Overnight Camp :: What to Pack


While the area might be known for it’s day camps, there are plenty of overnight camps within a few hours (or more) drive. Overnight camp, or better known as sleepaway camp, is full of your traditional outdoor activities, like campfires, hikes, and sometimes the chance to sleep under the stars. Campers come together with kids of similar ages from all over the region. They experience staying away from home and bond over s’mores, swimming, canoeing, skits, and eating cafeteria style with all the other campers. Many camps disconnect from technology completely (yay!) and campers can go old school and write letters home.

Sleepaway camp is exciting — but not so much if your camper forgets the essentials. Each camp will probably provide a detailed list of recommended items, but just in case, we’ve polled our own tweens who’ve already experienced an overnight camp, and here’s what they came up with:


Athletic shorts
Shirts that you don’t care get super dirty (many might not make it home!)
Underwear (1 per day + 2 extras!)
Ball cap
Rain jacket or poncho
Hoodie (it gets cold in the woods at night!)
Pajamas (if you don’t sleep in shorts/t-shirts)
*maybe 1 pair of jeans or heavy duty hiking pants, depending on camp

Bathing / Personal Care

Bath towels (2)
Face towels (2)
Bath caddy or tote
Hair brush / comb
Bath soap

kids playing in water

Swimming necessities

Bathing suit (2 — one to wear, one to dry)
Beach towels (2)
Suncreen — at least 30SPF — sprayable preferable
Swim goggles
Flip flops

Camp Essentials

Backpack or Duffel bag
Sleeping bag
**extra batteries for the flashlight
Book lamp w/clip
Favorite book
Water bottle
Bug spray
Benadryl gel for bug bites
Baby wipes

camping at overnight camp


Bible (church camp)
Picture of family
Notecards and a pen to write letters home (don’t forget to pre-stamp the envelopes!)
Disposable camera


  • Label, label, label. Write your child’s name on EVERYTHING, either in sharpie marker or order awesome labels from Mabel’s Labels. They’re currently running a 20% off sale now for camp specific labels.
  • If your child is the nervous type, create a countdown at home to build excitement! Make a construction paper chain or simply print a calendar and cross the days off.
  • If it’s a quick drive (2 hours or less), you may want to consider driving to the campground itself and having your child look around. If camp is already in session, ask a camp supervisor for a tour. Your child will be confident on day one when they already know where the showers are.
  • Most camps do not let campers have technology, although some may let the kids occasionally call home or video chat. Respect the rules and DO NOT let you child sneak a cell phone or portable gaming device!
  • Write letters or postcards telling your kid(s) how proud you are of them and what a big adventure they’re on! Mail the cards a few days before you deliver them to camp so they get mail on the first day.
  • Don’t worry! Overnight camp just means your kids are growing up and being more independent. Good job, Mama!

No matter what they pack (or forget!), they’ll create memories that last a lifetime!

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Sabrina is not a Memphis native, but 901 is definitely her home. She works in accounting at one of Memphis’ top engineering firms. She has four kiddos: BP (2009), JP (2010), KP (2011), and IP (2014). She loves Jesus and the 49ers! If the Powe's aren’t on the ball field, you’ll likely run into them at the Memphis Zoo or CMOM! They're also big fans of the Performing Arts. She has been fostering for 5 years and has a passion for helping kids. Her favorite color is orange and she's seen just about every Disney movie made!