The holidays claim to be the most wonderful time of the year, but as any camp kid knows, summer actually deserves that title. How do you bring the joy of summer to the winter months? With gifts that make any season feel a little like camp.
With this idea in mind, we assembled this summer camp holiday gift guide. While we focused on camp kids, all of these suggestions will also bring happiness to those on your list who are still camp kids at heart.
If you’ve got a camper on your list and are looking for a gift to make them feel like camp is right around the corner, this is the summer camp holiday gift guide for you.
1. Local Flora and Fauna Identification Books
Turn your camp kid into an expert with bird, animal, or plant identification books. Choose options that have a regional focus specific to their camp’s location. This way they can spend the months leading up to camp learning all they can about the wildlife or plants they’ll see when they arrive. You can search for these books and buy them from local bookstores at bookshop.com.
Add-ons: A bird feeder for home makes a great addition to this gift, allowing your camp kids to get acquainted with the birds in their local area as well. This guide on the different types of feeders will help you choose the one that’s right for you.
2. Glow-in-the-Dark Star Stickers
There’s just something magical about being at camp and sitting under the stars. This becomes slightly harder away from camp when kids are dealing with colder weather, city lights, and of course, sleeping indoors. While not the same as the real deal, glow-in-the-dark star stickers can add a little of that night sky feel to your camper’s bedroom. Once you have the stickers, use this interactive sky map and have your camp kid design their ceiling with a realistic representation of the night sky where they live (or where their camp is located).
Add-on: Up the star quality of this gift by also naming a star in honor of your camp kid.
3. Duct Tape
There is no more versatile medium for repairs and crafts than duct tape, and gone are the days when you were limited to just the classic silver color. You can now get duct tape in dozens of colors and patterns, and find guides online for making the classic wallets to hats and everything in between. Duct tape makes a fun gift for camp kids because it reminds them of the creative arts and crafts they love at camp, and can be used to repair rips in clothes, sleeping bags, and tents during the summer months.
Yes, we know there’s an app for that. We also know that going device-free is a major bonus of being at camp. A compass is a great little gift that has throwback appeal and is actually useful. We recommend including this guide for how to use a compass in your gift box. There are many different types of compasses – check out websites that provide guidance and reviews to help you narrow your focus to the compass that is right for your camper.
Add-on: If you really want to put together a blast-from-the-past summer camp holiday gift, combine the compass with an atlas of the area around your kid’s camp. Learning how to read a map is a fun indoor winter activity with real-world applications.
5. Waterproof Journal and Pen
One way to capture camp memories is in a journal, but your camp kid will need one that can withstand the rough conditions of summer outdoor living. Waterproof paper and pens are just the ticket. If you’re not sure that journaling is up your kid’s alley, you can get them a regular notebook to get them in the habit of writing before camp starts.
6. DIY Kits
The world of at-home activity kits seems to expand all the time and there are so many that fit perfectly with your kid’s love of camp. Some of our favorites include:
Once you figure out your camper’s favorite camp activity, we’re pretty confident you can find a version in a DIY kit that they can do at home.
7. Campfire or Woods Scented Candle
We’ve covered the sights of camp, but another fun gift can help you recreate the smells. Parks Project has a variety of candles that smell like the woods in specific national parks. They even have a campfire scent. The best part is that all their products are produced sustainably and they give a portion of their proceeds to support and protect our National Parks.
8. Survival Bandana
When is a bandana more than just a classic camp accessory? When it also provides you with checklists for any number of outdoor survival scenarios. That makes it a survival bandana. Your camp kid will learn new skills and can even use the cloth to filter water. Plus, there’s a guide for all the ways to wear the bandana, keeping your kid looking cool and smart all summer.
Add-on: Complete the look with a survival whistle, the ultimate useful accessory to any camp kid’s wardrobe.
9. Cool Camp Necessities
Many of the gifts on this list keep your camp kid entertained during the non-camp months. You can also purchase some unique presents that they can use during summer. A few summer camp holiday gift options we like are:
A fun colorful water bottle is another useful gift, and one company we love is LifeStraw. Not only do their bottles come in a variety of colors with many filter options, they also donate a portion of each purchase to help provide safe drinking water to communities in need.
Add-on: With all the fun gear you purchase, include a pack of carabiners so your camp kid can keep everything organized and easily grab and go with whatever they need on a particular day.
10. Books About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Inclusion is important in all aspects of our kids’ lives, including at camp. If you’re looking for ways to educate kids about privilege and diversity, there are many books that dive into these topics in ways that younger readers can understand. These titles can empower your camp kids to become allies for their peers and leaders in their camp communities. The book lists from The Conscious Kid and Here We Read are excellent resources for children’s books about racial equality. Other topics that can contribute to an inclusive at-home library include Native American history, books with LGBTQ+ characters, and gender equality.
11. Virtual Guitar Lessons
Leading campfire songs at camp is a favorite activity for many summer campers. They can definitely learn on-the-fly from current song leaders, but it can help them to have the basics before summer. If you happen to have a guitar around the house, you can sign your kid up for virtual lessons either with a teacher or using one of many online tutorial programs, such as Yousician. This activity is a great way to occupy your kid for hours and to prepare them for a musical summer as a song leader.
12. Camp Photo Calendar
The holidays mean that the new year is right around the corner, and there’s no better way to help your camper count the days to summer than with a custom camp photo calendar. There are many custom calendar services available, such as Shutterfly, Mixbook, and Snapfish. Whichever you choose, it’s simple to upload some of your camper’s favorite summer photos to bring them joy each month.
13. Campy Phone Cases or Popsockets
As we mentioned earlier, going device-free is a major bonus of being at camp. While your kids are home however, they likely have their phones or tablets with them at all times. You can camp-ify these items with summer-themed cases or Popsockets. This ‘Camp Stop, Won’t Stop’ Popsocket is a fun option, and nothing sums up your kid more than this ‘I’d Rather be at Camp’ case.
Add-on: If you want to go the extra mile, you can create custom cases or Popsockets featuring one of your camper’s favorite summer photos. The Popsocket national headquarters is right across the street from the CampMinder office, so we’ll put in a good word for you.
14. Branded Camp Gear
Summer camp kids love camp in general, but they love their camp the most. Perhaps the most intuitive holiday gift for a camp kid is a branded item from their camp’s store. T-shirts and hats are always popular, as are colder weather items such as sweatshirts and beanies. Purchasing these items is a great way to support camp financially as well, so it’s a win-win.
Add-on: If your kid’s camp is a nonprofit organization, you could also make a donation to the camp in their honor.
Add Summer Cheer to the Holiday Season
We know there’s magic to the holiday season, but we’re confident that camp kids still think of summer as their favorite time of the year.
Whatever and however you celebrate, coming up with creative and useful gifts can be hard. Our goal with this summer camp holiday gift list – from the practical, to the interactive, to the silly – is to help you bring a smile to any camp kid’s face. You can’t bring them to camp any sooner, but these gifts can help you deliver a little camp to them.