School’s out and summer camp may just be the happiest place on earth. The days of carefree fishing by the lake, crafting macramé bracelets, and singing campfire songs are woven into many a childhood memory. It’s where kids learn new skills, enjoy the great outdoors, and make new friends — sometimes for life.
Summer camp can be a wonderful, formative experience, but also a scary prospect for kids who have never been away from home for an extended period of time.
If you’re a camp director, church group leader, or youth coach preparing to welcome a gaggle of children to summer camp, then you know how important it is to bring kids together and make everyone feel equal. Getting kids excited about summer camp is essential, whether it’s just a day camp or all summer long.
A great way to initiate camaraderie among campers right from the start is with matching kids’ custom t-shirts. When all the kids receive the same shirt to wear at camp, they feel like they are part of the same community right away. It’s a way to level the playing field, ease tension, and extend a warm welcome before summer camp begins.
Here’s some background about how to choose the best t-shirts in time for summer camp this year.
There are so many types of summer camps, it seems there’s one for every personality and interest. Each kind of camp can influence the style of t-shirt you choose, or what you want your shirts to say. Here are a few common places where camp shirts will really shine:
Girl Scout or Boy Scout camps offer fun ways for troops to bond while enjoying teamwork activities, learning new leadership skills, earning patches, and getting to know different people and cultures. T-shirts make a great casual complement to scout apparel like vests and sashes.
Families who are affiliated with a church or are part of a church community often send their kids to religious summer camp. Sometimes these are associated with their school, neighborhood, or congregation. Religious camps might focus on learning scripture, performing acts of service and volunteering, and even adventure activities.
Summer camp shirts are a great way to help campers feel like they’re part of the family. Customized t-shirts can be printed with your religious icon, or even feature verses from the bible.
From horseback riding, to sailing, to theater, to soccer, there’s a camp for every interest. Kids can learn new hobbies, practice their skills, and brush up on teamwork and sportsmanship at the same time. Competitions or performances might take place at the end of the month or end of the summer — a great time to flash a fun costume, new uniform, or camp shirt!
Kids often go to day camp during the summer while their parents work from 9:00 to 5:00. T-shirts can help make camp exciting and fun, even if the kids aren’t traveling long distances or sleeping over. As campers may be feeling homesick, matching t-shirts for campers will help them feel like part of the group.
Also called overnight camp or sleep-away camp, these camps host kids for extended periods, and sometimes all summer long. Overnight camps can be intensive academic or sports camps set on a campus or training center, or more laid-back nature camps set in the remote woods.
Perhaps the most common and comfortable camp “uniform” is the t-shirt. Especially when it comes to kids clothing, choosing a range of sizes in girls’ and boys’ styles (or just going with gender-neutral tees) is a good way to go. Plus, it’ll give the camper the perfect shirt to get dirty while having fun, and a great “souvenir” to bring home with them once the summer is through.
As you’re selecting your custom camp shirts, consider that kids typically go for comfort over style. Choose shirts that are loose and relaxed, with short sleeves and at least partial cotton fabric. Bright colors and eye-catching graphics can be fun for kids, so be sure to consider the wide rage of colors available when selecting your shirts.
Here are some popular camp t-shirts based on material and style:
T-shirts for every day
Many summer camps make the most of the outdoors, but some play it up more than others. Think sports camps like soccer or football camp, or wilderness camp where hiking, biking, and outdoor games are the highlight of each day. In these scenarios, you’ll want to choose affordable summer camp t-shirts that are durable, breathable, and easy to wash.
Made of a favorite material for warm climes, custom printed Gildan ultra cotton youth tees are a solid choice. The breathable cotton material will keep campers comfortable all day long, whether hiking through the woods, acting out a play on stage, or learning to roast marshmallows. These preshrunk shirts come in a wide range of colors.
Another perennial favorite is the custom Gildan DryBlend Youth T-shirt. These shirts are made of a fifty/fifty blend of cotton and polyester. Blending cotton and polyester combines the moisture wicking benefits of polyester with the warmth and softness of cotton. Unlike a fully polyester performance shirt, which is less durable and more prone to snags and tears, the 50% cotton component bolsters the shirt’s durability factor, making it a good choice for day hikes through thick forests or orienteering adventures over rocks and brambles.
Blending fabrics like this can also achieve a certain look, like the mottled pattern in “heather grey” t-shirts. Polyblend shirts like this also tend to resist stains — great for mud puddles and painting classes.
T-shirts that feel great
If you need something high-quality for all types of activities, try a cotton youth tee. You may not have known it, but cotton shirts have a material weight to them — usually between 3 and 6.1 ounces. This number represents the weight of the fabric per square yard.
T-shirts that weigh 3 to 5 ounces are considered lightweight and, while perfect for summer, may not hold up to an active camper’s daily activities. On the other hand, shirts that are around 5 to 5.6 ounces are still light enough to be comfortable in the heat, but heavy enough to withstand the elements — whether it’s a cool breeze, a water balloon fight, or climbing up the branches of a tree.
Kids going off to summer camp often receive a packing list of essentials, like bathing suits, flip flops, sun hats, and multiple changes of clothes. Sometimes, summer camps like to offer additional items for their summer campers to help ensure everyone is well prepared.
Depending on your budget, location, and preference, consider other essentials like mini bottles of customized sunscreen branded with your camp name and information; custom wristbands to easily identify campers by age, ability, or cabin; and first-aid kits — great for active adventure camps or extended overnight trips.
Create t-shirts summer campers will love
Of course, the best part about camp t-shirts is the opportunity to personalize them and make them your own. T-shirts can be printed with custom logos, text, and even full-color photos. Put your camp logo on a different color t-shirt every year, or design a totally new look each summer.
For a more polished effect, consider personalizing your shirts with custom embroidery — a nice idea for heavier cotton shirts or youth polo shirts.
Consider using splashy colors and fun graphics to appeal to young campers, while older teenage campers may enjoy shirts with funny sayings or a cool image. Images of mountains, trees, canoes, and campfires, customized with your camp name and the year can be a big hit for many summers to come.
Camp is a time to get kids outside, learning new things, and making forever friends. For many, the summer experience starts with the right t-shirt.