10 Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

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The time has come – you have picked a camp, submitted forms, pick electives – and now it is time to start packing.  Think of this more as a marathon than a sprint.  Start early – don’t wait until the last minute!

  1.  Buy high quality labels.  Labels have come a long way since my mother had to sew millions of printed labels on every piece of clothing.  I have used these labels for years and they stay on the tags of clothing really well.  They also make labels for water bottles, shoes and anything else you can think of.  The biggest problem I had was labeling black socks.  If you want socks back – buy white ones where you can use a black sharpie.
  2. Involve your camper.  Bring him to target, let her pick-out her shampoo.  Most importantly your kid needs to be involved in the packing.  It was actually a great bonding time for my son and I.  Running through target at night – and getting his opinions on bedding.
  3. Follow the camps suggestions carefully.  There is limited space for your camper to keep their things in the bunk.  If you decide to send 4 sets of sheets instead of 2 there will be no place to put it.  This list will also contain special items that they might need.  My camper needed a plain white shirt for a tie-dye project.  It might also tell you special color items of clothing for color wars or special dress-up items.
  4. Buy good quality duffel bags – I was going back and forth with whether to buy cheap bags or nice ones like these.  I decided with the nice ones.  I don’t want to waste money buying new ones every year if the cheap ones break.  These bags will last and I figured he can take them to college!
  5. Pre-stamp, pre-address, and pre-return address all stationary.  The goal is to remove all barriers to letter writing.  It is the most wonderful thing when you get that letter from your camper.  It might be totally spelled wrong, or it might say almost nothing – but it is still awesome!
  6. Find a Mom from your camp to pick her brain!  If you have a friend with an older kid at your camp – take them out to coffee and ask all of your questions.  If not, ask the camp to introduce you to someone.  This person can give you all the tips about the best way to pack and of course the things your camper “needs” that isn’t on the list.  Some wise Mom’s last year told me that the campers love to bring pillow “husbands,” a rug for the end of their bed, and a plastic drawers to go on top of the cubby.
  7. Find out what the “currency” is.  In my day we all brought “cool” stationary to trade and pet when we played card games.  My son was allowed to bring gum last summer.
  8. Make your camper try on all of the clothes they are planning to bring – new or old.  These kids can grow a lot in a year.  Make sure everything fits and that they actually will wear it.  Don’t send fancy stuff – it all comes back pretty lived in.  
  9. Start gathering things now!  Packing for camp is more like a marathon then a sprint.  If you start buying things now – labels, duffles, camp t-shirts and pile them in a closet you will be in good shape when camp begins.
  10. While writing this list I asked my son for his tips.  He said….  Extra underwear!!!  I followed the packing list closely but for whatever reason that was not enough underwear for my son. Whoops….

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