Register for Camp - Camp Thompson Carlisle YMCA

The Ultimate Packing Guide | What am I Bringing?

Welcome to Camp Thompson! We’re so excited you’ve chosen to send your camper to our amazing summer camp program. Making sure your child is properly packed for their camp adventure is important, so we’ve created this ultimate packing guide to help you get ready.


The first step is picking the right bag or luggage for your camper. While duffel bags and suitcases are easy options, a backpack is often best for camp. Backpacks make it simple for kids to carry their own items and keep their hands free for activities. Choose a sturdy, lightweight backpack with enough room for everything on the packing list. Make sure to label all bags with your child’s name.


Camp attire is different than school or home clothes. Be sure to pack older, durable items that can get dirty and even damaged during rugged camp activities. Here are the clothing basics your camper will need:

  • T-shirts – Bring 6-8 short sleeve t-shirts that can be layered under other clothing. Breathable cotton or performance fabrics are best.
  • Long sleeve shirts – Pack 2-3 for cool mornings and nights. Lightweight flannels or performance shirts work well.
  • Shorts – Send 5-6 pairs of shorts in assorted lengths. Lightweight nylon or polyester shorts made for activity are ideal.
  • Pants – Include 2-3 pairs of pants like jeans, sweatpants, or athletic pants for horseback riding, climbing, and cool weather.
  • Pajamas – Comfy pajamas are essential for bedtime. Send a couple sets of pajama pants and shirts or nightgowns.
  • Underwear and socks – Make sure to pack at least 10 pairs of underwear and socks. Synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics help keep feet dry.
  • Jacket – A warm waterproof jacket is a must for rainy days or chilly nights. Look for a lightweight nylon rain jacket or fleece.
  • Swimsuits – Pack 2 swimsuits so your camper always has a dry suit. Rashguard shirts are great for sun protection.
  • Hat – A wide-brim sun hat or baseball cap will shade your camper’s face from the sun.


Proper footwear ensures campers’ feet stay comfortable and injury-free. Here’s what you’ll need to include:

  • Sneakers – Pack 2 pairs of well broken-in athletic shoes for hiking, sports, and all-day wear.
  • Water shoes – Campers need shoes that can get wet for swimming, creek play, canoeing, etc. Choose sport sandals, water socks, or old sneakers.
  • Shower shoes – Simple flip flops work well to wear in the showers and bathrooms.


In addition to apparel, here are some other items your camper should bring:

  • Pillow and sleeping bag – A regular pillow and sleeping bag are needed for the cabin. A sleeping bag rated to 45°F will keep campers cozy.
  • Towels – Pack 2 full size bath, hand and beach towels. Quick-dry sport towels take up less space.
  • Toiletries – Send soap, shampoo, toothpaste, brush, comb, sunscreen, chapstick, lotion, feminine products (for older girls), etc.
  • Water bottle – A reusable water bottle is vital to stay hydrated. Choose a durable plastic bottle that won’t break.
  • Flashlight – A small LED flashlight and extra batteries will come in handy at night. Headlamps are useful too!
  • Garbage bags – Pack a few garbage bags to organize dirty laundry or wet clothes.
  • Sunglasses – Protect your camper’s eyes from the sun with sport sunglasses. Make sure they have UVA/UVB protection.
  • Insect repellent – Non-aerosol bug spray will guard against mosquitos and ticks. Choose repellents with 10-30% DEET.
  • Rain gear – Rain ponchos and jackets are essential for rainy days. Look for lightweight packable styles.
  • Backpack – Your camper should bring a small backpack or cinch bag for day hikes and activities.

While most items are welcome at camp, there are a few things best left at home:

  • Electronics – Cell phones, music players, electronic games and other electronics distract from the camp experience and can get damaged. Leave them at home!
  • Food and candy – Snacks attract wildlife to cabins. Camp provides regular nutritious meals so no need to pack food.
  • Jewelry – Fancy jewelry can get lost or ruined at camp. Leave valuables like these safe at home.
  • Knives, lighters, matches – For safety reasons, pocket knives, lighters and matches should stay home.
  • Money and valuables – There’s no need for cash at camp since all meals and activities are included. Lock up prized possessions at home.

No matter what type of camp your child attends, following this packing guide will ensure they have an amazing experience full of fun and adventure! Let us know if you have any other questions before your camper heads off to camp. We can’t wait for them to make memories that last a lifetime!