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Camp Counselor Packing List For Summer Camp in America

Given up packing for the 10th time to binge watch Netflix? We got you.

Author: Camp Leaders
25 Oct 15:21

Wandering through the shop, I looked down at the empty mesh basket and I realised I didn't have a clue. What on earth do I pack? What will I need? I'm actually going to be working at a summer camp in America and all I've currently picked up is a terrible t-shirt, with terrible band slogan, that I don't need, don't like… so will 100% be packing “just in case”.

Later as I sat, looking in horror at the mountain of clothing that I had tipped on the floor I wish I knew what to expect and in all honesty, wished my mum would come and pack it for me.

But have no fear. I packed. I conquered and so will you.

If you whiz down the page you will see a handy packing list from the Guru’s in the office. They are the absolute pros of packing. But before we dive in - here’s my top tips for things to throw into that suitcase or backpack.

Top tip #1 - A hoodie and joggers.

The best piece of advice (or clothing) I could ever give someone is to take some warm, comfortable favourites. It’s going to be very cold in the evenings when the sun disappears, you’ll find the temperature drops and your cabins become arctic in the first few nights.

As the summer heats up those joggers become your nightly go to, forget those nice outfits - it’s going to be bug repellant, cosy and comfortable - trackie bottoms are the most fashionable item on camp!

Top tip #2 - Red, white and blue.

During camp you are going to need loose, comfortable clothing that you aren't afraid to get ruined. A mixture of fun, sun, dirt and mass washing machines really does mean that your everyday wear is going to look a little worse for wear!

Cheap and cheerful is the answer. Make sure you have your shorts packed and don’t forget your sneakers (get used to it now!). As these a combination of these will make your daily outfit.

Pack at least one item in AUS/US red, white and blue as you will definitely need it for July 4th!

Top tip #3 - Returners.

My last top tip is to speak with people who have been before. They are the ones who will know exactly what you need and will be able to give advice to the bits and bobs that may not have crossed your mind - for example at my camp there are nightly football (soccer) games for the staff and we let the gang know that it’s a good idea to bring your own boots, or deliberately forget them.. ​ Returners can be found on your camp’s facebook group, if you are struggling to find them - speak to your camp director, who will be able to point you in the right direction.

Time for the list.

  • 2 x Pair of trainers - You will be in “sneakers” every single day. Think comfortable shoes for activities both indoor and outdoor. You'll need to pack some that you don't mind getting a little ruined.

  • 1 x Pair of casual shoes - We would suggest some nicer shoes to wear when out and about - again nothing fancy, just some cleaner trainers will do.

  • 3 x Shorts or leggings - Sports shorts will definitely be needed for those hot Summer days. You will be living in those shorts - so make sure you like them.

  • 2 x Pair of swimwear - No doubt, you will go in the water at some point. A lot, probably. So make sure to pack a swimming costume (one-piece) or board shorts. Some camps have rules regarding bikinis and speedos, so save those for your post-camp adventures.

  • 5 x T-shirts - These tees will be ones you don't mind getting muddy. Your camp might have a uniform, so check in as you might not need to pack so many of your own.

We also have some very snazzy CL tees. That bright blue is hard to miss, so perfect to wear when boarding your flight to find the gang.

  • 1 x Warm hoodie - See top tip number one - For those chilly nights once the sun goes down.

  • 1 x Pair of jeans - For wearing on your days off or any rainy days when you're exploring the States!

  • 7 x Pair of underwear / socks - A week's worth should be enough, as you'll have access to washing facilities.

  • 1 x Pair of flip-flops - For pool-side strolling.

  • 3 x Pair pyjama


Pack enough for your first week and then you can always pop over to Wal-Mart for bigger bottles. So we're talking travel-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, toothpaste, deodorant and sunscreen.

Don't forget your toothbrush.

With bug spray - it’s best to buy it out there, the bugs seem to be pretty immune to anything non-US, so unless you want to be bitten up - invest in some on your first camp shop.

(If you require to take medication, please ensure you have the appropriate level of medication with you, and/or advise with your camp if you will need to replenish this stock of medication whilst in the U.S.A.)

Small Essentials
  • 1 x Mobile Phone - you will be able to use your home one on WIFI.

  • 1 x Phone Charger

  • 2 x American Travel Adaptor

  • 1 x Pair sunglasses

Comfort items for the flight; travel pillow, headphones, snacks, books and don't forget to download some good tunes before you leave home, although you'll have some great movies to watch on the flight over.

  • 1 x Camera (selfie stick optional)

  • 1 x Optional Flag (often camps have 'International Day' or times to represent your home country)

  • 2 x Packs of your favourite Australian snacks. You won't have access to these again until you come home.

  • 1 x Photo from home

  • We recommend having a small amount of AUD exchanged into USD ($200) prior to departure, which will help you upon arrival.

  • VISA Travel cards while travelling abroad. This is a great way to store your spending money and not be charged by the banks when withdrawing cash money.

  • Your Australian Passport & J1 VISA

  • Your Certificate of Eligibility DS-2019 form & SEVIS receipt

  • A copy of your 90 day medical insurance policy

  • A copy of your confirmed flight itinerary

  • A copy of your camp contract

  • Any travel tickets for your departure and arrival (train tickets)

There you have it. One turbo list - of course, please add anything extra and speak to those returners… happy packing.

Did you find this list useful? Send us a message on Facebook or pop an email our way to let us know! Please don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our camp gurus if you have any questions.

Camp Leaders
With over 20 years of travel experience, the Camp Leaders team has the answers to almost anything you can think of. We're here to help you sort your ultimate summer - feel free to ask us anything.

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