Camp Nurse Packing List

Getting ready to go to camp, especially for the first year, can be incredibly overwhelming. My first year I seriously overpacked, and over the years I have seen many nurses arrive unprepared. I have compiled a list of all the things that I take to camp every year. However your camp, is almost certainly different than mine, and what you as a person may be quite different from me, but use this list to get you started. Also don't worry to much, you not packing to go to Mars, if you forget something there will be scheduled runs to town. In an emergency most camps have a shopper who makes daily runs to town and can pick up small items for you.

  1. Plastic containers put the suitcase away! Whenever possible pack in plastic toters, they are waterproof, animal resistant, and easy to carry. Once unpacked they will be useful as laundry baskets, bedside tables, food storage, the list goes on and on.

  2. Clothing, plan to pack seven to ten days of pants and undergarments. Take a few shirts, but in general you will be wearing a camp shirt most of the time. Pack a semi dressy set of clothes in case you want to go out, or a more formal function crops up. Also pack a sweat shirt or light jacket for the chilly nights.  

  3. Shoes, one set of closed toe sneakers, and a set of sandals or flip flops.

  4. Watch, take along a cheap watch. Like school most camps run on a series of periods, knowing what time it is very important, and wall clocks can be scarce.

  5. Robe/Pajamas, you want to be sleeping in something presentable when you have to get up in the middle of the night. Don't bring anything to nice, but don't just think you can get away with sleeping in your under where or less.

  6. Sunscreen, because skin cancer is bad, apply every morning

  7. Bug spray, don't be an involuntary blood donor, put this on every evening.  

  8. Toiletries, bring soap, shampoo, towel, washcloths, or anything else you need to take a shower. Also deodorant, toothbrush, comb/brush, and other incidental things.

  9. Sleeping bag, most camps will provide you linens, however blankets are often subpar. You sleeping bag is an excellent comforter on the bed in your room, and is easily moved to the health center for your overnight shift. It's easy to think that you can skip this but I guarantee there will be chilly nights you need more than a sheet to keep you warm.

  10. Rain gear, everyone pictures summer camp as sunny all year round, but it does rain, often it pours. You still have walk around camp for meds, meals, and other duties. You will want a water proof jacket with a hood, and a pair of boots/shoes that won't easily soak through. Otherwise you may spend days at a time wet and miserable.

  11. Food, the kitchen is not always open, and occasionally you may miss a meal. Be able to snack and even have a meal on off hours. Think collage fare easy Mac, cup of noodles, and sweet snacks can be a lifesaver. Bring comfort food that you will want when stressed out.  Be sure to store your food in a plastic container to prevent unwanted vermin.

  12. Pictures, bring pictures of your family, friends, or pets. You will get homesick, and having photos of home makes it better. You also want to make you room feel homey, your going to be living there for weeks or months, so pictures and nicknacks make you feel like you not living in a hotel.

  13. Books, you will have some free time, and most camps encourage unplugging from technology, I love taking the opportunity to catch up on my reading. Bring some books with you, as the local bookstore may not be suitable to your needs. In a pinch you can order from amazon and have your items delivered directly to camp.

  14. Flashlight, bring many many flashlights, generally small ones that are just enough to light your way. Small inexpensive  flashlights are easy to carry, and can often double as penlights. Pack 2-3 flashlights so you can loose or break one without being left in the dark.

  15. Personal electronics, be sure to take any items such as a laptop, IPod, and cell phone with chargers. Plan to have slow Internet connection, so load up movies, music, and games ahead if time, as streaming may not be a good option.

  16. Power Strip, you may need to be prepared for a severe outlet shortage. Nurses unlike other persons at camp may wish to charge personal electronics, as well as turn on a lamp. This can be impossible with the number of outlets in your room.

  17. Cash, be sure to bring enough cash to fill the gas tank and have a nice meal out. Camps tend to be in rural areas where debit/credit cards may not be able to be used everywhere, or the only ATM is inside the bank that closes at 5pm. Having cash makes life a little easier sometimes.

  18. Medications, bring any medications you may need very frequently or are not stocked at camp. Have an extra script for any prescription medications, or make arrangements to have your script transferred if your using a national pharmacy.

Don't forget to follow your camps specific guidelines. Most camps obviously want conservative clothing, with no alcohol, tobacco, or similar displays. Be aware of any dietary restrictions, and be sure the food you bring along is in compliance. Be careful not to over pack, if everything you want to bring can't fit into two toters, then you are most likely packing to much. Be careful if you are buying items in town or having things delivered, remember you have to take everything back with you. I hope you find this a helpful place to get started with your preparations for camp. Please add any useful items that you pack in the comment section below.