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5 Ways to Stay Organized at Summer Camp: Camp 101

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Hey, Camp Parents!

Staying organized can be a challenge for adults, and it’s no different for young campers. Imagine your child is at summer camp, and it’s time for the long hike into the woods. 

The sunscreen and insect repellent are somewhere, but they just can’t find them in their bag or on the floor. All the other kids are walking toward the trailhead. It’s time to go, so they leave without it, and when the counselor asks whether everybody remembered to put on sunscreen and insect repellent, they’re too embarrassed to do anything other than stay silent.

Your child will be more likely to enjoy their time at summer camp, and you’ll feel more confident about their time away from home if you help them to avoid situations like this.

We’ve developed five tips for staying organized at summer camp. These are easy to do, and don’t require you or your child to be a summer camp expert!

1. Do as Much Camp Preparation Ahead of Time as Possible.

Begin making lists and shopping months ahead of time to make sure you have your bags, lists and labels finished with plenty of time to spare. If you need a trusted guide for all your camp preparation questions, make sure to check out our Summer Camp Handbook.

Remember the time you were upset with your child for waiting until the last minute to do that homework assignment? This is an excellent chance to model the benefits of preparation.

2. Have Organizer Bags, Containers, or Compartments for Camp.

Make it easy on your child to pick out clothes and find other items by using bags, containers, or compartments.

For smaller children and shorter camp stays, you can put each day’s outfit into a separate small bag, like packing cubes. These reusable packing containers make keeping clothes organized so easy for kids. 

When it comes to toiletries, medications, batteries, and anything else that needs to be easily identified, one and two gallon plastic freezer bags make an excellent affordable option you may already have around the house. Even better, you can label these plastic bags with permanent markers.

If you’re planning a lot of camping, we recommend a pop-up soft trunk. Soft trunks feature multiple pockets and compartments to keep clothing and gear neatly organized. 

Take the time to walk through with your child how to best organize their main luggage for camp once you’ve decided everything to pack. This will help them to keep in mind the system they have for remaining organized even if it gets a little messy by the end of camp.

3. Pack as Little as Needed for Camp.

The truth is over-packing for camp is typically the result of parental anxiety. Don’t spend too much time and energy obsessing about being prepared for every possibility and worrying that your child won’t have enough clothes. Younger children in particular won’t care if they end up wearing the same clothes more than once.


Remember, the more stuff your child has to keep track of, the more likely they are to lose something.

4. Label Everything Packed for Camp.

Packed as little as needed? Great, now it’s time for labeling. When you label all the items you send up, your child is less likely to lose them, and there is less of a chance of a dispute between two children about to whom something belongs.

Labeling individual bags is a good idea, too. That will increase the chance the items in each bag, whether toiletries or medicine, will make it back into the right bag when your child is done using them.

5. Send a Checklist to Summer Camp.

Sending a list of everything your camper brought to camp will make it easier for them to pack up when it’s time to leave. 

You can further organize checklist items into categories like: clothing, toiletries, bedding, and personal belongings. This can make the repacking process much smoother for a young camper. The most important thing is to make sure you and your camper both understand each item on the checklist.

Sometimes there are some items your camper won’t have to bring back from camp. Consider making a repacking list that excludes these items that may end up used up or thrown away before it’s time to pack for departure.

Stay Organized and Have Fun at Summer Camp.

Staying organized will help your camper focus on having fun at Summer Camp. Less time trying to find the right clothes or gear, and more time making friends and memories. And as a parent, you won’t have to worry about them accidentally leaving behind any expensive camp gear or their favorite clothing.

We love a win-win like that. As always, thanks for reading and happy camping!


- John, Everything Summer Camp


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