What to Pack for a Sensory-Friendly Camper

Are you thinking about camp for your child? For many children, day and overnight camps are an important part of childhood. However, if your child has sensory sensitivities, camp may seem like a bad choice. Children with sensory differences feel overwhelmed by sensory-rich events or locations. A sensory-rich event or location is often unfamiliar. It can be busy and/or crowded. Have new or novel sounds and noises. Likewise, have new or novel scents or smells. Accordingly, summer camp is often sensory-rich! However, with preparation, summer camp can be fun for your sensory-sensitive child. So, prepare and pack for a sensory-friendly camper!

Why should my child go to camp?

Many parents hesitate to send their children to camp. Did you know that there are many developmental and social benefits of camp? For example, this research, “Examining the Impact of a Multi-Sport Camp for Girls Ages 8–11 With Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Guest et al., (2017) found that some of the benefits of camps for children with autism include: 

  • Promotes socialization. 
  • Encourages skill development. 
  • Adds healthy activities to daily routines. 
  • Promotes healthy motor activity 
  • Boosts creativity1

Camp helps tour child learns new skills and creates new friendships. Additionally, more summer camps offer programs that support children with sensory differences. These camps create a sensory-friendly environment. If they don’t, ask them for it!

Children play tug of war at sensory-friendly summer camp.

What should you pack for a sensory-friendly camper?

There are specific things you can send with your child to make their camp experience more sensory-friendly. For instance, below are essential and low-cost items to keep your sensory-sensitive child comfortable. Turn them into a sensory-friendly camper!

Infographic describing six things to pack for a sensory-friendly camper.

Clothing for a sensory-friendly camper

Firstly, sensory-friendly clothing is essential for a child sensitive to touch. Sensory-friendly clothing is clothing designed for people of any age with sensory sensitivities. Many children are irritated by certain fabrics or features of standard clothing. For example, sensory-friendly clothing includes soft fabric, no tags and stretchy waistbands, etc.

If your child is wearing uncomfortable clothing all day long, it contributes to sensory overload. It adds to sensory overload. Therefore, ensure your child is wearing sensory-friendly clothing to be comfortable at camp. Chantilly Comfort Wear has sensory-friendly clothing in all sizes.

Additionally, pack extra clothing options. Even for day camps. Oftentimes, children will get their clothes dirty and damp throughout different camp activities. Moreover, some children do not like the feeling of wet or dirty clothes. Help your child out by providing extra changes of clothing. Finally, remember extra socks and underwear too!

Noise-cancelling ear muffs and earplugs

Another important sensory-friendly accessory to pack is noise-cancelling earmuffs. Frequently, children with sensory sensitives wear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to reduce noises and sounds. This is because they are hypersensitive to sound. Therefore, background music, people talking or the sound of equipment can be very overwhelming. Think about all the noises at camp. Shouting and splashing in water, children generally having fun! Additionally, noises from animals in an outdoor environment.

If your child experiences similar sensitivities, pack earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.

Sunglasses and hats

In addition, sunglasses are another important sensory-friendly tool. Even bright natural light like the sun can irritate children sensory sensory sensitivities. Being outdoors at camp all day long can be a challenges. Furthermore, some camps may not have many shaded areas to escape the brightness all the time to keep your child comfortable. A simple solution to this is simply packing a pair of sunglasses.

Sensory-friendly swim goggles and cap.

If your sensory-sensitive child is going swimming at camp, consider sensory-friendly swim goggles like Frogglez. Frogglez is a brand of sensory-friendly swim goggles designed for both children and adults. Most standard swim goggles are made from uncomfortable plastic material. They have straps that pull hair. Additionally, most goggles do not fit well to your face. This can be frustrating for any child. However, for children with sensory sensitivities, this can be even more irritating.

Little child laying in water park wearing Frogglez sensory-friendly swim goggles.
Frogglez Sensory-Friendly Swim Goggles. Submitted.

Frogglez is made from comfortable wet-suit material. Also, these goggles wrap around the top of your head with two straps to ensure they are secure and do not easily fall off. Frogglez, sensory-friendly swim googles will encourage your child to participate in water activities while staying calm and comfy!

Hammer Head Swim Caps are also a great sensory-friendly product for swimming. The caps come in different sizes and are specially designed. They provide protection to the top of the head and are more comfortable to wear.

Hammerhead swim cap
Hammerhead Swim Cap. Submitted.

Fidget toys

Another common sensory-friendly tool to pack for your child is fidget toys. Typically, these are toys that fit into one hand and entice more than one sense. A popular type of fidget toys is handheld fidget spinners. That gives your child something to feel, see and hear. There are many different sensory-friendly fidget toy options. They help children stay engaged.

Weighted lap pads or blankets

Lastly, pack a weighted lap pad or blanket for your child. A weighted lap pad or blanket is often made from heavier but soft materials Additionally, these lap pads or blankets are designed to lay on a child’s lap when they feel increased levels of stress or sensory overload. The heaviness creates a soothing and calming effect to help ground and calm your child.

It is important to note that weighted lap pads should not weigh more than 5% of your child’s body weight. That is a critical safety features. Additionally, only wear them in 20 minutes intervals. It is important to learn about the safety tips of weighted lap pads blankets before using them. You should also send instructions along to the camp.

Camp can be fun for your child. Pack sensory-friendly tools for your child. Help your child be included and participate in the sensory-rich camp experience by preparing for a sensory-friendly camper.

Chantilly Comfort Wear, Frogglez Swim Goggles, and Hammer Head Swim Caps are all Sensory Friendly Solutions’ Favourite Things. Sensory Friendly Solutions’ Favourite Things recognizes products that help people manage sensory sensitivity or reduce sensory overload.

Looking for other sensory-friendly topics that can help to support your child? Check out:

And parents, for the weeks your child is at home, here are ideas to create a sensory-friendly backyard.

Finally, are you planning to go camping with the family? The be sure to read: How to Have a Sensory-Friendly Camping Experience.

Sensory Friendly Solutions is not paid to endorse products. When we mention specific products, it is because we have tried and tested them and believe they ae worthy of mention as being sensory-friendly.

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  1. Guest, L., Balogh, R., Dogra, S., & Lloyd, M. (2017). Examining the Impact of a Multi-Sport Camp for Girls Ages 8–11 With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 51(2), 109–126. https://doi.org/10.18666/trj-2017-v51-i2-7383
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