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What to Pack for Day Camp

This will be TJ’s first year at day camp for a full day program. Our town’s summer day camp program looks pretty phenomenal, and it’s exciting for both TJ and us as parents. They’ve given us a list of things he should bring with him each day, and in case your local day camp isn’t that helpful, I thought I’d share the list with you here. I also have a separate listing for snacks to pack in your kids’ lunches for day camp, as I have a few products I’ve been asked to try that fit the bill nicely!

What to Pack for Day Camp

  • Sneakers and socks – no sandals
  • Towel and bathing suit, if swimming is involved
  • Sunscreen and bug spray (may be applied before camp)
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon snack
  • Camp t-shirt, if provided, especially on field trip days

What to Pack for Day Camp Lunches

Much like school lunches, your child will not likely have access to refrigeration during day camp. There is the added hurdle of hot summer temperatures, and your kids’ lunches may be stored outside in the sunlight. Any ice packs you send to help with food safety for items that need to remain cool should be places back in the freezer as soon as your child returns home from day camp in order to ensure they are fully frozen for the next day’s use. So what are some things you can pack that may make the other kids jealous at lunch time?

Welch's Fruit SnacksWelch’s Fruit Snacks

I don’t buy a lot of fruit snacks for TJ because they contain more sugar than anything else. I was sent some Welch’s Fruit Snacks to review, and they were a big hit! I like them because they’re only 80 calories, they have 100% DV of Vitamin C and 25% DV of Vitamins A & E, and juices from concentrate are the first ingredient – meaning there’s more fruit juice than sugar in them. They’re also gluten-free. As for taste? I had to remind my husband that he had to share them with our son. We were given samples of all of the flavors to try, and they were all gone within two weeks. They may have disappeared faster if my husband had been allowed to gobble them all down himself.

Granola Bars

Tried and true, granola bars (and cereal bars) are compact snacks that will hold up well on hot summer days – as long as you avoid the kinds that are covered in chocolate; those will melt and make a big mess. There’a a granola bar for every kid: chewy, crunchy, fruit-filled, low-fat, reduced sugar, protein-rich, fiber-rich, with nuts, without nuts, organic, drizzled with icing… You get the idea. I buy the Quaker Chewy variety pack for TJ, but he still likes to steal some of my Special K Chocolately Pretzel bars sometimes. If granola bars are your child’s first choice in snack foods, you can buy enough flavors to make sure he doesn’t get the same kind twice in two weeks – and you’ll be covered for the whole summer.

Sambazon SmoothieSambazon Superfood Smoothies

It’s safe to say that I would never have picked up Sambazon’s Protein Chocolate + Almond + Coconut Milk Smoothie on my own. The label uses words like organic and vegan whole food on it – things I don’t necessarily equate with tasty and delicious. (Honesty: I liked the taste, but I couldn’t get past the texture. It’s an Asperger’s thing of mine, and I’m sure it’s not an issue for most people.) If you want to pack a nutritional punch in your kid’s lunch to make sure they have the energy they need to play outside all day at day camp, these smoothies (there are other flavors) have protein, omega-3s, and over 90 Acai berries in each bottle. And what kid have you ever known to turn down a chocolate smoothie? Just don’t forget those ice packs – Sambazon smoothies need to be kept refrigerated.

Fruitables Juice Boxes

I didn’t get to review these or anything, but I’ve been buying Fruitables juice boxes for TJ ever since they came on the market. With more than one combined serving of fruits and vegetables in each juice box, it’s a good way to ensure my picking little eater gets the vegetable nutrition he isn’t always getting from his food. He likes all of the flavors, and it’s never a struggle to get him to drink them. As a side note – Fruitables juice boxes are not 100% juice, but that’s not because of sugar. That’s because of added water to keep the calorie count down while still allowing kids enough to get hydrated. If it weren’t for Fruitables juice boxes, I’d be resorting to sending TJ with a thermos full of V8 V-Fusion, since they don’t make those in juice boxes. There would be worries about getting the thermos back in one piece, though. :-) Oh yeah, and you can sign up for a Fruitables coupon here!

Better Sandwich Bread

Wonder Smart White BreadTJ eats a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. If all of those sandwiches were made with plain white bread, I’d be missing out on an opportunity to sneak more nutrition into his meals. He does happen to like white bread, but I’ve found that both Wonder Smart White Bread and Sara Lee Iron Kids Bread are fantastic white whole wheat breads that masquerade as unassuming white breads. They are made with whole grains and packed with things like fiber, calcium, B Vitamins, iron, and Vitamin D. And if your kid is open to variety? There are soft whole wheat breads and plenty of whole grain breads packed with texture, too. My local Price Chopper grocery store has an artisan bakery with a variety of fresh, crusty baked breads that TJ is willing to eat. Experiment with different breads so your kids are stuck in the white-bread-only trap.

What else do you send with your kids for day camp? Is there something great I’m missing out on?

Christina Gleason (833 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.

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