Last Minute Sleepaway Camp Packing Tips

5.25.17 by

You know it is getting down to the wire when your Facebook feed is flooded with posts asking for last minute camp packing advice on a Saturday night. With trunks set to be picked up next week, you are most likely running around frantically picking up last minute items. That being said, we thought this would be a good time to give you some Summer 365 tricks of the trade and our best packing advice from seasoned mom’s who have packed hundreds of duffles!

summer 365 visiting camps sleepaway camp advice expert tours preparing for summer kids teens

Ziploc Bags

Buy lots and lots of Ziploc bags – all sizes are useful. The gallon size is good for shoes, while the 2.5 gallon size is good to separate clothing into categories for easy unpacking: t-shirts, sleep pants, bathing suits. The L & XL sizes are great for sheets, towels & blankets. You might even want to pick up a couple of totes for even larger items.

If you like it then you shoulda put a label on it

Label everything! Label the stuffed animals, the books, the battery cases, the water bottle, the shampoo, the stationary and yes even the stamps – everything that goes into the suitcase should be labeled. It’s just one of those necessary chores that will help ensure that most things will return home with your camper. This principle applies to all clothing items worn head to toe, plus sports equipment, small games, and even toiletries. If you were to visit a camp, you’d quickly learn why this is a necessity. There’s constant hustle and bustle going on at the waterfront, athletic fields, and cabins—where towels, shirts, shoes, and gear are thrown everywhere.

Toiletry Essentials

Most parents send toiletries in some type of carrying case, but many parents over stuff them. This makes it hard for your campers to find things and easy for them to lose things. Put one of everything in a carrying case, and put extra items in labeled Ziploc bags.

Get the Write Stuff

You probably already have too much stationery. I know, stationery is so cute and it is hard to resist buying lots of it, plus you want to make it fun for the kids to write. Make it as easy as possible by pre-addressing multiple envelopes to home (and maybe one for each of the grandparents) and stamping on some of the envelopes. Put all labeled stationary together to make it easy to find. Additionally, send labels with family & friends addresses and return address labels in with the rest of their stationary.


Pack all of the bedding together (we like to bundle it together in a Ziploc tote). Write a note to your camper’s counselors telling them what goes where, and of course a nice thank you in advance for taking such great care of your kid!

Make a list…check it twice

Lay everything out on the floor. Make a master list of everything you are sending your camper away with. One, check it against the camp packing list. This is a good time to check if you have overpacked, and thus you may want to remove some of the extra 20+ t-shirts you packed. But you can never have enough underwear…always overpack that! Two, it will help you take inventory of what your child comes home with and get organized for next year. Just an FYI there will be some missing articles of clothing and gear!! When your camper gets home you can see what needs to be replaced for next year.

Junk in your trunk

If you have two trunks, use one for all of the clothes and the other for everything else. Pack the heaviest stuff on the bottom so as nothing gets crushed and for good weight distribution. We like our duffles bottom heavy! If you are packing sports equipment, put it in the middle of soft stuff like blankets and towels.


Wrap a present with a welcome note to your camper in his or her trunk. It’s always fun to get to camp and have something to unwrap! And speaking of unwrapping, before you wrap the present be sure to remove all of the outer packaging. Make sure you do this for any items you are packing in the trunk and don’t forget to label them!

Bus bag

Be sure to pack a bag for the bus. Throw in a deck of cards, Mad Libs, some snacks, water and a bus note. How to fold a bus note instructions here.

There is no ‘I’ in Team”

Make it a team effort! Include your camper in the process so they are aware of everything you are sending them to camp with and because, after all, remember camp is for them!

Camp Packing… There’s an App for that! 

As much as camp is about disconnecting, there is something to be said for making camp packing a breeze. Our new favorite app, Bunk Supplies and Beyond will cure your pre-camp woes. Everything from shampoo and toothpaste to flip flops and… beyond! Instead of spending hours strolling through drugstore isles, this app lets you curate your own cart online and sends you everything you need, already labeled. And for us camp veterans, we know that is a huge deal. They are offering 10% off all orders with the referral code “365” and discount code “s365” at checkout. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will go to SCOPE, helping every child enjoy the gift of summer camp.

Now you are armed with the best forces – make this the best (and easiest) summer ever!


Care packages straight to your inbox. Sign up for the Summer 365 Newsletter.

* indicates required

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

email facebook twitter
Thank you.
Please be patient while we transmit your form.
* indicates required
Follow by Email