Insider Mom’s Packing Tips

Which statement describes you best?


A- My daughter is going to camp next month so her bag is already packed and at the door. She cannot wear her bathing suit for the next few weeks because it’s already in the bag.

B- My daughter is going to camp next month. I’ve been looking at the list to figure out what I might need to buy so I’m not stuck shopping the day before I drive her up there.

C- My daughter is going to camp next month. We’ll throw her stuff into the bag the day before. It’s just a week and I’ve got too much going on to think about it now.


Isn’t it funny how we can approach the same thing so differently? And every method has its pros and cons. There’s no “right” way to pack, but I’ve got a few tips for you so you can help your daughter have a great experience as she goes off to test out her independence.

First, make sure you watch this great video from camp that gives you an overview of what to pack.

One of the first questions a person asks when packing for a trip is, “What will the weather be like?” That’s a bit of a tricky question in this case. I’ve experienced sweltering hot summers when I never looked at a sweatshirt. I’ve experienced cold summers when I wore long pants every day. I’ve experienced wet summers when it rained. Every. Single. Day. And we still had a good time. But most summers are warm during the day and cooler in the mornings and evenings.

Here are some “mom” tips related to the weather:

Think Layers

Your daughter is likely to experience spring, summer, and fall all in one day. She’ll start the day in long pants and a sweatshirt, then switch to shorts and a t-shirt and end the day back in her long pants and sweatshirt. So pack summer clothes for every day and then a long-sleeve T-shirt, sweatshirt, and a pair of pants that she can put on in mornings and evenings.

Rain Boots

If it’s going to be a rainy week, it really helps to have rain boots to keep your feet dry. Camp is an outdoors life with indoor respites. If not boots, pack an extra pair of sneakers. If her shoes get wet, camp staff will take care of her. They’ll throw them in the dryer to get them to dry faster, but it’s nice to have that extra pair ready to go.


While we’re talking about shoes, she really needs SNEAKERS. Crocs are not sneakers. They work well around town but they are not choice footwear in the woods. Don’t let her pack sandals. Just sneakers, flip-flops for beach and washhouse, and rain boots or an extra pair of sneakers.


It can be hard to get towels dry in the woods in summer, so I do recommend packing more than one. Two beach towels should do the trick. A separate bath towel is a good idea, and if your daughter is likely to take a shower every day, pack two. (If you’re shocked that I’m assuming your daughter might not take a shower every day, read this.)

Bathing Suits

Unless your daughter hates the water, pack two bathing suits. Same reason as the towels.


“Housekeeping” Tips:


Washhouses are in a separate building near their sleeping quarters so they will have to carry their toiletries to and from the washhouse each time they use it. It really helps to have a little container to keep it all in so she can just pick it up and go.

Fitted Sheet

The packing list mentions a fitted twin sheet. It’s a really good idea. If it’s one of those sweltering summers, pack a flat sheet too so she doesn’t have to get in her sleeping bag when it’s really hot.

Laundry Bag

The suitcase is going to come home looking like she threw everything in there. Because she did. Have you ever tried to live out of a suitcase for a week? Especially when you are frequently searching through that suitcase by the light of a flashlight? Having a bag for dirty laundry to go into might help a little bit. You can pick up one of those in the laundry section of the dollar store.


The Final Word: DIRTY

It’s the good kind of dirty. The “I played hard” kind of dirty. The “I tried something new” kind of dirty. The “I made new friends” kind of dirty. The woods are going to rub off on her, and that includes the dirt. If dirt bothers you, start to embrace the idea now. God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt. Repeat that a few times. And choose to send the clothes that already have stains on them.


Because I prefer to put myself in category B and not do all the packing on Saturday (there’s no way I’ll pull off category A!), I think I’d better start making that list and checking it twice. If you have any questions about packing your daughter for the first time, feel free to put it in the comments and I’ll try to give a helpful answer!


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