As families pack bags and finalize camp arrangements, summer promises a memorable and exciting adventure for children. Preparing for summer camp ensures children’s safety and enjoyment through effective packing and proactive health preparations. Addressing health concerns and teaching sun safety and hydration are just some of the steps that foster independence and readiness for the adventures ahead.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable summer camp experience for both parents and children. Many camps provide detailed checklists, which can seem daunting if left to the last minute. These lists often include health forms, sunscreen, and appropriate footwear. Families can avoid the pre-camp scramble by starting early and breaking down tasks into manageable steps, like researching camp activities, familiarizing children with camp rules, and discussing potential homesickness.

Involving children in the planning process goes beyond just easing logistical challenges. It instills a sense of responsibility and excitement. Working together to create packing lists, shop for supplies, and organize belongings allows kids to take ownership of their camp experience and feel more prepared for the journey ahead. Planning ahead not only fosters a sense of anticipation and readiness but also enhances the overall enjoyment of summer camp.

Health Prep

Preparing your child for summer camp involves prioritizing their health. Ensure immunizations are current and schedule a check-up if necessary. Inform camp staff about allergies, medications, and health conditions like asthma or diabetes. If your child has any conditions that require additional consideration, be sure to inform your child of any symptoms that require contacting a counselor for help, as well as other potential scenarios that you should have an action plan in place for. 


Empower your child for camp by teaching them about important health-related topics and how to handle them. This builds their confidence and independence to handle minor issues themselves.

Important topics to consider educating kids about include:

Sun Safety

Teach your child that sunscreen needs to be applied (SPF 30+) generously and often, especially after swimming or sweating. Teach them to recognize sunburn (redness, pain) and to seek shade or tell a counselor if they feel uncomfortable. Be sure to pack SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat for long periods of sun exposure.


Ensure a reusable water bottle gets packed and encourage them to sip regularly, particularly in hot weather and during activities. Educate them about the signs of dehydration such as thirst, fatigue, and headaches. Let them know that they should seek water and help from a counselor if they experience any of these symptoms. 

See our related articles section at the bottom of this page for additional information on the importance of hydration and heat-related illnesses.


Tell your child to protect themselves from bug bites with a few simple tips. Tell them that just by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants, especially in wooded areas they can avoid the discomfort that comes from bug bites. Also teach them how to recognize common bug bites and to promptly inform a counselor if they notice any swelling, itching, or pain.

See our related articles section at the bottom of this page for additional information on common bug bites and how to treat them.


Emphasize to your child that while swimming at camp is fun, safety is very important. Encourage them to swim only in designated areas, accompanied by a buddy or counselor. Remind them never to venture beyond their depth limits, or attempt risky jumps, and to always follow the instructions of lifeguards and counselors.

Home Sickness

It’s common for children to miss home while at camp, so it’s important to have a conversation with them about it beforehand. Reassure them that missing home is natural and that you’ll miss them too, but remind them of the exciting activities and new friends they’ll get to experience. Packing a comfort item, planning a halfway call, or sending a postcard can provide additional support and help alleviate anxiety.

Packing Prep

Preparing for summer camp can be exciting but daunting. Here’s a handy checklist of essential packing items and tips.

Packing Items

  • Clothing, a mix of short and long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimsuit and pool towel
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30+)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Bug Spray
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Medications
  • Hoodie/ Jacket
  • Raincoat and boots
  • Sandals/ water shoes
  • Sturdy shoes for outdoor activities
  • Comfortable shoes for everyday wear
  • Pajamas
  • Lip balm (Ideally with SPF)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shower supplies
  • Deodorant
  • A small bag for dirty laundry
  • A reusable bag for wet clothes
  • Cash (if needed)
  • A deck of cards or other small games
  • A small stuffed animal or comfort item
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • A waterproof phone case

Packing Tips

  • Pack extra essentials like underwear and socks.
  • Label everything with your child’s name.
  • Streamline packing with cube organizers that compress clothes and keep items sorted, simplifying unpacking.
  • Prepare a ‘rainy day’ bag with entertainment like books and games.
  • Avoid valuables.
  • Involve your child in packing
  • Double-check any packing lists provided by the camp.

As families wrap up their preparations for summer camp, thorough planning sets the stage for a memorable adventure. By prioritizing effective packing and proactive health measures, parents ensure their children’s safety and enjoyment throughout their time away. From packing essentials to addressing health needs and fostering independence, each step taken ensures children can embrace the joys of outdoor exploration with confidence. With careful planning and proactive measures, preparing for summer camp becomes not just a logistical task, but a transformative journey of growth and discovery for young campers.

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Sources: Nemours, American Camp Association