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What You Really Need (And Don't Need) for Summer Camp

By Heath

The sky is clear. Your bags are packed. It’s time for summer camp! There is nothing quite like the excitement of going to camp for the first time. However, often being caught up in that excitement means forgetting a few things. On top of your clothing and basic toiletries, the following items are absolutely essential for campers to make it through a week filled with worship.


  • Sunscreen – It’s summer, which means kids will be getting plenty of sun. Don’t just send them with a bottle. Make sure they know how and when to apply it.
  • Bug Repellent/Ointment – With the warm weather, the bugs will be running rampant. It’s difficult to have fun outside when you have an itch. For those pesky critters that do bite, bring some bug bite relief cream. You packed toothpaste, right? Dab a little on a bug bite for instant relief!
  • Writing Supplies – You may want to take notes during worship time or send a letter home to tell your family about summer camp. Pack plenty of pens, pencils, and a notebook.
  • Sleeping Bag – Find out beforehand if linens are provided or not at your camp’s property. For most camps, lodging consists of bunkbeds, meaning kids will have to bring blankets and sheets. A sleeping bag can fit nicely on top of the bed without taking up room while traveling.
  • Umbrella/Poncho – It may be summer but that doesn’t always mean there won’t be rain. Since you never know exactly how the weather will play out, it’s better to be safe than soaked!
  • Swimsuit/Beach Towel – It’s hot out there! Even if the property doesn’t have a lake or swimming pool, most summer camps have a ton of water activities to cool down.
  • Reusable Water Bottle – Beat the heat by staying hydrated with plenty of water.
  • Shower Caddy – You have your essential toiletries (i.e. soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush) but don’t know how to carry them all. That is where a shower caddy comes in handy!
  • Flashlight – Most summer camps have a lot of outdoor activities, like bonfires, even at night. You don’t want to be stuck walking around in the dark!
  • Money – Who doesn’t want a snack from the vending machines or souvenir from the gift shop?
  • Bible – The most important item of all! You will definitely need a Bible since worship services, devotionals, and solo prayer times are a key part of summer camp.


  • Clothing with offensive language and/or images
  • Valuable jewelry
  • Expensive electronic devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming systems)
  • Large sums of money as it could be lost or stolen
  • Pets


Do you have everything but the kitchen sink? Even with a checklist for what to bring and not bring to your summer camp, some people might not know how to actually pack their belongings for a week! We are here to help. You should consider packing outfits together for each day so you don’t have to dig around other clothes in your suitcase or bag. It is also best to roll your clothes instead of folding them to have more space for other items.

When it comes to recreation, pack accordingly. Throw in an extra shirt and shorts if you plan on working up a sweat or taking a dip in the pool. It’s additionally helpful to ask about the requirements for adventure recreation. Odds are there will be a dress code to ensure safety of participants. High ropes obstacles, group initiatives challenges, rock climbing, and zip lining are nothing you want to miss out on.

As it is time to head home, make sure you have all your belongings by sticking the checklist inside your suitcase. If you are still wondering what you should bring for summer camp, communicate with your event planner or the property you will be staying at. For Christian Retreats Network, click here to download a full checklist of what you should bring to make the most out of your retreat.

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