Ever since I went to a summer camp for the first time, I KNEW that I wanted to be a camp
counselor. I have so many memories of my counselors as kid that always stuck with me.
COVID-19 is trying to kill my buzz though with all of the stay at home stuff. Don’t worry, I really do want everyone to be safe & healthy, but I still am a little sad that my summer of feeling like a grown up child (responsible for a bunch of actual children) may be cancelled 😦
That being said, I always am the type of person to pack in advance and make packing lists wayyyy before I even do things. My start date was supposed to be June 1st this year, but we will see how that goes.
IF I do get the summer that I have been hoping for since I was 8 years old, here is what I am going to bring!!
Alright, so as a camp counselor, this may be the most important thing that you bring with you. This backpack will most likely include everything that you could possibly need throughout the day because you never know if you will have time to run back to your cabin, so here is what I will include in mine everyday!
Sunscreen & Bug Spray
If nothing else, I will always have sunscreen & bug spray with me. Being mostly in the woods, the bugs can be bad. FYI- most of the time, this won’t even be for you. There is always that one camper who forgets to put on bug spray or sunscreen, so it is good to have some on hand.
Pens, Pencils, Highlighters, & a Notebook
Staple items to have around. You never know when you will have a moment of time to journal some thoughts, write down the schedule for the day, or even slip fun notes to your fellow counselors.
Scissors, Bracelet Making String, Envelopes, & Stamps
THIS IS A MUST. At least at my camp, I wouldn’t be caught dead without all of my friendship bracelet making supplies. Envelopes & stamps fun as well or good for homesick campers.
Small Hanging Light
Simply just convenient. You never know what you might need in dark cabins or outside around a camp fire.
This is sometimes overlooked as a camp counselor, but it can be great to have around the fire at night, during clean up projects to motivate campers, and really to switch it up for counselors as well. Get your Disney playlists ready !!
Going to camp without a watch was one of the most difficult things I ever did. DO NOT FORGET THIS. Even if your camp allows counselors to be on their phones during the day, you probably won’t want to bring it everywhere with you, so having a watch is convenient & essential to keep things running smoothly. I stick with simple, relatively cheap, & water resistant for mine.
Pro Tip: Go to the dollar store & buy like 5 pairs because if you are anything like me, you will break them, leave them in the woods, or jump in the lake & lose them forever.
Flashlight &/or Headlamp
Woods can be creepy at night, so I like to carry my own flashlight as well as a couple extra small ones for nervous campers. A headlamp can be very convenient for walking around when you need to carry things to a camp site, to main camp, etc.
Pocket Knife, Lighters, & Matches
This may seem like something that normally you don’t show up with, but these are some of the most useful tools. You do not want to be stuck as the one counselor who doesn’t ever have something to start the fire (speaking of which- make sure you can start a fire).
Crafts, broken bags, holes in shoes, etc. Having a small roll around can never hurt.
Especially after recent situations in the world, you have can never have enough hand sani around. I like having small ones on hand for after making a fire, tending to injuries, or just generally before eating meals.
Great to have around for notes or keeping art projects in one place, but it can also be perfect for making friendship bracelets (got to come prepared).
You truly can never have enough water bottles. I like to use one that is big enough that I only have to fill it up once or twice a day. I tend to fill mine at all meals to stay extra hydrated while being out in the sun all day. If your water bottle has stickers on it, that is also a plus.
Maybe this is just a must because my camp is in Northern Wisconsin, but flannels are a HUGE thing. Most people have many of varying colors and warmth levels. I like to keep one that is relatively thing but still warm in my bag, its nice to have if it gets a little chilly throughout the day. My favorite place to find these is my local thrift store because they tend to be more broken in & softer which is perfect.
I find bandanas super versatile. Use it as a headband, wear it as a colored band when competing in teams, make it into a flag tied to a stick, or whatever else.
Alright, that seems like a TON of stuff, but that is what I like to have around me. I use a heavy duty North Face backpack that I will link here as well. It hold all my stuff & had endured many summers of both going to camp & being a junior counselor.
