Day Camp Essentials

At this point, we’re pretty seasoned shoppers and packers for day camp around here.

Some things we got lucky and stumbled into the first year or two, and others, we’ve struggled through years of wrong purchases to finally get to the right place, so I thought I’d share what works best for us since it’s the time of year to register for camp and start shopping {I put that big packet of paperwork in the mail this week with a sigh of relief!}.

A great water bottle is a must for day camp.  It’s got to be able to take a lot of abuse, including a good scrubbing from Mom at the end of the day.  We’ve tried Sigg, Klean Kanteen and a host of others, but our hands down top choice is Camelbak.  The “Big Bite” spout truly ensures no leaks or spills {you have to actually bite the straw while sucking to get liquid out}, and the whole thing easily attached to a carabiner clip if your backpack doesn’t have side pockets.  Most importantly, it’s BPA and Phthalate-Free and dishwasher safe.

That cute pink water bottle up there?  That brings me to my next piece of advice:  buy all the same for everyone in your house!  We started our camping adventures with assigned colors for each child.  That’s all well and good until it’s a morning we’re running late, or a favorite color is left in the van.  Now I just stock up on all the same size and color, and slap a label with our last name on all of them.  It’s all part of my “you get what you get and don’t get upset” philosophy.  There are many other times and places where my girls get customized, individualized choices and care; this just ain’t one of them.

For our camp, The Cuties, have to schlep two full-sized towels, bug spray, sunscreen, a spare pair of underwear and a second bathing suit each day, in addition to the one they wear in the morning.  They also often like to slip a book in the front pocket for the bus ride there and back.  Backpacks at camp take way more abuse than school backpacks ~ they’re rarely inside, and at some point in the summer there’s sure to be a sunscreen accident.  The biggest issue, however, is that wet towels, crammed in the bottom of a backpack for many hours at a time just is not a good thing.  So after a lot of searching, we finally found these mesh backpacks from Jansport and they are PERFECT!

To help with the drying and keeping track of four bathing suits parts throughout the day {The Cuties prefer tankinis under their shorts and tees for camp as it makes bathroom stops fast and easy}, each girl has a wet bag in her backpack.  Ours are a few years old from a kids’ catalog that no longer sells them, but Etsy always has TONS for sale, or you can easily make one yourself.  The wetbag is also a way to help corral the 4 pieces of bathing suits throughout the day.

Towels are really the last component to summer camp.  I started off buying the cheapest things I could find with the thought that they’d be semi-disposable after a summer of being dragged around in the dirt.  However, I got what I paid for and those didn’t even make it through the first session of camp.  So back to the drawing board I went.  In my experience, TJ Maxx or Marshalls are the best places for camp towels.  They have cute designs, and thick beach towels that can last several summers and almost daily washing.  They’re also reasonably priced, and with two campers, needing two towels, each day, I still like to give myself a “laundry buffer” of one day in case of evening chaos.  But that means we need at least 8 towels just dedicated to camp!

So that’s what I’ve got for you.  What about you?  What words of wisdom do you have?


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