A Comprehensive List of the Things you definitely do NOT need for Camp

So here is one of our favorite recollections from a Camp director: “One camper (7 years old) brought a library card, a block of cheese from home (he was storing it in his pocket), a large-print Spanish to English dictionary (he was Nepali), and the puffiest winter coat I have ever seen (it was early August and about 96 degrees). Instant legend.”

Here at “Pack for Camp”, we spend a lot of time thinking about useful stuff to bring to camp, so naturally we end up ruling out things which we consider less useful, which made us wonder… What if we compiled a list of the zaniest, craziest items that actual kids bring to actual summer camp?

So we put the question out there to our network of camp professionals and boy, did they answer! Responses came pouring in about everything from Dad installing an air conditioner unit in his child’s cabin to the kid who brought week’s worth of McDonald's food because his mom told him camp food was gross and not to eat it, but to eat this instead.

So here it is, the ultimate list of the wackiest things kids have brought to camp based on real life sightings by camp professionals.

Bunk Accessories

So we all like our bunks to be comfortable and homey but it seems like sometimes we might get just a little carried away. This story says it all: “I brought this to camp: To show his undying love and how much he would miss me, my high school boyfriend sent me to camp with every single Kiss tape he owned. I camped in a platform tent, so it's not like I was listening to them (or wanted to). It was a symbol of his trust and fidelity. The good news is, those stupid tapes are in a box in OUR garage and our kid is now the same age as we were then. Whataguy.”

  1. One suitcase for two sisters. The sisters were not the same age and were staying in different cabins. They had one set of toiletries too.
  2. A trunk larger than the child bringing it, to an island only accessible by boat for only a week
  3. High school textbooks
  4. Wall Street journals...for "fun" reading during rest time
  5. Venus fly trap
  6. Trampoline
  7. Five drawer plastic dresser and matching throw rug to put in front of the bunk
  8. Large inflatable furniture
  9. Huge my little pony castle playset
  10. Mini tank to hold bugs and frogs
  11. Life-sized cardboard cut out of a Twilight character
  12. Balance beam
  13. Footlocker full of Beanie Babies & school year books
  14. Set of dumbbells with interchangeable weight plates
  15. An entire bar, stools and all!!!
  16. A 500€ down feather sleeping bag which, naturally, a counselor decided to throw in the washer with other camp laundry...


Yes, we want our kids’ basic needs attended to at camp, which include not being hungry. But does that really mean that you need to send her with a week's worth of free range eggs???
  1. Toaster and a laundry bag full of pop tarts
  2. Brand new full size bottle of Sriracha
  3. Seaweed salad on visiting day
  4. Large bag of peanuts as a snack, like huge bag… to a nut free camp
  5. Case of San Pellegrino sparkling water
  6. Single potato sent in a care package
  7. Coconut
  8. Entire suitcase of spam
  9. Raw scrambled eggs in a canteen for a backpacking trip in July... and the cast iron skillet to cook them.
  10. Non-alcoholic beer, which he pounded as soon as he got to the cabin and then Insisted that he was drunk.
  11. Hockey duffel bag with 50 lbs of junk food
  12. A can of soup. Why did they bring it? There was a typo in our list of items to bring to camp which said "shampoo or soup".


    T-shirts? Check. Socks? Check. Underwear? Check. Well, how about these items?

    1. A shoehorn
    2. High-high heels... to a rustic camp with all gravel roads
    3. Prom dress
    4. Dry clean only clothes
    5. Handcuffs
    6. Creepy masks
    7. Gorilla suit
    8. Sombrero that became our cabin mascot (Pedro)
    9. Collection of cowboy hats! (4 of them)
    10. Diamond earrings

    And to top it off, a full length mirror, a Barbie head that you can do her hair and makeup and a list of daily instructions on how to comb and braid her daughters hair.

    And don’t forget these handy appliances...

    1. Butane-powered curling iron to trip camp
    2. Dorm size fridge
    3. Vacuum cleaner
    4. Dyson air purifier
    5. Coleman Camp Stove to a day camp
    6. Their own electric coffee pot
    7. Gas mask and a frying pan (which she took to the kitchen and asked the chef if she could make some pancakes.)
    8. Cell phone fan attachment with no cell phone
    9. Virtual reality goggles 
    10. Night vision goggles
    11. 20+ pairs of 3D glasses. Not a single TV in camp
    12. Flat Screen TV, Xbox and Playstation
    13. Electric keyboard
    14. Solar power bug repellent - Apparently it does not work at night.

    Other Camp Essentials - Weapons, Animals and More

    So apparently one of the Scouts camp handbooks states that Scouts cannot bring cannons… Good thing they mentioned that. Well, considering the rest of this list, you can understand why they might have wanted to point that out…

    1. Crossbow and a samurai sword
    2. Broadsword
    3. 7 inch fixed blade knife to field skin a deer
    4. Slingshot
    5. Hatchet
    6. Glow-up light-saber
    7. A bird. Not a pet bird. Just a bird he found and caged and brought to camp
    8. Not a service dog....but a service chicken
    9. Their goldfish
    10. Clippings of their dogs fur
    11. Kitten smuggled into camp in a build-a-bear box he was bringing for show and tell
    12. Tuba
    13. Case of liquid paper
    14. Javelin (was not a track and field camp). Parent expected that a staff member would conduct daily one-on-one training sessions so she could practice.
    15. A "cut a cavity into a book for hiding a cell phone" thing. Shame of it was, it was a good book (a Harry Potter Hardcover I think)
    16. Ventriloquist dummy

    And then there was the parent who took "pack light" a little too far… “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. One carry-on bag of toiletries (which were confiscated by TSA) and the clothes she was wearing. For four weeks.”


    We want to acknowledge the amazing Facebook group “Summer Camp Professionals” and thank all the administrators and moderators of the group. We picked up most of these stories on that group in what turned out to be a VERY long thread.

    Happy Camping Everyone!

    About the Author 

    Gaby Fachler spent 10 summers in his youth as a camper and staff. He is the founder and general manager of Pack for Camp, an online store that offers everything you expect to find on a camp packing list: soft trunks, bedding, laundry accessories, toiletries, storage solutions, clothing and more. Pack for Camp partners with summer camps to create customized smart packing lists and landing pages for campers and staff.