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Packing For Camp

Summer '24 Tips

For a happy & comfortable summer


1 set of bed sheets, 2 pillow cases, 2  light blankets 

In addition to sleeping bag. To ensure a clean sleeping area.


Folding camp chair

Your camper can sit cozy in group or distance anywhere.

Personal day backpack/bag/satchel

To carry personal items: water bottle, snack, rain gear, etc.

Pre-addressed envelopes with paper and pen

To help your campers Sunday letter writing


Packing Basics


Packing for Camp is an exciting first step, enjoy it!

• 'Required items' - You must have these!

• 'Recommended items' - Make camp safe & comfortable.

• ‘Not recommended’ - For safety, health, & comfort.

• ‘Not permitted’ - DO NOT bring, for safety reasons.

• TIPS !

Find Trunks - try C&N Mfg. trunks at

Medicines, Documents, Valuables - pack for delivery to staff.
Label, label, label! Help us keep track of your camper's items.

Luggage - 1 trunk/ “footlocker” (approx. 13” x 18” x 32”)

1 large duffel (2 if no trunk) & 1 daypack/backpack recommended 


We Are Tech Free !

Pathfinder is a tech-free camp. We live simply in our natural setting, away from fast paced, screen-heavy lives. Living tech-free opens campers to the world of Algonquin and to vibrant social interaction.

NO game machines, music players, phones, handhelds, laptops, drones, phone-watches, headphones, ear-pods, etc.


Items will be locked in our safe on arrival & returned charged up for the trip home.


YES ! Digital cameras are certainly ok! Same for wrist-watches!

SORRY ! Cell phone for camera or clock use is NOT permitted.


Trip Clothing/Gear

Pathfinder gear does not need to be expensive or elaborate! 


YES - Some quality gear is required...

This goes for campers of ALL AGES. Hey, your daily clothes will get sweaty, muddy, wet, and dry. Footwear is key. We recommend investing in quality rain jackets, trail boots, life vest, fleece jacket/down puff, wool trip socks and headlamps.

You can order some gear at cost from Camp from now to June 1.
Click link top of page 'Gear Form.'


For AA Canoe Trips

Special Required Gear for 18-40 day trips in the north:

(this is included on packing list)

- New or Like-New Dry Bag (30 litre SeaLine)
- High quality waterproof rain jacket/ rain pants

- Base layers - top & bottom - warm, breathable, light

- Quality fleece/shelled synthetic insulation jacket

- Fleece pants/windproof lined pants

- Light gloves & warm hat (waterproof gloves optional)

- Thermarest  ‘TrailLite’ or ‘Prolite’ pad or equiv.

- New or like-new SeaLine Baja 30 dry bag

- Bug head-net (0ptional)


Camp Bathing

Camp is for getting dirty but it’s not a place to stay dirty. Campers routinely take soap baths. These are supervised by Headmen and Swim Staff.  Send your Camper with:
-  a washcloth or scrubby!
- biodegradable soap and shampoo (trial sizes ok)
- toothbrush and toothpaste


We are lake bathers... so Camp Pathfinder permits ONLY biodegradable soaps and shampoos. These can include Burt's Bees • Ivory Soap • Camp Suds • Dr. Bronner's • Mrs. Meyers • Honest Company • Sea to Summit • Live Clean

We provide additional without charge if a camper runs out.

LabelPlan Ahead • Test Purchases

Tripping Gear Details

Dry Bag/Sleeping Bag/Thermarest


On trips, every boy should have a dry bag for his spare trip clothes and sleeping bag. A size 30-Litre SeaLine Baja bag is right for use with Pathfinder canoe packs. Look for the “SeaLine Baja 30 bag.” If it's easier for you, we have a supply of new dry bags priced at cost, @$40.00 cn.  Accept no substitutes.

The sleeping bag itself can be, generally speaking, a 20-degree F rating that is highly compressible. Synthetic fill retains its loft if wet, dries quickly, and is perhaps the ideal bag for Algonquin Park. Down bags are terrific but must be kept dry. It can be done with care, and they're a beautiful lifetime bag. But, if wet, one won’t hold its loft and becomes useless, so the newest dry bag’s a must. Today’s synthetic fill sleeping bags are top-notch. An important tip: prevent any unwanted bugs or mildew coming to Camp -- please be sure sleeping bags are properly cleaned before sending them. Paying $90 - $200 for a bag is about right. Be wary of chain outdoor stores pushing pricey bags intended for extreme climate mountaineering. Pathfinder offers an at-cost bag each year, running from $85cn to $110cn generally. 

*A note on sleeping pads aka 'Thermarest'. Older boys taking long trips may want to bring an ultralight full-length Thermarest or ground pad, provided it packs very small. The new generation of  air  mattresses may also work well. These pads are not recommended or needed for younger campers attending shorter sessions or tripping ages 7 - 12.

Rain Gear


A Camper’s rain gear should be waterproof/breathable and roomy enough to be non-restrictive for paddling and portaging, for layering, and to vent body heat. Choose a jacket, while pants are optional except for AA campers. Ponchos are not effective. Do not send ponchos or value-priced rain jackets that will rip on the trail. In general, the jacket will be used a lot and the pants not very much. Invest in the jacket and choose a moderate priced pant. Some families skip the pants altogether but in the event of cold temps and wind driven rain, they're great.

