Packing for summer camp

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru,

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Most sleep-away camps will send a packing checklist to get you started
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Begin packing several weeks in advance to avoid last minute shopping trips or scrambles to find that 'must-have' favorite shirt.

Summer camp is more than a vacation; it's a place where a child can develop independence, new skills and the ability to make friends. Summer camp can do so much - encourage an appreciation of the outdoors, foster a spirit of teamwork and cooperation and enable your child to explore talents, interests and values.

To help your child have a successful time at camp this summer, preparation is important. Since your child will be very excited to head off to camp (and perhaps a little apprehensive if this is the first time), it's in your best interest to help him/her pack.

Create a packing list

Create a camp packing list using the recommended list from the camp. Add the other items that your child or teen may need, such as eyeglasses, medication, orthodontic devices, etc. Be sure to check with camp policy regarding medication, as you may need to get doctors' statements or copies of prescriptions to send with your child.

A new pair of pajamas or comfy lounging pants and top make the excitement of overnights at camp even more special. But you should avoid the temptation to buy brand-new activewear, jeans and shorts for your camper. While one or two new items are fine, camp life can be a bit rough on clothing. Children, especially first-timers, will also find "old favorites" reassuring when away from home.

Make a shopping list

Highlight all of the items on the list that you will need to purchase. Go through your child's summer wardrobe and have your child try on items that may have become too small over the past year so that you can add them to the list if needed—this is particularly true of bathing suits, which may be too small even when other items still fit.

Packing for camp
  • Three weeks before camp, begin shopping for items your child needs to take to camp. This task should take about one week, but the extra time will allow you to locate items that are out of stock or harder to find than you anticipated.

  • Purchase an extra set of hygiene items for your child so that the items can be packed and he/she will not have to remember the day that camp begins. For example, purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste to pack and leave their home set at home.

  • Label all of your items with his/her name. This is important. You can go online and order press-on labels for clothing, towels, etc. Use water repellant markers for other items.

  • A "stuff" bag for your teen's sleeping bag and pillow is a must. A rolled sleeping bag always comes unraveled when walking through camp.

  • Place toiletries in a type of plastic bag kit or plastic basket that would make it easy to travel to the showers. The kit should be big enough to hold shower shoes/flip flops.

  • The day before your child leaves for camp, recheck the list, pack up all of the gear and close the bag.
Tips when packing for summer camp:
  • Make a list of what is packed and include it with your child's belongings, so she knows what she's bringing

  • Familiarize yourself with any camp regulations regarding food and money

  • Include plastic bags or a laundry bag for wet or dirty clothing

  • Encourage your child to pack a favorite picture or stuffed animal as a reminder of home

  • Include some stamped envelopes or pre-addressed postcards and sharpened pencils or ball point pens.

  • Do not pack things that are on the 'not allowed' list. This will just cause problems for your child when they arrive at camp. If you have concerns about something on the forbidden list, talk with the camp director before your child leaves.

  • Stick a note in your child's bag where it will be found in the first couple of days just so he/she will know you're thing about.

  • Buy a couple of books by your child's favorite author or the next few books in the series they're reading. Books are great to have for rainy days or other "down time"

Other sleep-away camp tips:
  • Send a letter to your child at camp before camp begins to that she will have a letter waiting for her on that first, very important day.

  • Look into your camp's phone call regulations and discuss them with your child. If the camp has a no phone calls policy, then honor it and make sure your child also understands this policy. If you do plan to make calls, then reach an agreement ahead of time with your child on when and how often.

  • Care packages can be the highlight of your child's day when at camp, but think smart when putting one together. Check with the camp regarding guidelines on food as many do not allow it. If you do send food, be sure to include enough for everyone in the cabin!
Packing for camp is the beginning of an exciting time for your child. Get them involved and excited as you start shopping and they'll be counting down the days until camp begins. If this article was enjoyable and helpful, summer camp tips would be another article right up your ally in preparing your child for the summer of his/her life.

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