Packing for summer camp can be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be. Before you hire your child their own personal Sherpa, take a look at our tips to simplify your packing:
Sun protection - Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses. Go for a higher SPF than normal and make sure that your child knows they will need to reapply it regularly! Don’t pack expensive sunglasses; these always get lost first. Hats should shade the neck and ears, as well as the face.
Rainy days - Don’t bother with an umbrella. Most kids don’t use them, and they are easily lost or broken. Pack a compact raincoat or a waterproof jacket instead, with a hoodie or sweatshirt for warmth.
Wardrobe - Don’t pack anything your child wouldn’t normally wear at home. If they have a regular rotation of three shirts, shorts, and a long pair of pants, chances are pretty good that they won’t even look at the sweatpants you’ve included ‘just in case.’ Most camps have laundry facilities in case of emergencies. Be conservative. Pack a shopping bag for dirty clothes. At most, pack flip flops, runners, and rubber boots.
Medication and toiletries - Most camps have specific policies about medication. Make sure that you and your child understand these rules before you drive away. Label everything with your child’s name, details about the medication, and your contact information. Pack only the toiletries your child would use in a normal summer week. If you’ve never seen them touch lip balm before, chances are pretty good they won’t use it now.
Personal objects - Depending on the camp, your child may not be allowed to bring electronics, music, toys, or other personal items. If you pack a camera, make sure it’s not an expensive one. Check with the camp before you pack these objects to avoid issues later on. Some kids like a letter or pictures from home in their luggage; for other kids, this can trigger homesickness. Consider carefully!
Other items - If the camp has included something unusual on their packing list, feel free to call and ask for clarification. Decide whether or not your child will really need it.
Safety - Always pack a flashlight with spare batteries. Make sure your child has your contact information, and the information of at least two other reliable adults. Make sure you know what the camp’s rules are regarding calls home. If your child is worried about homesickness, write down a phrase they can say to let you know they are having trouble; calls are always placed near a camp counselor, and your child may not feel safe expressing their feelings within earshot of other campers.
Allison Percival, B.A., B.Ed., is the Assistant Publisher for Calgary's Child Magazine.
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