A word about Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex rain gear is expensive, but it can be found at discount outdoor suppliers like Beans, Dick's or Mountain Equipment Co-op at a reasonable price for kids. There is no need to buy the ultimate 3-layer bombproof Gore-Tex shell worn by mountaineers. Remember for your young first-time camper, there are also decent basic rain jackets that are rubberized, non-breathable but effective in a downpour. No matter what the claims, Gore-Tex won’t prevent perspiration dampness or rain leaks in all situations. It’s your call. Just expect your son’s rain gear to get well used and potentially pine-stained and muddy. After all, they’ll be canoe tripping in the great north woods!


Trip Boots


Yes, trip boots are a must and water shoes or athletic sneakers are no substitute. Your tripper will be in rough terrain with ground debris and under a pack's weight sometimes. Buy trip boots well ahead of time and wear them in! Wear your new purchase around home for a week. There should be ample room in the toe box up front. Imagine walking down hill with a trip pack on your back. You need the toe-room. Try new boots on with the brand of socks you’ll actually be wearing. SmartWool is smart ! Many love the Darn Tough brand these days. Plan on wearing one pair of quality socks with your boots. Wearing two pr. socks causes blisters.

There are so many boots on the market right now, it's hard to recommend one brand/model. In general, an ankle height trail style hiking boot that's not stiff is the best call. Gore-Tex-lined trip boots are popular, but can trap stale wetness when immersed – a common occurrence in Algonquin. They can lead to foot troubles unless dried and fresh or dried socks are changed regularly. Work boots like Timberlands and other hikers without a Gore-Tex lining are a good value as well being easier to dry. In the end, it's what is most comfortable and fits best that matters. Note: If a modern trail boot has too much mesh construction, it is likely not very sturdy for weight-bearing portaging. 

Open-toed River Sandals or ‘Tevas’ are not permitted on trips or for daily wear at camp, because local conditions (rocks and roots) cause too many foot injuries. These can hamper a trip or ruin a summer. A beat-up pair of sneakers or some Crocs are best to change into on the campsite, or to walk on the Island’s trails. A closed-toe sandal like some Chacos or Keens are great. Crocs are popular and some Campers swear by them because they dry fast and are comfy and ultra light in the pack. Open-toed sandals in-camp are permitted for no more than going to Swim Dock.

General Trip Clothes

Other favorite trip clothes are usually a couple of t-shirts, a long-sleeve fishing shirt is great for heat and sun, while an old flannel can be nice for cool evenings. Add loose fitting tough shorts, and a pair of similar long pants to change into. Denim jeans are not recommended, because they’re heavy when wet, lose body heat, and never seem to dry. Today's base layer shirts and looser-fitting short- and long-sleeve synthetic shirts can block UV rays, wick body moisture, repel odors, etc. Might be worthwhile to get one l.s. synthetic crew neck for the trip trail. For AA Campers, definitely get base layers and a quality wind-stopping fleece jacket or synthetic fill puff jacket.

Trip Socks, etc.


Trip socks are medium-weight wool or synthetic blends. Bring about a half-dozen pair to camp, maybe 4 pairs if a younger two-week camper. SmartWool and Darn Tough socks are the best and are worth it.  A medium weight fleece or wool blend sweater make ideal layering pieces. An extra fleece vest is also okay. Cotton sweats stay wet and lose body heat, so we don’t use them on trips.


Life Jacket / Paddling Vest

Life Jackets will be worn a lot. Get a good quality vest with minimal straps and buckles. There are generally two styles: vest style with front zipper, or pull-over-head with side zipper. Companies like Lotus and Perception make expensive but excellent paddler’s vests, while makers like Mustang, Salus and Oasis make first-quality front-zip vests. If your camper is a Mic-Mac, make sure his vest is the right style for small kids.

Water Bottles, Sunscreen, Repellents & Hats!

Research shows excessive sun exposure is not healthy for kids in the long run. Sun glare on canoe trips, especially off the water, can give serious sun burns. Send sunscreen that you have already tested on your camper, minimum SPF 15. Pump spray or lotion ok, aerosol cans prohibited. The Staff will also have sunscreen on-hand, and use it frequently, and will apply it on younger campers for them.

A cap with visor is a must. Hats shading ears and neck offer maximum sun protection. Either ball caps or hats with brims are okay. Pack a neck-gaiter, Buff or bandana to wet and drape on ears and neck on bright, hot days. A simple hat that has a full brim offers best protection. Inexpensive but effective sunglasses that block UV rays are an option to protect young eyes. Add a neck cord.

We recommend non-DEET bug repellent, but if you wish you may provide repellents with 50% or less DEET as the active ingredient. A great choice is a small bottle of a 'natural repellent' that includes lemon grass, citronella and other oils.

For essential daily water intake (hydration) Pathfinder has a great 32-ounce Lexan Nalgene drinking water bottle. It sells at cost for @ $18.00. Most of the campers get one in the Candy Store. They are hip, with Camp’s logo, and they are a sure way to get your camper hydrating all day the way he should. An important skill we teach. You can buy a similar bottle for as little as @$12 at the local outdoor store.


*Please note: polycarbonate bottles should not contain the ingredient BPA, which may leach out of the plastic over time with age or when exposed to hot liquids. Pathfinder uses Nalgene products with no BPA. Lexan is best choice.

Canoe Paddles

Camp provides paddles for camper use, no charge, but if your son would like his own, order a custom Pathfinder paddle in his size. Measure him floor-to-nose and call us with your order. Prices are charged to candy store account and run @$45.00 - $60.00 cn depending  on available supplies. AA campers seeking expensive whitewater paddles need parent permission ahead of time. For 2022-2023 assume that paddles are affected by supply chain issues and may not be available for purchase.

Gear Details
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