Things Campers Really Need for Overnight Camp

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Ready to start shopping for overnight camp? Most residential summer camps provide detailed and specific packing lists of what campers will need to bring, but there are a few items that are constant no matter where you send your kids to camp. Even if you are still in the early stages of deciding when and where your kid will go, you are going to need these essential items for an overnight camp in California and possibly outside of California as well. No need to wait for that specific packing list. You are going to get use out of all these items no matter where your kid goes this summer!


A High-Quality Water Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated, particularly in warm weather and when doing sports and outdoor activities. The best water bottles for an overnight camp in California, are ones that are easy to frequently clean and refill. For this reason, we favor clear perspex water bottles with wide mouth openings. This allows your camper to see what is in the bottle, and be assured it has been rinsed and cleaned between uses. Although straw style and insulated bottles are nice for ease of sipping and keeping drinks cold, they are more difficult to clean and refill frequently which could lead to disuse and illness. Catalina Island sells water bottles in their camp store, or you can bring your own to camp. It’s a great idea to let your kid pick out their favorite water bottle and get used to filling and using it even before they get to camp!


Easy-to-Apply Sunscreen

The key to summer camp sunscreen compliance by your kids is picking sunscreens that are easy for them to apply frequently. Sprays are a great choice for whole-body application but don’t forget to include options for lips, ears, and noses as well. Most kids like “fun” choices like Zinka which is applied like face paint. If your kids are headed to overnight camps in California, it’s never too early to start stockpiling sunscreen to send them off with.



No matter where your kids go to camp (or school for that matter) you will want some labels to help them hang onto their water bottles, sunscreen, and all their other important stuff. Peel and stick vinyl labels that can withstand multiple washings are a great choice for items from clothes to luggage. Get your kid involved with picking out and designing their camp labels, as well as applying them to their belongings. This will give them an additional sense of ownership and they will be faster to spy their own things when they are familiar with their own labels and labeling.


Stationary and Writing Implements

Stationary and writing implements feel incredibly old-fashioned in the digital age but odds are that wherever your kids go to camp, they will have less access to the internet and cell phones than they or you are used to. Even if they are still in touch via these methods, it’s a good idea to encourage them to write an old-fashioned letter. What parents would not be thrilled to get a news-filled letter from their kid who is at overnight camp in California? Campers at Catalina Island Camps are encouraged to write home to parents and the staff recommends sending kids with pre-addressed and stamped envelopes for mailing.


Fun and Games

Even the most action-packed overnight summer camps in California are sure to have some downtimes. During quiet time in the bunk, campers will want their own reading material to read and games to share with cabin mates. Now is a great time to start collecting card games, dice games, travel-sized versions of your kid’s favorites and some books they might enjoy reading. Fun ideas include coloring books, comic books interactive group style journals and activity books like Mad Libs and “Coke or Pepsi” style books. Uno, “Would You Rather” and Yahtzee are camp classics.


Catalina Island Camps

Looking for other ways to prepare to send your kid to overnight camp? Catalina Island Camps has a Preparing for Camp FAQ. If you’re still unsure about what overnight camp in California you want to send your child to, look into Catalina Island Camps’ activities and programs.