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Don’t Leave Home Without It: Little Things to Bring to Camp

Tags All Camps Camp Brookwoods Camp Deer Run Moose River Outpost

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Guest Author: Susan Bradley Arico, Deer Run Alumna & Camp Mom

Sure, you’ve seen the camp packing list on the website or the camper registration packet. You know how many pairs of shorts and underwear to send with your kid; you’ve got the toothbrush and bug spray covered.

But what about the inside scoop? What does the list not say that the kids are actually pondering and plotting?

We have all four of my kids (ages 10, 11, 13, and 15) going to camp this year, and together we brainstormed a list of things they wouldn’t leave home without.

Without further ado, here’s what our kids came up with!

  • Battery powered fan: Because the bunks and cabins get stinking hot.
  • Thin fleece blanket: Because sleeping bags get hot at night, but you still want something covering you.
  • A few fun small dress-up things Like a Hawaiian lei, goofy oversized sunglasses, a bandana, or stick-on mustaches. You never know when you might need something random for a contest, game, (or slow rest hour!)
  • Mini backpack (like a drawstring sports bag): To carry items between activity periods like your water bottle, sweatshirt, etc.
  • Thin swim towel: Because regular towels are thick and usually don’t dry overnight!
  • A watch: Because you want to leave your 3rd period activity as early as possible to get to the blob and tubing lines!
  • Crazy Creek chair: Because there’s a lot of sitting and they’re so easy to carry around. (And cabin devotions are fun, but the wood floor is rock hard!)
  • A mail folder to organize your letter-writing: Your parents (and maybe grandparents) expect to get some mail from you! Bring a list of addresses you need, plenty of envelopes and stamps, and letter-writing paper. Or even pre-address the envelopes before you go!
  • Plenty of pencils: Letter-writing and journaling is a real thing, people! Pens aren’t as good because you can’t erase them.
  • Sleep Mask: This helps when you’re tired and the lights aren’t turned out yet (or the counselors are still up, or your neighbor’s using a flashlight.
  • Washi Tape: For putting up pictures or letters from parents. This is fun and makes your cabin look cool. It’s like blue painters’ tape but has other designs and peels easily off the walls. The counselors will tell you if the kind you brought is OK to use.
  • Sunglasses: For hikes and the swim beach
  • A set of really old clothes: Things you can wear in the mud pit and don’t care how bad they get.
  • Stuff for rest hour: It’s good to have a plan so you don’t get bored. Mad Libs, crosswords or word searches, or books you haven’t read yet.
  • Small plastic spray bottle: To take on the hike and cool you down!
  • Polaroid camera: if you have one, bring it! It’s so fun to take pictures with friends, counselors and LDPs.

This is, of course, just one family’s set of ideas and preferences. Every family (and every camper) will ultimately have their own!

The community at camp – from campers to counselors to administrative staff – are resourceful and generous-spirited. Even if kids find themselves without something they need (or wish they had), they will be A-OK.

Editor’s Note: If you are looking for branded camp gear, please check out the online camp stores for Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost.

Susan Bradley Arico is a consultant, writer and screen coach. She was a Deer Run camper from 1986-1991 and was on staff in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Her husband York was also on Brookwoods staff. The Aricos now reside in Connecticut. You may contact Susan, or view more of her writing on her blogInstagram, or Facebook.


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