There are things that you need for sleeping, hanging out on the weekends or during free time, and living at a camp in general that I thought I would include. Some of this a little more self explanatory.
Blanket, Pillow, Sheets, & Sleeping Bag
For sleeping! Obviously. Depending on how your camp works, you may need to bring regular bedding for a more permanent room as well as a sleeping bag for short stays camping or in other cabins. I like using a sleeping bag with flannel lining like the one linked below because even summer nights can get chilly.
Okay, okay; I know what you are thinking. Yes, I am 19 years old & I am bringing a stuffed animal to summer camp, BUT this is actually really useful. First of all, it can be a little reminder of home & second of all, they can be GREAT for homesick campers.
Games, Cards, & Books
These are just fun! Whether you share with your campers or save for down time with fellow counselors, games can be a great way to spend your time. Curling up with a good book while overlooking the lake is one of my favorite pass times.
Laundry Bag & Detergent
Honestly any type of laundry detergent works, but pods are just so easy, so I tend to go with those. As far as a hamper goes, I suggest a mesh bag because it saves more space.
I personally LOVE fanny packs, but I know that they aren’t for everyone. I think they are perfect for team spirit, carrying just a few things around during the day, or fun camp style.
Camp coffee just hits different. I could leave it there, but honestly having your own mug is really convenient. We keep our mugs in the kitchen & they get washed with the rest of the dishes, but they can be a fun way to show off your personality in the mornings.
I really like the idea of a whistle. I have literally no idea if I will use it, but hey, why not?
Memories… duh. Bonus points if it is waterproof.
This can honestly be pretty tricky because summer can be a lot of varying temperatures, depending on where you are from. In Wisconsin, it can range from 40 degrees at night to 100 degrees during the day. Makes packing tough, but here is what I am packing to give you an idea.
Athletic Shorts (5)
Khaki Shorts (2)
We wear these for pick up/ drop off days
Jean Shorts (2)
Nice Shorts (2)
Wear for Church services on the weekends
Also for Church & probably more than I need
Long Sleeve T-Shirt (2)
Tank Tops (4)
Affectionately called “bro tanks”
Athletic Tank Tops (2)
Fleece Quarter Zips (2)
Mine our Eddie Bauer & they are light weight but very warm
Rain Jacket (1)
Jeans/Long Pants (2)
One skinny dark pair & one light mom jeans pair
One black pair & one colored pair
Yoga Pants (1)
One thin pair & one thick pair
Swim Suits (3)
One piece suits are what we wear at Camp Luther
I am bringing 2 pairs of pjs, but typically people just sleep in other t-shirts, sweatshirts, or sweatpants
One brown & one black
Great for sleeping on chilly nights
Warm Hats (2)
Bucket Hat (1)
Baseball Hats (2)
I tend to always overpack on shoes, but I am trying to really only bring what I need this summer. This still means covering all of my different activities though.
These tend to be a fan favorite for camp counselors. Who doesn’t love showing off their cool Chaco tan lines at the end of the summer?? I am bringing two pairs that are a little different styles. They are both double strapped (cause I like the look better), but one has a toe strap & one does not! I will link the styles below as well! These are PERFECT camp shoes. I wear them hiking, kayaking, running around for games, & just lounging around. They truly can be used for any occasion.
Great for by sand (although your Chacos would do great here too)
I am bringing these to wear to church (but a lot of people just wear their Chacos anyways)
These are going to be more for the weekends when I am hanging out in my room relaxing
Sometimes (VERY RARELY) my feet get tired of my Chacos, so I am bringing my birks as well to give my feet a break.
When it rains, sometimes things can get a little muddy (once again, though, Chacos work great in this situation too, but they may just need to be rinsed off later)
Moral of the story here is that if you are only wanting to bring one pair of shoes, you could TOTALLY get by with just a good pair of Chacos
Thank you soooo much for checking out my packing list for this summer as a camp counselor! Hopefully it was helpful, but comment if you have any other packing suggestions & ask any questions that you may have too!