If you’ve never been to an American summer camp, deciding what to take can be a bit of a guessing game. The kids themselves usually take everything they own, and I mean everything. (They often have their luggage shipped to camp.)
Unfortunately, when you’re trying to cram three months’ worth of stuff into a 22k luggage allowance and 70oz backpack, you just don’t have this luxury.
Most camps will provide you with a packing list of camp essentials. However, if you’re like me and get your camp placement 5 days before your flight, knowing what to take can be a challenge.
I ended up trolling through countless blogs, trying to work out what I needed to pack. It can also depend on what your plans are after camp. If you intend to travel (which is one of the most exciting parts!) I would recommend keeping these plans as open as possible, so you don’t end up missing out, which can also make packing even more difficult.
In the end, the blogs offered some good and bad advice. Wall-Mart really did become my live saver, and there are a lot of things that you can pick up when you arrive. However, there are some things I really wish I hadn’t taken.
My main advice for the camp would be to take comfy clothes you can do lots of activities in like comfy material shorts and t-shirts. Then you want nice clothes to wear on evenings, nights out and for whatever your travel plans are for after camp. The tricky thing comes with the camp diet, and this can really go one of two ways. I’ve never known anyone go to camp and stay the same weight. People either put on a few pounds or lose a few. So make sure your clothes are a range of sizes as when it came to travelling, I struggled with some of the clothes I couldn’t fit into anymore!
I also regretted taking hiking boots even though we did some hikes at camp and after in Yosemite. They weren’t worth the hassle. You could easily get away with some comfy trainers.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Here is my ultimate camp America packing list:
Camp America packing list:
-Backpack – probably the most crucial, some people do take suitcases, but I’m so thankful for my backpack. I really would have struggled both at camp and travelling afterwards, trying to drag a suitcase up some of the dirt trails. (Don’t be that person)
– Hand luggage bag – I went for a standard handbag, but some people were happy doing the front and back backpacks.
– Visa – pretty crucial if you want to get into the country
– Money – I got a travel money card from the post office and took 200 in cash
– Insurance documents
– First-aid Kit – I never travel without one
– Watch – That’s what phones are for, right? Well, many camps don’t allow you to have phones on you, and you are constantly going to need to know what time you need to be where.
– Towel – I took two, and I’m so glad one to shower one for beaches.
– Torch – this one really was a lifesaver if your camp is very rural. Mine didn’t have lights in many places, so I don’t know what I would have done without it.
– Portable charger – if you find yourself camping at any point, this is ideal
– Day time backpack – to carry everything around with you during the day
– Night out bag
– Sandals with backs
-Comfy trainers/ converse
– Flip flops
– Swimming costume/bikini x2
– Sports clothes
– Multi-coloured tops
– 3 comfy shorts
– Nice shorts
– Night out clothes
– Travel-sized shampoo, conditioner & body wash
– After sun
– Dry shampoo
– Tampons – crazy expensive in America
– Notebook & Pen – sounds retro, I know but can be so useful, especially if camps have a no technology policy
– Camera – yes, phones are great, but the battery dies very quickly. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just chucking a disposable camera in your bag, and you can end up with some great souvenirs.
– iPad/tablet – A tablet can be super useful from booking flights/accommodation to watching movies.
– Hair bobbles
– Bug spray
– Something from your country
Things to buy when you arrive (Walmart has got you covered)
– Sleeping bag
– American phone
– Water bottle