Suggestions for a neat “gadget” for a sleep away camp first timer?
May 31, 2022 6:59 AM   Subscribe

My 8 year old daughter is doing a week of sleep-away camp for the first time this summer with two cousins. We’ve got everything on the camp provided list and multiple books. I’d like to get her some neat little gadget, game, clothes or wearable that will make her first camp experience just a little bit more enjoyable. Could be practical or not!
posted by bitdamaged to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cool flashlight? (One with colored filter options?) Small binoculars? American Science and Surplus might be a source for ideas.
posted by eotvos at 7:05 AM on May 31, 2022

A flashlight is cool, but a headlamp is something else entirely (and something I can't do without when camping).
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:07 AM on May 31, 2022 [4 favorites]

This inflatable solar powered lamp is fun.
posted by piyushnz at 7:19 AM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Not sure what’s cool for kids these days but glitter “boondoggle”/plastic lanyard to make keychains was always a hot commodity as my camp only had plain colors. Ability to braid hair was also highly prized.

Glow in the dark items tend to go over well, as do those flashlights that kind of slide down to make a lantern- great for laughing an area when eating or playing cards. (Or I could see one of these colored inflatable lanterns going over well- also if they forget to turn it off the batteries aren’t run out for the week)
posted by raccoon409 at 7:24 AM on May 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

I carry this whistle, compass, magnifying glass, thermometer on my pack. It is cheap, light and useful. This one apparently has a glow in the dark compass.
posted by mmascolino at 7:33 AM on May 31, 2022

Disposable (film) camera for the old-timey fun of taking pictures and not being able to see them until she's home and they're developed.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Maybe a small diary, or some stationary and a new pen? Many fictional depictions of sleep-away camp involve diaries or letters home, so something that might encourage this.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:24 AM on May 31, 2022 [3 favorites]

Admittedly decades ago, at my summer camp the thing to bring was the sort of skill toy one could pass around. This was great for building friendships from passing it hand-to-hand, giving everyone a turn, getting to know what people's strengths were and identifying with their like frustrations. Some popular ones were yo-yos, ball-and-cup toys, paddle balls, devil sticks, and diabolos.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:41 AM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Is one of those "multiple books" an age-appropriate book of scary stories?
posted by Etrigan at 8:59 AM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

+1 for disposable film cameras. Less worry about them getting damaged and they’re fun. A silly watch may be practical since there is a lot of scheduled stuff at camp usually and few clocks.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:26 PM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid at summer camp my favorite shirt to wear changed color in sunlight. Mine was not even as cool as the new ones look. I have no clue if the ones I linked to are any good but I remember mine 30 years later and I wish I still had it.

I also loved playing mancala and would have loved to have something like this with me at camp.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 12:29 PM on May 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Deck of cards: uno or old maid for wet days. A clothes line or circular peg thingy. I remember when my daughter went on camp they had nowhere to hang wet things except on the edge of the bunks.
posted by b33j at 4:25 PM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Lightning detector?

A pair of FRS walkie talkies have a range of several miles and could even be a useful safety device.

You can get special salts that will make campfires change color.

Don't forget glowsticks. Lots and lots and glowsticks.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:09 PM on May 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid, a clip-on, battery-powered fan for a cot/bunk was indispensible. Remember lots of extra batteries. (Disclaimer: this was for tents or cabins without climate control in the south Georgia heat and humidity)
posted by Fritzle at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2022

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