The Summer Camp Counselor Survival Packing List

The Summer Camp Counselor Survival Packing List

May 09, 2020

Being a summer camp counselor is more challenging than most of us think. You need to have high energy, be engaged with the kids, and be a leader throughout. Most importantly, though, you’ve got to be organized.

At summer camp, each day’s different, and you don’t know what issues campers might throw at you. You’re a support, mentor, and friend all rolled into one, so you’re constantly kept on your toes.

So to make sure you bring your A-game to this year’s camp, packing properly beforehand is essential. That’s why we’ve written this camp counselor packing list, so you know you’ve got all the necessities to be the best camp role model possible.


  • 2 pairs of sneakers. Ideally running or hiking shoes (depending on the type of summer camp) for when you’re out supervising activities and tennis shoes for when you’re around camp.
  • 1 pair of flip flops. Essential! They save you having to walk bear foot into the bathrooms.
  • 3-4 pairs of shorts. Make sure they’re loose-fitting and comfortable, with good-sized pockets.
  • 2 swimsuits/shorts. It’s best to check the camp guidelines when it comes to swimwear. Also packing two swimsuits/shorts is a good idea, as you can rotate between the dry and the wet one.
  • 3-4 t-shirts. Camps usually have uniform t-shirts you need to wear while you’re on duty, so just pack a few t-shirts for when you’re relaxing.
  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts. If there are a lot of mosquitoes, then covering your arms in the evening with a loose-fitting shirt can help keep bites to a minimum.
  • 1 pair of jeans / long pants. Good for cooler evenings or any occasions where you need to dress a bit warmer.
  • 1 hoodie or sweat top. Again, for those cooler evenings.  
  • Poncho or waterproof jacket. For the occasional rainy day at camp.  
  • 7 to 14 days of socks and underwear. How much you pack depends on how often you want to do laundry. Also, investing in quality hiking socks is a good idea, as they’re super-fast drying and keep odors to a minimum.
  • 2-3 pairs of pajamas. You’ll want to change out of your camp clothes and into something more comfortable each evening.


  • Take all your regular toiletries. You can either pack travel-sized bottles then buy more throughout your time there, or pack big bottles if you have space, to save you buying more at camp.
  • Sunscreen. Vital. You want a suitable SPF for the weather. Also, consider that you may need to hand out sunscreen to campers when out on hikes and other day activities.
  • Insect repellent. The roll-on variety may be better than the spray, as it lasts a lot longer. In terms of strength, 25% DEET should be fine in most summer camp environments.

Other Useful Items

  • Pillow. Vital for a good night’s sleep and for a sense of home away from home. Check out our backpack the Pillowpak which is the world’s first backpack designed around your pillow, for an easy way to travel with a pillow. Pillowpak is also a great way to store and organize all your personal keepsakes, smartphone and other electronics at summer camp.
  • Fitted sheet. To cover the (possibly very well worn) camp mattress.
  • Towels. It’s wise to pack two towels, so you can rotate between wet and dry.
  • Day bag. Essential for days out hiking, a foldable bag is the best type to use here.
  • Water bottle. Ideally one made of a durable material and with a capacity of around 1 liter.
  • Power block. A good capacity power block will provide plenty of charge for devices taken to camp. It can be particularly useful when trekking, to ensure there’s always enough phone battery to take photos or check maps.
  • Portable speaker. Perfect for a bit of entertainment in the evenings.
  • Pack of cards. Much easier to pack than a board game and a great way to stay entertained.
  • Sunglasses (bring 2 pairs to be on the safe side)
  • Headphones

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