16 Camp Must-Haves
If you pack some or all of these items for camp you will be a superstar camp counselor!
Brownie points for kids pastors that pack some of these items in a gift bag for their camp leaders!
Camp food is great…most of the time, but you might want some extra snacks to keep you going throughout the day or to munch on if you miss a meal. Granola bars, trail mix or fruit strips are great options to bring with you to camp.
2. Coffee/Energy Drinks
If you are anything like me and camp cafeteria coffee just doesn’t do it for ya, bring some Starbucks VIA packets or Emergen-C with caffeine. If you really need to, bring a pack of Red Bulls and keep them in your dorm! No judgement here!
A flashlight is necessary for sneaking around the dorm while others are sleeping or getting back to the cabin at night. Just make sure your campers don’t have their flashlights in their bunks with them or they will never sleep! Shadow puppets anyone??
Sharpies will come in handy for team activities, marking shirt tags and a billion other things during your time at camp. You might consider bringing an assortment of sharpie colors too, just in case.
5. Plastic Bags
Ziplock bags are perfect for holding camper money, medicine etc. Grocery store bags and trash bags are perfect for sending dirty or wet clothes home with each camper. Bring both and you will be all set to help out your campers and parents who receive the dirty, smelly clothes at home.
Chances are you will have a camper that didn’t bring sunscreen or bug spray so bring enough for yourself and to share with your kids. Spending all day in the sun at camp can give you a serious burn if your not careful and nights around the campfire or at the concession barn could be miserable without bug spray.
7. Water Bottle
This should be a given- you will need a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated all week! If you are dehydrated and miserable all week your campers will be miserable too! Keep yourself healthy and strong by filling up your bottle throughout the day.
8. Craft Supplies
This is an extra that just might save your life during free time. Most camps have free time and the kids can get restless or bored. Bring along a couple small crafts your campers can do during downtime to keep them occupied while they rest. This could be bracelet making or lanyards or whatever! If your camp already has a craft time maybe bring some activities like small puzzles or even coloring.
9. Little Gifties and Notes
One of my favorite things to do for my campers is bring little gifts to leave in their room for when they arrive. I spend about $3 per camper and its a great investment to show them you care and were thinking about them. For girl campers I like to give a chapstick, a piece of candy and a bracelet or small toy from the Dollar Tree. Another tradition we have at my camp is to decorate signs with the camper’s names for their cabin doors. It only takes a few seconds the night before to write their names and color or decorate the sign. A stationary pad is a great thing to have at camp too so you can write your campers notes before they leave or throughout the week and let them know how great it was to spend the week with them and see them grown in the Lord.
10. Mini First Aid Kit
Your camp should always have a nurse on standby but for those little things that don’t require a nurse’s attention the mini first aid kit is a huge help.
11. Hand Sanitizer/Clorox Wipes
Camp is dirty and kids are messy. Enough said.
Buy some mini tissue packs to carry with you throughout camp to help out your campers. They will be super useful for campers with a runny nose, cleaning up small spills or even as toilet paper. You just never know. #camplife
Kids are loud. You may be a pro at getting your campers to sleep but maybe another counselor in your hall has a little difficulty and you need those earplugs to drown out the sound of unruly campers. You may just need them to block out sounds of being around nature. Either way, very helpful.
14. Rain Ponchos
You at least need some kind of rain gear for yourself but having a couple extra for the kids who didn’t bring a rain jacket with them may help you out in the event of a downpour.
15. Team Spirit Stuff
Arguably the most important thing you need for camp…team spirit items. Hopefully you are able to find out what color your team is before you go. Bring with you anything and everything you can find in that color. Bandanas, duct tape, shirts, face paint, sharpies, Hawaiian leis, glasses…literally ANYTHING. Your campers probably won’t know to bring stuff in that color so it is up to you! At my camp, team spirit participation counts as a lot of points to go towards the week long competition so you want to be ready. I’ve also been to camps that this stuff is nice to have but doesn’t count for points. It’s good to be prepared either way!
If you do not know your team color ahead of time, do not panic. Bring assorted face paints, a bag of twisty balloons to make hats, washable markers and white t-shirts (use your sharpies to color them)!
I want to emphasize that if you cannot afford to buy a bunch of stuff for your campers or yourself it is OKAY. Being with your campers for the week and investing in them is what is most important and is a huge sacrifice. You are already a rockstar for volunteering to be a camp counselor! Some of the things on this list won’t be possible for everyone but there are a lot of things you can do without breaking the bank.
If you are lucky enough to be sent with your church to camp maybe the children’s pastor can help you out in getting some of these items! I have gone to camp several times as an extra counselor without my church. Those are the times when you have to budget and get creative because it is all on your own dime. But it is possible! It is worth it to plan and invest a little money in being prepared so you can help out your campers as much as possible!