a youthworker’s camp survival kit

last night i arrived home from a fantastic weekend at winter camp, also known as a weekend retreat. the venue is a camp up in the san bernadino mountains and it’s beautiful there. i’ve been to this camp several times before but it had been a while since i’d done the ‘camp’ thing. the last few student retreat/events i’ve been to, we’ve stayed in hotels. and being a little out of practice at the traditional camp going, i forgot to pack my survival kit.

once upon a time, i was at traditional camp venues an average of 6 times a year. it was during this season i came up with my ‘survival kit’. and while i managed just fine without the kit, it would have come in handy and made things just a little nicer. i thought i’d share my list with you.

the basics:

  • bath mat (it’s nice that most camp cabins now have bathrooms, but they never have bath mats. it’s just a little nicer and safer. i like the ones from target that are like the ones you find at hotels.)
  • extra hooks (either the over the door or command hooks. having a few extra places to hang towels, wet clothes is always handy.)
  • night light (sure most middle school kids have outgrown them, but they are handy to help kids find the bathroom in a strange place in the middle of the night.)
  • hand soap & paper towels (usually not provided but quite useful)
  • power strip (because girls typically bring a plethora of blow dryers & curling irons)
  • alarm clock (most kids use their cell phones as watches so if they’re leaving them off, then they’re constantly asking you the time. plus giving them a community alarm clock puts the responsibility of getting up & getting ready on time back on them.)
  • trash bags (for packing up sleeping bags, bedding, dirty clothes.)
  • sharpie & duct tape (a youth worker should never, ever be without these two items)

“mom” items:

  • toothpaste
  • band-aids
  • q-tips
  • pads/tampons
  • sunscreen
  • gallon ziplocs

“rock-star” counselor bonus items:

  • colored markers & blank notecards (make a birthday card on the fly, do a creative journaling project, write encouragement notes for campers)
  • treats (leave mints on their pillows or just have a snack to bust out for late night munchies or during cabin discussions)
  • pocket games (cards, scrabble slam [my new personal favorite], would you rather, have you ever… it’s just handy to have a plan for the “i’m bored” or to help kids get to know each other.)
  • solo cups (for the “i need a drink” moment or just for them to hold their toothbrush/paste by the sink)
  • glow-in-the-dark ball (i use this as the talking ball after lights out-whoever has it can share the highlight of their day and then pass it to the next person. it helps settle the girls down without me having to say “shh, go to sleep” a thousand times.)

anything you’d add? i’d love to hear your thoughts!

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3 Responses to “a youthworker’s camp survival kit”


  1. 1 Chip 11 January, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Great list Mindi, I especially like the talking ball. Having served in the military and on a Beach Party Team (sounds fun but believe me it was no ‘party’), I spent a lot of time camping around the world’s beaches. Thought I’d add a couple of things:

    1) Some nylon line (cheap item in Walmart’s camping section) – like your hooks, you just never know when you want to have the improvised clothesline, or hang something up, tie something down, etc…

    2) My leatherman, or another multi-purpose tool, comes in handy.

    3) Reading light – I have one that straps to my head like a miner’s light, very handy.

    Keep up the great work.

    • 2 miniloo 11 January, 2010 at 11:38 pm

      oh, fantastic suggestions. i actually leave a mini-leatherman tool & a mini-mag light in my backpack all the time. i like the idea of the reading light tho. that would actually be a good idea for kids to pack if they want to read a little after lights out or before time to get up in the morning.


  1. 1 few of my favorite YM things: Ikea edition « Mindi's Blog Trackback on 24 October, 2010 at 7:59 pm

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