April 15, 2024
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So Campy: 12 Top Tips For Getting Your Kids Ready for Camp

It’s that time again! Every year, like clockwork, mosquitos start filling the air, and the summer excitement begins to build. Graduations are happening all around us and everyone is anticipating the end of the school year and beginning of summer break!

If you are a parent that is sending your child to sleep away camp this summer, you’re probably already working on the lists of things you’ve got to purchase and pack and prep so your kids arrive at camp fully prepared!

Now, you may be thinking “I’ve been packing my kids’ camp stuff for years—I know how this works!” but it’s still really important to make and follow a list, so your 12-year-old daughter doesn’t find herself without Shabbos shoes or bathing suits for the first week and a half of camp. (Hi Mom. I imagine you don’t remember that oversight. I have not forgotten. Signed, your 30-something year old daughter.)

If it’s your first time packing up your kids for camp, then hopefully this handy collection of tips and resources will be even more helpful to you as you go about your packing process.  Before you pack, you might also decide that your best bet is to find the cheapest camp clothing available, since lots of it will probably not make it home or get wrecked in the laundry.

1. Some camps require hard trunks and some forbid them, allowing only duffle bags. Find out your kids’ camps requirements before you invest in any luggage options. Also be sure to find out how far in advance your luggage is picked up, or if it is sent with your child.

2. Most camps allow parents to email their kids but kids get to write back the old-fashioned way, with ink on paper. Imagine that. Be sure to send self-addressed, stamped envelopes and some cute stationary they’re actually going to want to use! Check out the beautifully designed “Notes From Camp” Stationary Box set from http://1canoe2.com

3. If you went to sleep away camp when you were younger, you probably remember the “prison issued” blue and white striped mattress you slept on, right? It’s likely some kid will be sleeping on that very same mattress this summer. Do your kid a favor, send a pillow top or foam mattress pad and mattress cover.

4. Labeling all the clothes. Everyone knows this is one of the hallmarks of the camp experience. Remember that most everyday clothes will not come back in tip-top shape. You can invest the time and effort in iron-on or self-stick labels, available at a number of online sites including http://label-land.com or, you can invest in a sharpie marker. Quick Tip* For dark colored garments, use a metallic silver sharpie.

5. Camp is a great place for kids to get creative in their down time. Send drawing paper, markers and other easy art supplies, to keep their creative muscles pumping and boredom at bay.

6- If your kids have to fly and have weight limitations on their baggage, or if bag space is simply limited, consider pre-ordering toiletries from CVS.com and having them shipped to the camp location ahead of time. Remember to make sure the package is addressed to your kid’s name and their bathroom essentials should be waiting for them when they get to camp. Some things you might not want to forget: Band-Aids, Neosporin, mosquito repellant, sunscreen (the kind that’s easy to apply), toothpaste, toothbrush, extra bars of soap, deodorant, shaving supplies, clip-on fan, flashlights with extra batteries, a stainless steel water bottle, safety pins for sock pairing. You can even ship an iron if your kids are opposed to wrinkled clothes!

7- Speaking of, when packing your trunk or duffle, here’s a great space saving solution that also helps to eliminate wrinkles: Roll your clothing. Stacking items wastes precious space and re-enforces the wrinkles. When rolled, items can be packed tighter and generally stay wrinkle free.

8- Consider purchasing under-bed bins for extra storage. You can use plastic lidded ones and send them on the bus with your kids, or try some that fold flat and can be filled at the bunkhouse. You can find some great options on Amazon.com.

9- If your child is a girl, make sure to send a long cotton terry cloth robe for the pool. Much more convenient and useful than a towel, it will get constant use. Also, make sure she has skirts she can play sports in—slinky, stretch fabrics that move, not pencil skirts that will have her, well, running like a girl.

If your child is a boy, make sure you have enough Tzizit and teach them how to wrap them for washing!

10- Blanket or sleeping bag… that is the question! Generally, you’re going to want to send a blanket no matter what. Unless your kid looooves a sleeping bag, chances are they will only be used for overnights and camping. If your child isn’t likely to be sleeping out in the woods, you may even be able to skip the sleeping bag entirely. Find out in advance what will be expected.

11- Remember, unlike the 80’s, when it took forever to ship a pair of Shabbat shoes and a bathing suit, if you do forget something, you can always have it shipped to arrive the next day. However, remember that your kid is going to end up with a lot more stuff than he started out with, so plan on bringing things home on visiting day, otherwise, there’s no way he’s gonna fit it all for the return trip.

There is a lot more to remember so make sure to check out the packing list provided by your camp but take into account your child’s personality and their favorite pass times and note that those lists are NEVER complete. Here’s one final tip before I offer you a few resources. Laundry in a camp environment can often be less than reliable. With the Nine Days plus the week before and / or after, it can often be a long time between washings. Make sure you provide enough socks and underwear to last for three weeks if laundry services become scarce. It can and does happen. Also, buy matching socks in bulk so pairing is not an issue, and don’t expect anything to come home in decent condition. Great if something does, but don’t expect it.

A great online resource: Denny’s Childrenswear. http://www.dennyschildrenswear.com/ Shop online or in their store for camp clothes and accessories and they will ship them, for free, to your kids’ camp! How convenient is that?

For a comprehensive camp packing list check out Murray The Sock Man at http://www.murraythesockman.com/

By Tova Gold

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