Packing Tips for a Child going to Sleep away Camp

Packing for my kids trip to camp was always an adventure. As a veteran of a dozen summers of this enterprise, these tips could be recited in my sleep. Before you start the effort, read through the list of camp rules and activities. You need to be armed with this information to know what and how much to include in the packing.

Some simple questions come to mind. How many days will the child be away? Do the children have to furnish their own bedding, and what type should it be? Is it sleeping bags, or pillows, sheets, and blankets? What type of sporting gear will they need? These questions should be answered in the information furnished with the application. If it isn’t, contact someone who can tell you. You really can’t pack adequately without it.

Try not to over pack. Remember, it’s camp. Your child isn’t leaving home for good. Use the smallest bags that you can because your child may have to carry them a long distance. For most young people, anything over 20 feet is a long way. A clothing bag is handy if dress clothes are required. Use a large duffel or back pack for anything that can be folded. Fold everything that you can.

If bedding is required, send a sleeping bag over sheets and blankets unless you are instructed otherwise. A sleeping bag is much more manageable for most youth. A small pillow that can be rolled up in the bag is a plus.

Pack about 1 1/2 outfits per day if play in mud isn’t the only activity. An outfit can be worn during the day. At supper, a change into fresh clothing will be good for less active evening events at most camps. This outfit can then be worn tomorrow. Packing 1 or 2 extra outfits will give your child a change in case something unexpected happens. Double the amount of underwear. Include at least one extra pair of shoes if you have them.

Most camps require campers to bring their own soap, shampoo, and towels. A bottle of liquid soap can cover the first two items. Pack two towels for boys and 3-4 for girls. A boy can rotate with one towel each day. A girl usually likes a separate towel for her hair. You can judge this one based on your child’s hair style and preferences.

Assemble all sporting gear that is needed. Label everything with your child’s name, address, and phone number. I personally like to include the words “stolen from” just above the name. It sends a message to those who might be inclined to make you child’s things their own. Use a permanent marker on everything you can. This applies to clothing, too. If you want it to come home, label it.

First aid and medicine is next. Most camps want all medicines given to the camp nurse at the beginning of camp. Only send the amount of medicine required during the stay. Send it in a prescription bottle if it is a prescribed medication. Over-the-counter medicines should be sent with instructions and labeled with your child’s name. The nurse will have any bandages or other minor items that might be needed to take care of scratches and the like.

Avoid anything that might be considered a weapon. Leave the pocket knives and 9 inch nail files at home. Pack a comb and/or brush, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and other personal care items in a separate pouch, and include it inside a large piece.

Don’t forget money. It’s not the time to dole out the inheritance, but make sure your child has enough cash to last the duration of camp. Most camps sell cans of soft drinks, souvenirs, and food items. Your child may have to buy a meal going to camp and coming home from camp. I usually recommend between $20 and $50 for a 4-5 day camp.

Check with the people leading the group to camp for more precise numbers. Try to arrange for most of the money to be held by a chaperon who can make sure it finds its way to your child when needed.