It is a very busy time of year. Graduation is around the corner, kids are preparing for final exams and you have less than 50 days until the buses depart for summer camp. So how do you prepare your kids for their summer away from home, making sure you don’t leave anything behind? Packing might feel overwhelming so we asked Michele Gershwin from The Camp Experts and Teen Summers to give us some advice on how to pack for sleepaway camp.
First, the good news is that they will leave behind their electronic devices. Yes, one of the best things about sending your kids to sleepaway camp is that most of the sleepaway camps I work with DO NOT allow electronics of any kind. That’s right, they will have to say goodbye to Instagram, Snapchat, Visco, Fortnite and Tik Tok for the next few weeks. While some programs will allow a Kindle, iPod touch or nano, always remind your kids that the summer is a great time to unplug and get back in touch with nature. If you are like me, you will probably sneak a book or two into their bag, in case they ever want it. Reading is one of the best ways to unwind after a long summer day, so don’t forget to pack two flashlights and back up batteries.
Second, always check your camp’s official packing list and print it out. Each sleepaway camp is unique, some require a uniform and others will make a suggestion of exactly how many t-shirts, bathing suits, etc. to pack. You will definitely need a soft trunk or two and a bus bag for the last minute essentials. Most parents like to pack a surprise to help ease the separation once they have loaded the bus or plane with a quick note to say, “Hope you have the best summer!” As a camp advisor, I think it really helps the child to know that you are never too far away. A little note from home always helps the time on the bus or plane go by a little quicker. Keep it short, sweet and simple.
Also make sure to label EVERYTHING either with a sticker which will stay on even after the camp laundry is done, iron-on labels or a stamp with your child’s last name on it. Remember, if you have younger siblings and plan to pass down clothing or toys, it is best to not put their first name on it. Just the last name will make it last longer for many years to come. Also, it’s important to involve your child in packing. Have them check off each item as it goes into the bag so when they get to camp they are not only familiar with what you sent them, they can also easily find things on their own. Going to sleepaway camp is a terrific learning experience. They will not only learn to make their bed and clean the bunk (yes, those are two things you can expect when they return home) but it is also about independence. Counselors are always available to help, but what a great feeling it is for campers to be able to find things on their own without needing an adult’s help. Camp not only helps kids to grow but can often increase their confidence and self-esteem.
Finally, this list would not be complete without one essential “do not” that I have learned throughout the years. Please do not make your child leave their favorite stuffed animal or cherished blanket behind. Remember, most kids do bring them (even when they’re older) and they are a huge source of comfort. It is very important to pack pictures from home, an address book full of people they might want to write letters to and posters or pictures for the wall next to their bed. Kids really like to decorate and make their bed feel like home. A few stuffed animals or toys (like a Rubik’s cube, a nerf football, gel pens, and mad libs) to play with during their downtime will be much appreciated, just don’t let them go overboard!
Click here for the complete list of Michele’s Camp Shopping List.
About Michele Gershwin
Michele Gershwin has a diverse background in communications and sports business with a strong passion for family wellness. As a mother of two girls, Michele has a tremendous appreciation for the importance of camp and travel in the healthy development of a child’s life. Michele attended sleepaway camp for many years when she was younger, as well as multiple tennis camps, teen travel programs and participated in a pre-college educational summer program before college. All of these experiences led her to a deep love for camp, the great outdoors and all summer activities which she then used to fuel her business as a camp consultant at The Camp Experts and Teen Summers. She is very passionate about working with families to help them find the perfect summer programs for their children. Michele also teaches children’s yoga at schools and camps and she loves being outdoors with her two dogs. Michele is a graduate of the University of Michigan and currently lives in Westchester, NY. Website: https://www.campexperts.com/ or Camp Shopping List. Instagram: @campexpert_michele
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