The “Secret” Packing List – A Camper’s Take on 9 Must-Haves for Summer Camp
May 15, 2013, by Kristy
The “Secret” Packing List – A Camper’s Take on 9 Must-Haves for Summer Camp
May 15, 2013, by Kristy

Check out our ongoing packing list on Pinterest!

Guest blog post by Hannah Pasternak, a Maine camps alum

It is that time of year again. Dusty camp trunks are being pulled down the attic stairs, or up from the basement. Mom and Dad want to start packing—trying on an old uniform to make sure it still fits, checking to see if your portable fan still works, and putting together a master list for your annual toiletry shopping spree at Target. Camps provide updated packing lists for their campers each summer to guide families through the stressful and daunting task of packing. But when color war breaks out, you realize how perfect that blue tutu sitting in your room would have been. I learned over a pretty long time span what the “secret” packing list entailed. What is a secret packing list, you might ask? It includes the “campy”-est things you could imagine that aren’t quite necessary but will make your overnight camp experience all the better — and all the more fun.

1. Stationery, clipboard, and … Stickers!

Although your camper may not put much use to stationery, an awesome sticker collection will never go to waste — I promise. My first few summers all of the younger campers kept sticker books. We would trade stickers during rest hour and marvel at how incredible gel-filled butterfly stickers could be. “Hey, do you have any stickers?” is a solid conversation starter for any camper. It’s worth the $20 at A.C. Moore.

2. Headlamp

As my mother is a well-weathered camper herself, she sent me to camp with a headlamp from Day 1. However, this is a tool most campers don’t appreciate the beauty of until they are older. Headlamps are flashlights that come on a band that you can wear around your head. I got much more use out of my headlamp  than I ever did out of my flashlights, and I felt super campy while wearing it. My camp friend Pam said the following about headlamps recently: “Never got one, always wanted one.”

3. Cute Velcro towel

For girls at camp, Disney princesses and Nickelodeon TV shows are the hot new thing all over again. Some girls at my camp had the coolest towels with everything on them from Hello Kitty to Sesame Street. The best towels are the ones that you can attach by Velcro. That way, you don’t have to worry about holding up your towel and your shower basket on your way to the showers.

4. A sturdy shower basket

Camps will often recommend on their packing lists that campers bring shower baskets. However, make sure you choose the one that won’t break when you load it up with the seven pounds of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, etc. that campers inevitably try to squeeze in there.

5. Egg crate

If your camp allows egg crates, bring one! As I got older at camp, I progressively got less and less sleep just because my best friends and I would stay up late giggling. The sleep that you do manage to get at camp is super valuable, so it’s important to make sure that when the lights finally go out, you sleep well.

6. Extra blankets

We love Maine, and we love summer, but when the temperatures cool off at night, there’s nothing better than a little something cozy from home. My friends always brought these massive, incredibly soft blankets that were big enough to spread across two beds. All six of us would huddle under the blanket until we all fell asleep. Camp is always better when you’re comfy.

7. Onesie

And that is a perfect segue into the “onesie” conversation. Camp is the place where you can be yourself and every single person will love you for it. So, bring your onesie to camp – it’s the perfect opportunity! At home, you only get to wear it on your school’s Pajama Day and during a snow day or two. But at camp … well, let’s just say there’s nothing better than a photo of twenty teens dressed up like giant babies.

8. Crazy Creek chair

Crazy Creeks are easy to carry with you anywhere, and are great substitutes for sitting on the sand at a beach bonfire or on wet grass during a cookout. But we all know the real reason why Crazy Creeks are a must — the classic game of unclipping your friend’s chair when he or she isn’t looking. Their reaction is always, always priceless.

9. Random clothing (neon, costumes, etc.)

You never know when an obscure article of clothing you have may be of perfect use. I always recommend bringing anything neon, anything funny and ridiculous, and any Halloween costumes you’ve compiled from over the years. My best friend wore a complete (including the wig) Troy Bolton circa High School Musical costume during our talent show. I wore an insane red velour jumpsuit every time I had the chance to during my last summer along with a tutu. Those camp memories are invaluable.

Hannah comes from a generations-old family tradition of camping in Maine, and is herself an alum of a Maine Camp Experience member camp. Hannah graduates from high school this summer, and will be attending Brown University in the fall.

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“I greatly enjoyed speaking with Laurie (Guide at Maine Camp Experience). Thanks to her guidance, ideas and suggestions we truly feel that our ultimate choice is the right one for us. We can trust that our seven year old daughter will have a wonderful summer!”

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