The Ultimate Camp Counselor Packing List For Summer Camp in America


The moment when you realise you are actually going to camp hits people in different ways. People might think it is simply when you get placed; posting that status and getting all the likes. Or when you get the email with your seat number for the plane with 24 hours until take off…

But the number one moment, for most people every year, is when you start packing.

Packing can seem a bit scary, what do you even need? Will you have enough stuff? Is there a checklist?

Calm your socks, there is a list and it’s right here. Read on to find what you need plus a few extra tips...

Quick top tips

A hoodie and joggers.

The best piece of advice (or clothing) we 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 cabin will become arctic for the first few nights.

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


Red, white and blue

Pack at least one item which shows off the US national colours as you will definitely need it for July 4th.



Speak with people who have been before. They’re the ones who will know exactly what you need for your camp and will be able to give specific advice.

Returners can be found on your camp’s facebook group and 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 packing 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 British snack, such as Cadbury's Dairy Milk or Percy pigs. You won't have access to these again until you come home.

  • 1 x Photo from home




  • We recommend having a small amount of GBP 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 British 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. Our team members here and been to camp themselves, numerous times, so will have invaluable advice and answers for anything you might be wondering about.


Related Blogs

Start your American summer camp adventure today
Apply now