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7 Tips for Packing for Sleepaway Camp

Holy moly.. It’s really happening. Your kids are going away to sleepaway summer camp (maybe for the first time?). Excited you’ll have enough time to brush your hair but incredibly anxious that complete strangers are responsible for your kids for a whole week? We know, we’ve been there. Everything WILL BE FINE. They’re going to have a blast, you’re going to have some time to breathe. Use the guide below to help your kids pack and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

  1. Check in with their camp!

    If your child is going to an indoor, sleepaway art camp, chances are they won’t need three bottles of bug spray, a headlamp, and a tent. Look into the specifics of the location and their programming, and make sure you’re packing the appropriate supplies for the activities planned.

  2. Don’t pack their bag to the brim

    Unless you have a miracle child, they won’t bring home a suitcase with perfectly folded clothes. Leave some room so they don’t break their suitcase trying to zipper it closed with stuffed clothes.

  3. Address hangry before it happens

    Let’s be honest, you don’t want to get a call from the head counselor telling you your son has been raiding the cafeteria in the middle of the night! Pack an arsenal of portable, shelf-stable snacks to keep hangry moments at bay (and don’t forget to pack a few extras they can share with their friends). Our favorite camp approved snacks are our Mini Go Packs, Justin’s Snack Packs, Veggie Straws, Z-bars, and just a few small packs of candy for camp trades. If your kids are camping in a very rural area where wild animals might be an issue, we recommend calling the camp ahead of time to see if there is a safe place for kids to store their snacks.

  4. Write down your child’s needs

    It may be hard to remember exactly what your child needs on a regular basis when you’re not used to being apart. We recommend carrying a notepad in your purse or creating a note on your phone to document any notable things your child needs, several weeks before they leave for camp. For example, does your child have a stuffy nose when they wake up in the morning and always request tissues? Is their skin sensitive to certain detergent? Do they pick their scabs (yuck) if they don’t have fun Disney bandaids? It’s easy to forget the little things day to day and writing them down can help you be more prepared. You can also share this note with your counselor, so she/he can be prepared ahead of time, instead of overwhelming them when they have minimal bandwidth.

  5. Prep a mailing kit for your kids

    Label, stamp, and stuff envelopes with blank paper. Let’s face it…as wonderful as a week—or month—to yourself sounds, you’re really going to miss your little ones. Make it as easy as possible for them to send you a letter.

  6. LABEL EVERYTHING

    This one is SO important. Make sure to label everything your camper brings with sharpie or stickers (depending on the material.) We promise you, your kids will lose supplies, and there will be arguments about who’s lamp belongs to who, when every kid inevitably brings the same supplies. Keep things simple for your camper and simple for you, so you’re not running around the camp trying to collect your things on pickup day (and so you can avoid a whole new shopping spree next year).

  7. Address homesickness

    If it’s your child’s first time away at summer camp, chances are they will be homesick. Make sure to pack them something special, whether it’s a picture, a note, a little gift, or a special stuffed animal that will remind them of home.

Anything we’re missing? What are your favorite camp packing tips and tricks?

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