You’ve chosen the camp you want your child to attend this summer and everything is ready to go. But, you have one more task – packing for the experience.
According to Dave Devey, director of Falcon Camp in Carrollton, about 30 miles south of Canton, and Aidan Stibora, program director at Red Oak Camp in Kirtland, packing can be a stressful activity. But, most camps give families a list of what campers can and can’t bring along.
“Camps will provide you a list of suggested things and you should follow it,” Devey said. “They didn’t create the list out of thin air. They learned over the years for that camp, these are the important things to have. As a parent, you should follow that list. If we tell you to bring eight shirts, that is how many you’ll need.”
For example, Stibora suggested campers bring basics like water bottles, sunscreen, a swimsuit and a towel.
“The most important thing to remember is if you get to camp and realize you forgot something, it’s not the end of the world,” he explained. “Just let your counselor know and they will do their best to find you an extra or contact your parents to drop it off.”
Both professionals said there are a few things campers shouldn’t bring to camp. Most s are common sense, but there are others campers and their families might not think of.
“The least important thing a lot of campers pack is their toys and games,” Stibora said. “Even if you do bring toys or games from home, you will probably be too busy with camp activities to use them. But in general, avoid packing electronics and weapons, even toys.”
Devey added campers shouldn’t bring anything of value – whether sentimental or monetary – to camp.
“Leave those things at home,” he said. “You’re just asking to lose it. It ruins your entire camp experience if you lose something or it breaks.”
When packing for camp, parents can also save a lot of headaches by planning ahead, whether that is following the list provided or doing some of their own organization.
“Parents should start by reviewing all the information their camp has shared with them,” Stibora explained. “Even if no packing list was included, knowing what your camper will be doing at camp will make planning a lot easier. If you’re packing for a tennis camp, your child will probably need a racket, but for nature camp, they likely will not. After reviewing your camp’s information, it is a good idea to make yourself a list and only check things off once they are in your camper’s bag.”
Devey suggested parents don’t wait until camp is around the corner to review the list or begin gathering the necessary items.
“You don’t wait until right before camp starts,” he noted. “You look and set those things aside. If you’re a camp veteran, you tend to have your clothes already. I would advise parents, especially of the younger kids, to go to Target, Kmart or Walmart to buy socks and underwear. That way, if you lose them, you won’t care because it was inexpensive. There is no point in having expensive pieces at camp. It isn’t a fashion show.”
Both professionals had more packing best practices to share. Devey said parents should make sure they label all clothing, whether with a sewn patch or black permanent marker. Stibora added parents should make sure they review everything before sending the child away, as well as only pack things that would be OK getting wet, muddy or even ruined.
Most importantly, campers should be included in packing rituals.
“Older campers can kind of pack themselves, but younger campers should definitely pack alongside their parents,” Devey said. “That way, they know what they have. You don’t want your kid to not know what they have.”
Stibora added, “You should try to include your camper while packing so that when they arrive at camp, they feel comfortable with their stuff and know where everything is. I have found so many swimsuits and bottles of sunscreen in the bags of campers who swore they forgot to pack them. Packing together can also ease the nervousness of camp for parents and children.”