6 Must-Pack Must-Haves for Your Sleepaway Camper

By Julie Cole

If you’re sending your kids to sleepaway camp this summer, you’ve probably already received the standard camp packing list. But there are a few other essentials that probably didn’t make it onto that list, that newby campers especially will be thrilled to have on hand.

1. Glow Bracelets. These are a great solution for campers who are afraid of the dark—and that can include tweens as well as younger children. Once it’s "lights out” in the bunk, some kids may be left a bit afraid. Send them off with a pack of 50 (just to be on the safe side! And also to provide enough to share). They’re bright enough to give comfort, without being so bright that they’ll bother light-sensitive bunkmates.

2. Spare sleeping bag. Do you have a bed wetter? Camps can actually set up an arrangement that will ensure your child’s privacy around this issue—if you give them some advance warning. Send your child off with two identical sleeping bags, one of which will be kept in the camp office. Each morning when campers head off for breakfast, a staff member can inspect the sleeping bag that’s on your child’s bed. If there’s been an accident, he can replace the wet bag with the dry one. It’s a simple and respectful solution to a potentially embarrassing issue.

3. A notebook. Pack a special notebook that your camper can use at the end of the summer, for jotting down the contact details for new camp friends, and for collecting autographs and messages. This makes a tangible souvenir that your child will enjoy using and reminiscing over for years to come.

4. Spare glasses and/or contact lenses. Yes, these things have a tendency to get lost or misplaced for prolonged periods, and since camps can’t rush your kid out to the nearest optometrist for replacements, spares are the obvious solution. Also be sure to get your kid’s eyes checked before she leaves for camp, so she can enjoy her time away with the clearest possible vision.

5. A headlamp. If you have a kid who likes to read in bed, a headlamp beats any old flashlight by providing hands-free light for your little page-turner. It’s easier to focus on the words on the page if she’s not trying to hold a flashlight at the same time. And it’s a whole lot cooler than your average book light. Spelunking, anyone?

6. Odds and Sods. Don’t forget the bits and pieces that kids think they won’t need at camp—until they get there: nail clippers, safety pins, sticky tape, craft supplies, and a deck of cards. These will come in handy more often than you know!

Julie Cole is a co-founding Mom entrepreneur of Mabel’s Labels Inc. and the mother of six.