Before I became a teacher, I spent 100 years as a day camp leader. Well, it felt like that, really it was three years as a youth volunteer and another six as a paid leader. I’ll be honest there wasn’t much difference between the two because I was so eager the leaders let me do much of the work well before I was earning a paycheck. I may have a B.Ed in elementary education, but all my training with kids came from these summers. Now as a parent I eager send my kids off to day camps as well. I think it’s awesome to send kids to sleep-away camp, but I am a totally anxious parent, so it’s going to be a few years before you see a post about that.
Here are my MUST have summer day camp supplies for kids as they head off to camp this summer.
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- Labels. For the love of all things holy label your kid’s clothes, shoes, backpacks, and water bottles. Sharpies are great but Mabel’s Labels found at mabelslabels.com are way-way better, and they even have Day Camp Labels that come with bag tags, clothing labels, labels for things like water bottles and shoe labels too! My son goes through 300 water bottles a year and the ones with Mabel’s Labels on them are the ones we recover because those labels STAY where they are put. Sharpies eventually wear off in wet grass, trust me.
- A great water bottle. Make the water bottle SO rad your kid won’t be tempted to forget it. Here are some of my favorites clockwise from the top left: Unicorn Water Bottle, Contigo 14oz water bottles, Kleen Kanteen, Hydro Flask Stainless Steel, Element water bottle, and Camelbak Kids.
- A sturdy lunch box. Cute is fun but what is most important is how it holds up. If your kids are like mine, the one they used for the school year is falling apart and has an odd smell that I am not so sure I want to try to get out. These are the ones I have been drooling over, clockwise from the top left: Yubo Deluxe Firetruck Lunchbox, Ore Original Camping Lunchbox, Olive Kids Mermaid Lunchbox, Eco Lunchbox, and Petite Collage Lunchbox.
- A great ice pack. Lunch boxes may be in the sun all morning, this matters. Not only do you want to keep cold foods cold for health reasons but your kids need to refuel, and that means food needs to be appetizing. Unlike the water bottle and lunchbox, this doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be functional.
- A backpack that your child can and will carry. When I was a day camp leader, we were in 3-5 different locations every day and kids as young as 3 needed to carry their own backpacks. Make sure they fit properly and that the lunch box fits inside easily. These cute ones are just that much more fun. From top left going clockwise: ArcEnCiel Kids Backpack, Under Armour Backpack, Bumblebee Backpack, Aqua Dots, Emojis Backpack, Vehicles Backpack and Zootopia Backpack.
- Comfy clothes and a hat. I have a certain love of all things Hanna Andersson, but the price point for my daughter’s summer clothes is just too high. The summer if the perfect time to be earth friendly and find gently used clothes for your kids to wear to day camp. I have just discovered Schoola, and I am in love with how it all works. You shop for used clothing for your kids this summer, and the school that donated that clothing will get 40% of the proceeds. I love that Schoola is a way for schools to fundraise in an earth-friendly way. Schoola is perfect for families who want to be cognizant of the environment and not spend an arm and a leg for clothing that their kids are going to be climbing trees and painting rocks in. I was shocked at how much selection there is including my favorite; I can get up to 70% off Hanna Andersson at Schoola!
What did I miss that is a MUST have for summer day camp? I can’t wait for my kids to attend this year, they are going to explore engineering, try lacrosse and cheerleading, gymnastics, rock climbing and more. It’s going to be great. They are also going to join in on the fun with our very own summer camp at home – Camp Learn & Play. and the best part is it’s FREE!