Camp is one of those places where you feel at home, where an adventure is steps away and where a smile never really leaves your face.
Being a camp counselor is the best job you’ll ever have. Hands down.
There’s something about waking up in the morning and loving what you do. In every sense of the word. There’s something about being surrounded by kids who look up to you unabashedly and that think you’re the coolest person they’ve ever met.
There’s something about swimming and laughing and playing and creating and making and loving and jumping and running and dancing and laughing some more.
I work at a camp in Maine and you can read about that here. But, I have to admit that I was completely lost when I found out I had gotten the job. What do they wear? What should I expect? Do we decorate our own cabins? There were so many questions that wouldn’t be answered until I got to camp, but I figured I’d write about my packing list to make it a bit easier for everyone.
The camp I work at employs us from mid June until the beginning of September so I need to pack enough to last me 2 months, barring small shopping trips. Since I’ll be flying up, I’m limited as to what luggage I can bring. I will be bringing a backpack for my carry-on and 2 suitcases as my checked bags.
My backpack is a Thule Enroute Backpack.
- My Phone with charger
- Wallet with necessary ID’s, check with your Program Director as to what you’ll need for paperwork
- Extra pair of clothes and swimsuit, just in case
- Books for downtime, I suggest “A House In The Sky” and “All The Light We Cannot See“
- My Macbook
- Pressure Reducing Earplugs – I have terrible ear pain on flights
As for my suitcase, I have the tried and true Samsonite luggage. It’s the perfect size, it’s durable and it’s been to 10 countries with me.
If you’re more interested in just bringing one large backpack worth of stuff, I have a great High Sierra Appalachain 75L that holds everything that I need, barring linens. Your camp might specify that they provide linens, so just ask!
When it comes to clothes, comfort takes precedence over everything. You will be running, dancing and composing absolute tom-foolery, so looking good kind of goes out of the window. Think about what you wear to work out in when no one is looking, now think a little grungier and you’re pretty much there.
My luggage packing list goes a little like this:
- 6 T-Shirts
- 5 Running Shorts
- 5 Yoga Pants for sleeping, exercising, etc.
- 3 Crazy patterned leggings-look here for some ideas
- 5 Tank Tops- make sure to find out if there’s a dress code regarding tank top strap thickness
- 1 Rain Coat
- 1 Pair Rain Boots
- 2 Pairs of Tennis Shoes
- 2 Pairs of Flip Flops
- Shower Shoes (an old pair of flip flops work perfectly)
- Undergarments, enough for at least 2 weeks
- Socks (mixed thickness, it can be really hot and pretty cold)
- Sweatshirts-it can get down to 50 degrees at night in Maine
- Ben’s Bug Wipes-so much easier than a spray
On to toiletries. Keep in mind that you may or may not have access to shopping during the summer so make sure you know how much of each you should pack. At my camp, there’s a Walmart about 10 minutes away so a few people don’t pack any toiletries and just buy them all when they get there. Up to you.
- DEODORANT, you may or may not shower for 4 days at a time
- Room Spray becomes a necessity especially in the boy’s cabins
- An abundance of hair ties
- Shampoo/Conditioner- there are some really great biodegradable ones if you will be bathing in lakes or rivers
For your cabin, find out what the living conditions will be like. Typically, we stay in a cabin with 3-10 campers depending on age and we have a dresser and a bed to ourselves. While my camp provides bedding, especially for International counselors, I prefer to bring a few things of my own. Most counselors bring their own pictures and decorations from home to showcase who they are and their interests. Contact counselors that have worked there before to get a lay of the land! I will be bringing:
- 1 Comforter
- 1 Sheet Set
- 2 Pillows
- 2 Tapestries
- Pictures From Home-it’s always a nice reminder
- 2 Strands of Christmas Lights-it definitely helps if you have really young campers who might still be afraid of the dark or for “flashlight time”
Obviously each camp is different and depending on where you’re located will adjust what kind of clothes you’ll be wearing but this is just a basic guideline for those embarking on counselor-ing for the first time.
Enjoy your summer!