There are tons of camp packing lists out there – but do they include all of these useful things that you may not have thought about?
10 Things to Bring:
1. Toiletries. Kids will need soap (body wash avoids gloopy bar soap syndrome), shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush/comb and a suitable bag to keep them in. Check if your camp requires biodegradable/earth-friendly products or be an eco-mama and buy them anyway. And don’t forget the little things, like lots of bands to tie hair back for swimming or running laps.
2. Protection. Sunscreen; bug repellent and after-bite balm (as natural as possible); water bottle; sunglasses; SPF lip balm; hats (sun and rain proof); medications in original containers; EpiPens and inhalers if used, including extras.
3. Glow Bracelets. For campers afraid of the dark. Once it’s "lights out" and flashlights are tucked away, some kids may be left a bit fearful of what is lingering out there in the dark. Send them with a pack of glow bracelets. Each is bright enough to give them comfort, without being so bright that it bothers bunkmates.
4. Spare sleeping bag. Do you have a bed wetter? Camps can set up the perfect arrangement to ensure privacy and confidentiality around this issue. Quite simply, send your child up with two identical sleeping bags. The spare can be kept in the camp office. Each morning when campers go for their morning dip or head off for breakfast, a staff member can inspect the bed wetter’s sleeping bag. If there has been an accident, they can perform the sleeping bag switcheroo, replacing the wet bag with the clean one. This routine means the child is never required to report a bed wetting; it just gets magically taken care of. Simple and respectful.
5. Stationery with pre-stamped envelopes. Special pens and stickers might help with inspiration. Taking along a notebook is great for jotting down contact details for new camp friends and collecting autographs and messages, making it a tangible souvenir that will last longer than any easily deleted electronic one.
6. A disposable or cheap digital camera. To take photos and also to view and share saved photos of friends and loved ones. This is handy if your kids get lonely too.
7. Spare glasses or contact lenses. You could also get their eyes checked not too long before they leave so you have a recent prescription in case you need to buy and courier them replacements.
8. A headlamp. If you have a kid who likes to read in bed, a headlamp beats any old flashlight by providing hands-free light for your little page turner. It’s easier to focus on the words on the page if they’re not trying to hold a flashlight at the same time.
9. Odds and Sods. Don’t forget the bits and pieces that kids miss at camp: nail clippers, safety pins, sticky tape, craft supplies and a deck of cards.
10. A journal. Small enough to hide.
10 Things to Leave at Home:
1. Heavily scented body sprays. Though they’re beloved by many young teens, they attract bugs and repel friends, so keep those at home.
2. Brand new gear. New clothes won’t stay that way for long, and besides, camp is not a high-fashion event!
3. Shoes that don’t fit properly. Packing brand new shoes or footwear that might be too big or too small runs the risk of causing blisters. Keep campers comfortable with tried and true footwear.
4. Cell phones. They could get lost/broken/stolen, and camp is about a slower pace, introspection and growing as an individual by adapting to new surroundings and people. Time to disconnect! As much as you may appreciate being able to reach your kids directly and vice-versa, it may be worth fighting the urge to do so for both your sakes.
5. Portable video game systems. Again, avoid the tears over lost, broken or stolen electronic items.
6. Fine jewelry and expensive watches. Pick up a cheap waterproof watch or better yet, ditch the timepiece altogether – it is summer, after all!
7. Food & snacks. Critters and other unwelcomed guests will find their way into tents and cabins if you’ve packed food. Save your camper’s favourite snacks and meals for their homecoming.
8. A bad attitude. This is the time to make memories and friends. Encourage your kid to head off to camp with a desire to try everything, meet everyone and, above all else, have fun.
9. A stuffy or lovey (for the older campers). If your older camper can get by without it, best to avoid the chance they might be teased. Try bringing a pillow or blanket as a comfort item instead.
10. Unlabeled gear. At camp, labeled gear is mandatory. Don’t let your kids’ flip flops, sleeping bag or even backpack be mistaken for their bunkmate’s. Take the time to throw labels on everything before they go.