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Countdown to Summer Camp

The hard part is over. You’ve picked the place, you’ve picked the dates. Your child is now ready to embark on another life-changing outing to Summer Camp – almost. There are still those pesky details like planning, packing and preparing your child for a week, or two, away from home.

While the routines of home may be comfortable and familiar, the excitement of camp should not be overshadowed by mishaps and misadventures that come from a lack of planning. Typically lack of planning is on account of lack of organization, not knowing how to get organized.

Here are a few tips:

Prepare for the known and the unknown. It may be obvious that they need a sleeping bag and pillow. It may not be obvious they need a flashlight and extra pair of woolen socks for rainy days. Think through every possible scenario, including bad weather and minor injuries and plan ahead.

• First, make a list of everything your child needs. If the camp provides a list, add it to your own. Organize your list by subjects: clothing, medications, safety, personal, rainy days, snacks and toiletries.

• Under each subject heading, list what your child needs. For instance, they don’t need a change of clothes for each day. Less is always more, but especially at camp. Don’t forget a bathing suit and towel, and sandals will be good for the beach and visits to the communal showers.

• If writing their names in clothing, use a black marker and write their first, middle and last initial on the item’s instruction tag.

• Under medications, include two lists of instructions, one for your child and one for their camp counselor. Under safety, don’t forget a flashlight, insurance information and emergency contact numbers (you may need to provide these to the camp before hand).

• Under personal, bear in mind that camp is about making memories and forging new friendships. Your child may appreciate a disposable camera and journal. A black marker is always handy at camp, and pencils work best in cold weather. For those rainy days, include waterproof clothing, an extra pair of socks and a deck of playing cards.

• When it comes to snacks, remember, camp is communal. Consider packing homemade cookies or other special treat for your child to share with bunkmates. They should also have a water bottle with their name clearly marked on it.

• Toiletries can be packed in Zip Loc bags, one for toothpaste and toothbrush, one for shampoo and soap, one for suntan lotion and lip protector. Smaller items like keys or money can be stored in waterproof containers. You can even buy waterproof maps if applicable to the camp.

• Try to pack it all in a soft suitcase and leave enough room for clothes scrunched up on the way home. You may also want to place an old, empty pillowcase on the bottom of the suitcase for dirty laundry. Have your child write on it in black marker, ‘Dirty Laundry.’ An empty plastic bag will be handy for that swimsuit that’s still wet come the last day of camp.

• Two weeks before camp, start packing and checking off your list. Don’t pack clothes until one or two days before they leave, since your child may want to wear them one last time before heading out on the great adventure called Summer Camp.

• On their way out the door, tell them you love them – and it’s okay to call if they need you.

Mira is a professional organizer and president of Paper Tiger Consultants. For more information, she can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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