Travel and Lifestyle

The Ultimate Camp Counsellor Packing List


The Ultimate Camp America Packing List

June 2017, marks 3 years since I hopped on a plane to New York to begin the best summer ever, teaching arts and crafts at an American summer camp. For me, this summer really was an unforgettable experience and chances are, that if you’re reading this, you are almost ready to start your adventure (how exciting)! When it came to pre-camp preparation everything seemed to go extremely smoothly for me from obtaining my working visa to receiving disclosure. However, whilst recently reminiscing  on my Camp experience, I vividly remember freaking out when it came to packing my case. I mean, ONE case for three months, I usually take that for a 7 day holiday! I had so many questions like should I pack for hot weather? Cold weather? What about formal wear? Nights out? And what about post camp travel? I was also undecided as to what I should take with me versus what I should simply buy upon arrival. So today I thought I would create “The Ultimate Camp Counsellor Packing List” for anyone who’s currently in the same predicament – I know that I definitely would have appreciated this to set my mind at ease. From the absolute essentials to the optional extras, I’m pretty sure I’ve included everything you need in this little post. So here goes…


The Ultimate camp america packing list

The Essentials.

First things first – the absolute essentials – after all if you forget some of these itmes you may not be going anywhere! I would also recommend keeping these safe, together in some sort of travel folder wallet, folder or even a polly pocket – that way you are sure not to lose anything.

  • Passport
  • J1 Visa
  • Driving License – this can be super handy for camp nights out if you don’t fancy carrying your passport around with you. This is also an essential if you plan on driving whilst at camp / during your post camp travels.
  • Plane tickets.
  • Camp America confirmation letter.
  • A copy of your camp address and travel arrangements.
  • Dollars / Currency Card, if opting for a currency card, I would wholeheartedly recommend Revolut – it’s super easy to use and has the best rates!

My best piece of advice clothing wise? Don’t pack anything you don’t mind getting dirty. Whilst I would totally recommend bringing along a few nice items for nights out / camp dances and post camp, when it comes to camp attire I would suggest heading to somewhere like Primark and picking up a bunch of cheap shorts / leggings / T-shirts etc that you can wear daily and potentially chuck away afterwards. Throughout your time at camp you will quickly realise that NOBODY cares what you are wearing so don’t worry too much about that!  Note – your clothing requirements may vary depending on your role at camp e.g. horse riding and climbing instructors may need to pack additional equipment accordingly. As an arts and crafts teacher this didn’t really apply to me, so I thought I would share my “basic” packing list to give you a rough idea of the essentials.

  • 6-8 x Tshirts
  • 6-8 x Vests / camis
  • 1 x light cardigan or sweatshirt
  • 2 x Hoodies
  • 2 x Leggings
  • 1 x Joggers
  • 1-2 x pairs of jeans
  • 4 x pairs of shorts
  • 2 x pairs of pyjamas
  • 1 x Bikini (for days off and showering)
  • 1 x One piece swimsuit – this is required to be worn at most camps – especially if you are lifeguarding.
  • 1 x cap
  • 1 x light jacket ( for nights out etc)
  • 3 x Nice outfits / dresses for nights out and days off.
  • 1 x waterproof jacket.
  • 1 x set of “tic proof” clothing – as most camps are situated in the middle of the woods it is quite likely that you will encounter a few creepy crawlies during your time as a counsellor. For days spent exploring in the woods or for chilling around the campfire, “tic proof” clothing (long trousers and a long sleeve top) is super handy for avoiding bites.
  • 2 x pairs of trainers
  • 1 x pair of flip flops
  • 1 x pair of crocs (yes, crocs. They may be ugly, but man are they practical – especially at camp!)
  • 2 x pair of nice sandals / heels for days off and nights out.



Below I have whipped up a quick list of toiletries that I would advise packing. However, with this being said, I would suggest only packing travel sizes of things like shampoo etc as they are super cheap to pick up upon your arrival and can take up a lot of unneeded space within your case. At the very bottom of this post I have created a full list of items which I would recommend holding off on until you arrive.

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Suncream
  • Wet Wipes / makeup wipes.
  • Hairbrush
  • Skincare
  • Deodorant – if your prefer sprays to roll ons I would suggest stocking up on these prior to heading out as aerosol deodorants are pretty hard to come by in the US!
  • 2 Towels – one big, one small.


  • Camera – Personally, I would recommend taking a digital camera over a film camera. Although I love the effect that film cameras can have, the film can sometimes be damaged as it passes through airport security airport machines.
  • Wrist Watch – Whilst at camp, keeping track of time is of the utmost importance. Classes and meals tend to run like clockwork therefore a watch is an absolute must have!
  • Power Adaptors – Whilst in the US I found it quite tricky – and pricey to pick up international chargers, so remembering your international chargers and adaptors is key.
  • Headphones – These can be handy for listening to music during your break times / during post and pre camp travel.
  • Torch – Having a torch on hand can be super useful, especially for late night trips to the bathrooms.
  • Electrical Chargers – For cameras, phones, ipods etc.
  • Prepaid American SIM cards / credit – these ensure that you don’t rack up any crazy phone bills! These can also be avoided by turning off your mobile data roaming upon arriving in the US.


The Ultimate camp america packing list


Additional Items
  • Journal – Writing a journal whilst at camp can be an awesome way of documenting your experience. Having a journal handy is also great when organising your post camp travel!
  • Home Comforts – Personally I packed photos – to decorate my cabin space with and chocolate because – duh.
  • Phone
  • Books – for reading during rest hour / when falling asleep.
  • Medications
  • Makeup – for camp nights out and post camp travel.
  • Hairdryer


What should I pick up upon arrival?
  • Shampoo / shower gel / conditioner / suncream.
  • Water Bottle – hydration is key during busy camp days!
  • Towels – one big and one small.
  • Pillow and blanket ( your camp will most likely provide you with these already but sometimes it can be nice to buy your own, after all you will be sleeping there for the entire summer).
  • Snack Box (plastic tupperware). Whilst living in the middle of the forest it is pretty inevitable that you will have a few visitors. However, you can keep squirrels and chipmunks etc at bay by storing your sweet treats and snacks in a sealed plastic tupperware box.
  • Shower Caddy – here you can store all of your toiletries and personal items that you will need to take to the shower block. These can be purchased for around $1 and are super handy!


I hope that you enjoyed my take on “The Ultimate Camp America Packing List” and that it has eased your packing woes. I know that I definitely could have used something like this whilst prepping for my time in the US. And remember, if you happen to forget something along the way, it’s not the end of the world – try not to sweat the small stuff. Get ready for the best summer of your life!

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