Whether summer day camp is right around the corner or a few months away, it’s never too early to start thinking about what essentials to pack in your camper’s backpack. As a parent, you want to ensure your kids have everything they need for a safe and enjoyable experience at their favorite summer day camps! Guess what? You’re in luck! I’ve put together the ultimate list of must-have items for your camper’s backpack, along with some handy tips and recommendations.

This post is in partnership with Banner Day Camp located in Lake Forest, IL. As always, all opinions are 100% honest, my own, and never influenced by anyone. Thank you for supporting local businesses that make TheDanaIvy.com – Real Mom Life possible =)

Because here’s the thing: packing for camp doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little planning and this complete guide, you can ensure your children have everything they need to conquer whatever the summer camp days throw their way. So, let’s dive in and make sure your kiddos are ready for whatever the camp day brings, on the first day of camp and beyond!

A Durable Backpack

Every camper needs to bring a durable backpack to camp that is easily washable and big enough to carry all the things that all the summer day camps require! I recommend a backpack with compartments and especially getting one with a side area for the child’s water bottle so it’s one less thing he or she has to put inside of it!


Opt for a spray sunscreen for ease of application. I swear by a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s gentle on sensitive skin and sprays on clear. Convenient and effective! I keep one on my front porch and spray the kids every morning before the bus comes and then they also keep one in each of their backpacks!

Bug Spray

Bug spray is a MUST if you’re sending your kids to a woodsy camp, which most are! Like we do with sunscreen, I keep one on the front porch and spray the kids every morning before the bus comes and then they also keep a bottle in each of their backpacks!

Reusable Water Bottle

Pack a reusable water bottle your child can easily manage to stay hydrated throughout the day. Leak-proof options can prevent backpack mishaps!

Sun Hat or Baseball Cap

A sun hat or baseball cap is always a good idea to block the sun and add a little extra face protection in the heat.

Rain Jacket

A rain jacket is a must to always have in your child’s backpack! You just never know when there is going to be even the littlest of rain showers in the summer. I like to make sure my kids have a light one so even if it’s hot, they’ll put it on to protect them from getting too wet!

Zip-Lock Bag of Extra Clothes

A change of clothes in a zip-lock bag is a smart backup plan for any unforeseen messes!

Bathing Suit

It’s summer camp!!!!!! You MUST have a bathing suit in order to go swimming! OBVIOUSLY!!

Pool Flip Flops

For many summer day camps, this is optional, but if you ask me, pool flip flops will keep your children’s feet free from cuts and will also catch your child from slipping when the pool locker rooms are wet.

Swim Towel

All summer day camps are different but at Banner, you actually don’t have to bring a swim towel because they will provide one for each camper! It’s a nice perk and less laundry for us mamas. However, in the past Brody liked bringing his own and I was fine with that as long as he was happy!

Swim Bag for Wet Swimsuit

Using a waterproof swim bag for wet swimsuits/towels/dirty clothes is wayyyy better than a zip-lock bag. That’s all.

Hand Sanitizer

I like to buy a small hand sanitizer bottle that attaches to a backpack handle for easy access!!

Flashback to Brody and Levi on their first day at Banner Day Camp 2021!! They are so much older now but are still obsessed with camp!!

Two very important pro tips:

First, you have to make sure your child goes to camp everyday wearing a supportive pair of closed-toe sneakers!! This is ESSENTIAL and will allow your kids to participate in all the fun outdoor sports and activities!

Also, LABEL EVERYTHING!!!!! We love Love It Labels, which is a company started by a local-to-the-Chicago-burbs mama named Sara! She was kind enough to gift us some sheets of labels for Brody, Levi and Demi years ago and years later, I am still very impressed! I can totally attest to their staying power on bottles, clothing tags, and more!

Final Thoughts!

This truly is your ultimate guide to packing your camper’s backpack for a summer of fun and adventure! Remember, be sure to check with your specific camp for any additional requirements or recommendations they have for what to bring in your campers’ backpacks. With a little preparation and this epic guide, you can send your child off to camp with confidence, knowing they have everything they need to make the most of their summer adventure.

And as they return home, full of stories and newfound independence, you’ll be glad you took the time to ensure their camp experience was everything they dreamed of – and maybe even more! So, pack those backpacks and get ready for a summer of unforgettable memories!!!!

Not All Summer Day Camps are Created Equal

I would be remiss not to mention that there are so many wonderful summer day camps out there, but there is something extra special about Banner Day Camp! Not only is Banner my alma mater and what I believe to be the most amazing summer day camp ever, it’s where my boys have gone to camp for 5+ years now and they couldn’t love it more!! Every summer, camp will end, and the boys will come home on the last day only to start the countdown for the first day of their next summer at Banner! Honestly, I don’t blame them!!

If you want to learn more about what makes Banner Day Camp one of the best summer day camps on Chicago’s North Shore, definitely check out some of my blog posts about it! I’ve shared 9 reasons why we chose Banner Day Camp in the first place and learn about their incredible STARFISH program here!!! In addition, I’ve written some posts that Banner has sponsored including 6 water safety tips to remember when bringing your kids to a pool. Trust me, they’re all worth a read!

Banner Day Camp is located at 1177 Riverwoods Rd in Lake Forest, IL. 60045. Camp tours are given year round! You can call to set up an appointment at 847.295.4900. Also – go follow Banner on Instagram.


If not, what are you waiting for?? We have fun over there, and I would love to have you join our little mama community!! All it takes is 2 seconds! So, click here and hit that follow button now!


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