (or more) days of rain because of storms, and despite of the weather, it gets cooler in the mornings and nights so pack a few long sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts and joggers or leggings. Long length bottoms e.g. Jeans, joggers or leggings are also good to pack for zip lining! 

Poncho/rain coat. Again, it’s better to be prepared for a rain storm than unprepared, so pack a light poncho or rain coat to keep you dry on a day of rain. 

Underwear/Socks. You can never pack enough underwear and socks, think you’ve got enough? Think again, particularly socks! So go to Primark and go on a wild underwear and socks haul. Find some wacky knee length socks, get them…reason coming up soon! 

Swimming stuff. Girls, you’re most likely to be asked to wear a full length swim suit or tan-kini, boys, swimming shorts. Self explanatory really. 



Now, this is when the weight of your suitcase/backpack increases, so be sensible with the amount of shoes you pack, and again, I don’t advise buying or taking any expensive pair that you don’t want to get ruined. 

Trainers. You’ll be doing a lot of activities and running around, so pack a pair of trainers! 

Cons/Vans. Now these don’t have to branded of course, but either of these are handy shoes to just slip on and off, and are suitable for both calmer activities or running around – you can’t go wrong with a pair of Converse or Vans.

Wellies. I’m not sure if all camps require a pair of these, but it definitely seems to be a Girl Scout camp trend. I lived in my wellies, and with a pair of funky knee length socks popping out of the top, I looked the part! 

Flip flops. It’s likely that you won’t be aloud to wear open toed shoes around camp for health and safety reasons, however, a pair or two of basic flip flops are perfect to wear around the shower house or pool! 


So, you should have the clothing items down to a T now, but there’s going to be odd bits and bobs that will help shape your summer. 

Fancy dress clothing/accessories. If you can fit these in, pack them! I can guarantee you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use them. At my camp, we had themed dinners once a week, so this year I’m definitelly going more prepared! 


Some people prefer to get these when they arrive in the US, but I advise packing at least the travel sizes just incase you can’t get to Walmart straight away. 

Water bottle.

You’ll carry a water bottle around with you all day, everyday, so make sure you pack a durable water bottle to keep you hydrated! 


Doesn’t matter if you naturally tan and plan on catching the ultimate tan this summer, sunscreen is an absolute essential for your own safety. 

Bug spray.

Another essential to try and limit the amount of bites you get from the devilish mosquitos – evil creatures. 


These can be as wacky or as normal as you want, but I can guarantee you’ll need them considering your working in the sun for the summer.


These are personal preference but I don’t think I went a day without wearing a bandana. I packed multiple different colours and they were the perfect accessory to shove on to make my hair a bit more presentable. 


Electric or disposable. A camera is always handy to have with you at all times for those perfect snapping moments. Especially because it is likely that you won’t be able to have your phone on you.

Rucksack/fanny pack.

Something to carry your counsellor essentials around camp, from your schedule, to sunscreen and bug spray. 


An absolute must!!

Chargers for electrical goods and adapted to fit American sockets!


I advise packing two, one for the shower, one for the pool/lake.                      

Colouring books/reading books.

This can be for both you and/or the campers as long as they are appropriate. It’ll give you something to do during me time, but the campers will love them during quiet time.

Home comforts.

A lot of things can come under this, but they are definitely special things to take to camp. Take a few pictures of family and friends that you could put at your bedside. Take a soft toy (this may come in handy for those homesick campers). Take your favourite home snacks! Now the snacks/treats is something I didn’t bother taking last year but 100% wish I did. Obviously, you got to check what’s allowed in regards to customs, but pack a bar or two of your favourite chocolate (you’ll regret it if you don’t…herseys has nothing on British chocolate), some of your favourite sweets, some tea (I don’t drink tea but heard an American cup of tea won’t do you justice like a British cuppa), and/or some biscuits. Taking some treats will give you a taste of home, and if you’re willing to share, your fellow counsellors will love trying some of the things from home! 

You’ve probably been reading this,  thinking “how on earth will I pack it all in?!”, but obviously, just take as much as you think you are going to need and split it across your hold luggage and hand luggage. Try rolling your clothes in your suitcase, you may fit more in that way! 

Now, there’s probably things I’ve missed out, if so, I’ll add them in when I think of them. Also, each list will vary depending on who you are, what you’re doing at camp, what camp you’re going to, etc. So always check with your camp beforehand! I’d love to hear if there’s anything from this list missing, that you feel essential to pack for camp – leave me a comment. 

Arianna X