With the first day of summer camps across America approaching, it's important that camp counselors are prepared to take on the challenges of working with a group of kids for the summer. Here is a list of things all camp counselors should have in their bag.

1. A refillable water bottle

As much as you tell your kids to grab a drink of water throughout the day, you should be, too. One of my coworkers always says, "Thirst is the first sign of dehydration." She even turns it into a game with her group to motivate her kids and other counselors to drink more water.

2. A deck of cards

This comes in handy when you have a stretch of time with nothing to do. This will get your kids connected to each other and engaged. Here are more tips on how to keep your kids engaged.

3. Sunglasses / hat

Give yourself extra protection from the sun. Before the season starts, I always run to a dollar store and buy at least three pairs of sunglasses. In the chaos of camp, anything can get lost or broken. If it does? It's not the end of the world because they're from the dollar store. This multi-pack on Amazon is another cheap alternative.

4. Sunscreen

I can't tell you how many kids last summer needed to borrow my sunscreen because they either forgot their sunscreen at home or ran out. Some kids don't even think about needing to reapply throughout the day, but they do. I always have a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen in my bag at the ready. It's just as important for counselors to reapply, too.

5. Pens/pencils

While taking attendance, writing down lunch orders, and generally keeping track of campers, it helps to keep a few writing utensils. Depending on the age of your campers, colored pencils and extra pencils help for doing crafts and drawing during downtime.

6. A backup towel

I can't tell you how many times I've left my towel at home, dropped it in a puddle, or a camper on their first day didn't know they needed one. I keep a smaller towel in the bottom of my bag just in case.

7. Baby wipes

Keeping this in my bag made my job so much easier! From sticky popsicles to muddy tug-o-wars, having a pack of baby wipes makes everyday cleanups more convenient and easier for all involved.

8. A poncho

Rain ("liquid sunshine" at my camp) happens when it wants to in the summer. Be prepared so that you can keep a focus on your kids and not your soaking wet shorts.


Being a camp counselor is hard work, so make sure you're prepared and put your best foot forward for your camp kids.

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