If it’s your first time sending your little one off to camp for the summer, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed preparing for it. Just remember not to procrastinate on the packing process, because there are a lot of little things that are quite easy to forget. We would suggest you start packing at least a couple of weeks in advance, in order to give yourself a little leeway on time. The most important thing to remind yourself is that your children are not going off to stay at an all-inclusive hotel resort with room-service at their beck and call. They will be roughing it with nature, so any and all necessities you can think of will need to be added to their summer camp checklist.
We have put together a basic checklist of camp essentials your child will need for their summer away. Pair the checklist with a unique, personalized clipboard with your kid’s name, so they can take it to camp meetings. Also, it will help them not to lose the same checklist when it comes time to pack for their return home.
Since clothes and hygienic toiletries are a given, we won’t include those in the list below:
- Sleeping Bag or Light Bedding – Whether your child is catching some Z’s in a tent or a cabin equipped with bunk beds, the camp most likely will not provide many, if any, bedding options to keep them warm at night. A sleeping bag will do the trick, and a light monogrammed blanket may serve as a reminder of home and bring comfort to them when they get a case of homesickness.
- Swimsuit & Towels – Any summer camp will be near some sort of body of water, whether it be a swimming pool or a lake. Have them fully prepared from the cannonball in to the dripping walk out!
- Light Sweater – Summer nights can get plenty chilly, so a light jacket or sweater will keep the shivers away.
- Tennis Shoes & Flip Flops – Camp activities can range from anything as relaxed as arts and crafts to more vigorous activities like hiking in the woods. Consult the camp handouts and brochures, and make sure your kids have all the appropriate footwear.
- Sunscreen – Chances are that your little ones will be out in the sun for the majority of the trip. Protect them from harmful UV rays with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
- Insect Repellant – Itchy, throbbing, painful bites. Need we say more?
- Reusable Water Bottle – In order to reduce litter, the camp probably doesn’t hand out drinks and water bottles all willy nilly. A reusable water bottle will keep the thirst at bay between meal times and during strenuous activities.
- Non-electronic Entertainment/Games – One of the main reasons for summer camp – especially in this digital generation – is to get kids to step away from their electronic devices. Still, it’s impossible for the camp program to fill all hours of the day, so pack them a few non-electronic activities like board games, puzzles and cards for when boredom or restlessness approaches.
As parents, we’re sure it will be hard to let your children go – no matter how long or short the duration of the trip may be. However, don’t let the pre-camp thrill and excitement on your children’s faces fool you; many will experience homesickness, at least at one point in their trip, from the separation. Pack a family photo and some pre-stamped & addressed envelopes in preparation for this.
Most importantly, don’t worry too much and trust that this is a wonderful experience for your kids. Being on their own will be good for their personal growth, and they’ll be sure to come back with some lasting memories!