Summer Camp Glossary: Words Your Child Needs to Know

By Erica Patino, MA
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Your child is all ready to go to summer camp for the first time. He may hear words and phrases he’s never encountered at home or at school. Going over these terms ahead of time can make your child feel more confident when he’s around kids who already know them.

Aquatic activities: Water activities such as swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

Archery: Campers use a bow to shoot arrows at targets. Sometimes referred to as “bow and arrow” instead.

Bathhouse: A camp building containing showers, sinks and toilets.

Bunk: A small bed, often stacked one on top of another. Campers often sleep in bunks. It can also be used to mean the building where campers sleep.

Cabin: A wooden building designed to house a group of campers.

Cabin assistant: A junior staff member who lives with campers and assists the senior cabin counselor. They are sometimes referred to as junior counselors or CITs (counselors-in-training).

Cabin counselor: A staff member who leads a group of campers and lives with them.

Camp staff: Everyone who works at a summer camp. That includes people who work in the kitchen, office, maintenance areas and health care building.

Canteen: A store selling items for campers, such as snacks.

Care package: A package sent by parents, often containing food, cards, books and magazines, or toys. Not all camps allow care packages.

Closing day: The final day of camp.

Counselor lounge: A room or building just for cabin counselors.

Infirmary: The building where health-care staff distribute medications, see campers with health complaints and provide overnight care.

Lodge: A building often used for assemblies or other activities.

Mess hall: Another word for dining hall.

Opening day: The first day of a camp session.

Puppetry: Campers make puppets and produce puppet shows.

Riflery: A camp activity that teaches campers rifle safety and target shooting.

Seasonal staff: Camp staff members working only during the camp season as opposed to year-round.

Visiting day: A special day for friends and family to visit. This is common in camps that run for multiple weeks.

You may also want to ask the camp for a list of camp facilities, including the names of cabins and different buildings. You can go over these with your child on a map before he leaves. The more you can prepare your child for camp, the smoother the transition will be.

About the Author

About the Author

Erica Patino, MA 

is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT 

is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.

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