The Mid-South's Premier Parenting Resource

overnight camp gear guide
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!

More Great Articles

{MMB Thankful Series} :: When Turning Out the Lights Isn’t Enough
Throughout the month of November and in preparation for Thanksgiving, we are sharing the things that we are thankful for as mothers. We're calling this our "Thankful Series." Our contributor Amanda Parks is mother to 9-month-old Madison, and has several things she just couldn't live without as a first-time mom. As a new mother, I'm […]
It’s Time :: Moms, Let’s Do Better
I have a serious question. (This rarely happens. *wink*) When did it become okay to be late? Maybe I’m old-school or am just imagining it (I’m not.), but it seems these days it’s becoming more and more typical for people to casually stroll into meetings 10-15 minutes late, blow off dinner plans for an hour […]
Veterans Day and Our Kids
My first memories of celebrating Veterans Day are from elementary school. In my tiny hometown of Bruceton, TN, we had an awesome celebration each year to honor veterans in the area. Since our school had kindergarten through 12th grade in the same building, the entire school attended the program. I have such fond memories of the Veterans of […]


Memphis Moms is the Mid-South's premier parenting resource.

Encouraging + Equipping + Empowering moms

We strive to build community by connecting area families to relevant resources, local businesses, digital guides, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!