Flashback to Brody and Levi on their first day at Banner Day Camp last summer!!

Ahhhh summer camp is near and us mamas have to start thinking about what our campers should bring in their backpacks to camp!!! I can’t believe the school year has flown by so quickly but I’m giddy with excitement! Especially for my two sons, Brody and Levi, who are beyond excited for their return to Banner Day Camp!! It can’t come fast enough! With that, word on the street is that the number 1 question that many day camps get asked prior to the summer beginning is “What should I pack in my camper’s backpack?” Well, I’m here to help you by sharing the complete list of things that your child should bring to day camp! These kids need a lot of stuff and to ensure that you, as their parents, don’t forget about ANYTHING, I am listing out the camper’s backpack essentials below + I’m sharing my picks for each category!

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 I Adore What I Love possible =)

Check out my ultimate list of things that should go into your camper’s backpack not only on the first day of day camp but everyday!

Shop My exact Picks for What to Include in Your camper’s Backpack below!

Durable Backpack

Every camper needs to bring a durable backpack to camp that is easily washable and big enough to carry all the summer camp things! 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!


Spray sunscreen all the way here in our household! I like to use a clean sunscreen on my kids like this mineral sunscreen for sensitive skin that also sprays on clear {bonus!!} by Alba Botanicals. 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

A reusable water bottle is clutch to bring to camp! I like to send the original gatorade water bottles {it’s nothing fancy but truly perfect!!} with my boys because nobody has to remember to open or close it which means less potential of backpack spills!! It’s also not super expensive so if it ends up lost, it’s not such a big deal.

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!

Bathing Suit

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

Pool Flip Flops

For many 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

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.

Zip-Lock Bag of Extra Clothes

I am okay, though, keeping a change of clothes in a zip-lock bag because it’s see-through and most likely won’t be used or touched daily – which means the bag will stay in tact!

Hand Sanitizer

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

Disposable Masks

I know that at Banner, there will be certain areas in the camp that campers will be required to wear their masks – like when they go to the bathroom or if they have to go see the nurse. These KN95 kids masks fit the boys so well, stay on their faces, and feel comfortable for them to wear.

Two very important notes:

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!!!!! I was recently introduced to 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. I’ve been using them for a few months now and am very impressed! I can totally attest to their staying power on bottles, clothing tags, and more!

No matter what day camp you’re sending your child/children to camp this summer, you will NEED to make sure they have all these things with them on the first day in their backpacks! And there’s no better time than to start planning than today… because mid-June is creeping up on us FAST!!!!

Did you know?

By the way, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you would know that Banner is my alma mater and the most special summer day camp ever! The boys have literally counted down the days until their return to Bannerama since both of their last days last August. Not a joke! They can’t wait to have the BEST summer at Banner doing allll the fun things including swimming, sports, arts, and adventure. I am super pumped for them! I also know that it’s going to be a huge summer of growth for both Brody and Levi and as cheesy as it sounds {don’t judge this next line, ok?!}, I truly can’t wait to see them spread their wings!!

If you missed my previous blog posts about Banner, you can check them out after reading this one! The first post I wrote detailed 9 reasons why we chose Banner Day Camp for Brody  and the second was more of a podcast episode {so fun, right?!} where I talked to Stacy Schwartz, the Owner/Executive Camp Director of Banner, as well as Co-Executive Director, Howard Thall, on the phone and recorded our conversation. We talked about each of their lives and backgrounds, what Banner means to them, how it’s evolved over the years, what they believe sets Banner apart from other camps in the area and SO MUCH MORE!! Check out that post and listen to our phone conversation on the treadmill, doing the dishes, etc. I promise you will love it no matter where you’re sending your child to day camp =) 

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Also, if you want to share what you’ve put in your camper’s backpack before the first day, do that on stories and tag me!! I would love to see it!

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Please PIN this post using the pink buttons below to save for later via Pinterest!!! I would also be oh so grateful if you passed it along and shared it with your friends and family members who have kids going to day camp!! They’re going to need to know what to put in their camper’s backpack too, after all! Xox

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