Organize your kids for camp

It’s difficult to believe, but summer begins next week for those of us in the northern hemisphere. My to-do list is long and one of the items on that list is to help get my kids organized for camp. Like countless kids across the country, they’ll join their friends — and make new ones — at camp.

You can help make the experience even more pleasant for them with strategic planning before Jr. walks out the door.

All types of camps

You son or daughter will likely receive a list of requirements and suggestions from the camp itself. Start shopping for these items at least a week in advance, if not longer. This will avoid the last-second rush and allow you to label everything properly. Speaking of labels…

Get some labels for the kids’ clothing and other personal items. There are many of these available: Name Bubbles makes some cute ones, including a whole line meant to “…last all summer long.” Be sure to label items that she or he might take off, like hats, flip-flops, and t-shirts, as well as accessories like sunscreen and lunch boxes. If you don’t want to purchase labels, a permanent marker will do a good job, as well as a laundry marker.

Sleep away camp

It’s a good idea to provide your little camper with a Re-Pack list that he or she can check when preparing to come home. Stick it in your child’s bag and laminate it, if you can.

Also, only pack clothes and other items that can get lost without causing a big deal. That beloved, irreplaceable shirt that Jr. simply adores might not be the best choice for camp, no matter how cool it is.

Pack liquids and anything that might be attractive to pests in zip-top bags. Write on the bags the contents with permanent markers so items have a greater chance of returning to the bags.

Day camp

A lesson my family learned the hard way: don’t send your child’s nice school backpack to camp. It will get used, abused, and stuffed with sand, dirt, and who knows what else. Go out (again, well ahead of time) and buy an inexpensive bag that can get beat up because it will.

Similar to the Re-Pack list recommended for sleep-away camp, make a daily checklist for your child’s backpack/bag. Again, laminate the list so that you can write special daily items on it as reminders (like a plain white t-shirt for tie-dyeing one day) in addition to the regular things.

If swimming is a regular part of the camp, pack a large zip-top bag. Get the biggest one you can find so wet swimsuits and towels can be stored away from other items in the bag.

If you or your children regularly attended or attend summer camp, what additional tips would you share to keep kids organized? Feel welcome to leave them in the comments.

3 Comments for “Organize your kids for camp”

  1. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I’d also ensure their phone/mp3 player (should electronics be permitted at camp) is in a waterproof, indestructible case. Check out http://www.h2oaudio.ca (Canada) or http://www.swimoutlet.com/electronics-c10736/ (USA).

  2. posted by Sarah on

    When our children were younger campers, we made a clothing roll for each day and put them in large ziplocs, so that in the morning all they had to do was grab a bag and take it to the shower house. The ziploc helped keep them dry, and about every third bag had a pair of jeans. Worked great for them when they were less concerned about fashion! 🙂

  3. posted by Pat Reble on

    As veterans of Girl Guide and Scout camps, when it came to school camps the routine was that we went to the charity shop beforehand and picked out enough clothes for the time period concerned. At the end of each day they simply dropped their clothes in the bin, having been able to throw themselves whole-heartedly into every activity without worrying about stains and rips. The only thing that came home was their undies and their souvenirs, and if they got lost it was no big deal. Funny thing was, they never did as no one wants someone else’s undies! They still remember their camps 20 years on as a highlight of their school year. It’s another good example of less is more. And if they didn’t clean their teeth for a week, well the dentist never noticed!

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