Whether your child is participating in a day camp (like vacation bible school), spending a few weeks at an overnight camp (for big kids), going on hiking adventures (for really big kids, also known as teens), or enjoying their days at the pool, park, or beach, they’ll need gear for the great outdoors. Here are 5 necessities to keep your kids hydrated, healthy, and happily loved by mom.
First priority: a backpack or day bag
Before you gather your items, make sure that your child has a bag. It can be a backpack, a drawstring bag, or a tote bag, just something that they can carry on their own to store these essentials. This is a great choice for a quality backpack.
Next, work you way through the list and gather the items. Toss them into you kid’s backpack or day bag – now your child is ready to go!
Essential #1: Water bottle
Beat the summer heat with an insulated water bottle. While kids are running around outside, soaking up the sun, or playing with friends, their little bodies get dehydrated fast. A general rule of thumb is that kids should drink half of their body weight in ounces. For example, if your daughter weighs 50 pounds, she should drink 25 ounces of water on an average day. Up that amount if you kids are spending the day outside at summer camp!
What if you kids doesn’t really like water? No problem. If your kids don’t love plain water, drop in a few berries or flavor with a little bit of 100% juice. Consider filling their water bottle with milk or a smoothie instead. If your child is extra active, offer an electrolyte drink as an afternoon treat.
Mama tip: Discover if your child drinks more out of a straw or an open mouth piece. Most popular brands (see below) keep liquids cool for at least 12 hours, so add ice to their bottles.
- Kids Insulated Kleen Kanteen – These come in a variety of colors so you can pick your child’s favorite. The sports cap is easy for little mouths to open and close, while the handle makes is easy to clip onto lunch boxes and backpacks.
- Contigo Autospout Kids Insulated Water Bottle – Similar to the Kleen Kanteen, this Contigo water bottle is perfect for summer camp! It keeps drinks cold for up to 14 hours, and easily opens with the push of a button. It’s spill proof and dishwasher safe too!
Essential #2: Lunch box
It’s important for kiddos to stay hydrated with water, but did you know that they can get liquid from food too? Cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, avocado, and tomatoes, just to name a few. By packing your little ones a nutritious, healthy, and hydrating lunch, you can help them stay active and enjoy all the activities of summer camp!
Mama tip: Looking for lunch ideas beyond the boring sandwich? Try hard-boiled eggs, chicken salad, guacamole and chips, or a turkey and cheese wrap. Discover 12 healthy lunch ideas you kids won’t hate.
- Rubbermaid LunchBlox containers with ice pack – This set is the perfect size to fill up with lunch foods and snacks! It even snaps onto an ice pack to stay extra cool and organized. The containers are dishwasher safe and the colors are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face.
- Rubbermaid LunchBlox lunch bag – Why not coordinate you lunch containers and ice pack with the matching lunch box? It all fits together like a puzzle piece to keep your kids food cool, the portion sizes perfect, and their lunch accessible for a day at camp.
- Thermos Food Jar – For the foods you want to keep warm until lunch, or the items you prefer to keep cold. For example, a jar of cold milk can be mixed with a small bag of dry cereal for a filling lunch that is also hydrating. Keeps things cold for 7 hours and keeps things hot for up to 5 hours, plenty of time between lunch prepping in the morning and eating lunch.
Essential #3: Sunscreen
The summer sun makes for a perfect day at the beach, in the pool, or on the lake. However, the sun can burn the tender skin of your kids or enhance dehydration. Lather up your kids in sunscreen from head to toe each morning. Reapply after they get out of the water, or again after lunch.
Slip an extra bottle in their day bag and remind them (or their camp counselor) that they need to put on sunscreen more frequently than once in the morning.
Mama tip: Although spray bottles are convenient, avoid those bottles so you aren’t inhaling toxic fumes. Although lotions can be messy, they offer the best coverage. A stick can be an excellent choice for a young child who needs to apply it alone, just encourage them to rub it in with their hands to cover any spots the stick missed.
- Badger Sport Sunscreen, SPF 35
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50+ (more than 2000 reviews on Amazon!)
- Alba Botanica Kids, SPF 45
- Read more about the ingredients to avoid in sunscreen, plus our top recommendations for the best natural and family-friend sunscreens here!
Essential #4: Bug Spray
Kids are afraid of bugs. And sometimes Mamas and Daddys and Camp Counselors are too! Avoid bug bites and creepy crawly critters this summer with bug spray. But wait….DEET isn’t the best product, even though it’s in most bug sprays. As a Mama, you don’t want to subject your children to harmful chemicals or detrimental substances, such as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (commonly called DEET). What’s the alternative? Natural essential oils.
Mama tip: Use a combination of peppermint, citronella, cedar, tea tree, or lavender oil to keep those bugs away from your kids. Combine the oil with coconut oil and rub gently on your child’s body (and you can even spray this diluted mixture onto their bags as well!).
- REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent – With nearly 5,000 reviews on Amazon, this is amazing stuff! It’s DEET free, smells good, and works well. What more could a Mama ask for? A good price? Guess what, this is affordable too at just over $5 per bottle.
- Nantucket Spider’s Best Natural Bug Repellent – I appreciate the honesty behind this company’s product description. It clearly defines which bugs this repels while stating the ones it doesn’t (including spiders). They describe that you can apply as often as needed since it’s a natural product, and even remind you that it’s not as effective as DEET sprays. Because of their natural ingredients and thorough description, this is a great choice for every family.
- Greenerways 100% USDA Organic and Safe Insect Repellent, Bug Spray – Repels mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, mites, gnats, and flies. This easy-to-spray bottle could be easily reapplied by your kids.
- Read more about which essential oils can help prevent bug bites, and learn how to make an all-natural DIY bug spray!
Essential #5: Love note from Mom
Imagine the smile on your child’s face when they find a little love note from Mom in their lunchbox or afternoon snack bag? Going away to camp can feel exciting and a little bit daunting. Kids are unsure of what to expect and know that Mom won’t be there all day long. Ease your baby’s worries and reassure them of how much you love them so that they can fully enjoy their summer adventures!
Mama tip: If you little kids can’t read well, draw them a picture. Hearts are universal for love! Or teach them what XOXO means a few weeks before camp, so that you can leave them hugs and kisses in their lunch box. Big kids prefer discreet notes, so slide a small strip of paper with a short message into their lunchbox that they can read without their friends noticing. Although they want to appear cool, they will adore your thoughtfulness.
Hydrated, healthy, and happy
Send your kids off to camp prepared to stay hydrated, healthy, and happy! Remind him to care for his body well and never let your daughter forget how much you love her!
After camp, ask your kids interesting questions (better than simply, “How was your day?”).