7 Things You Can Do to Get Ready for Camp

Ah, summer camp – that milestone rite of passage. At some point throughout the year you’ve signed your kids up for a week of glorious summer fun and then anxiously waited for that week to arrive. But there’s no rest for the weary. You still have work to get ready for the big week. Sending your kids off into the unknown can be a nail-biting experience but rest assured, you’re not alone. Here are a few helpful tips.

1. Follow the packing list.

I know, the list can look daunting but there’s a method to the madness. Have you ever been on vacation and packed too much stuff that was never worn, and it got in the way? That’s what happens when you pack too much for your kid. You’ll be amazed to find out that everything on that packing list actually fits in one bag and will get used.

2. Label…Label…Label

I’m one of those moms who labels everything, and yes…that includes underwear. Not because I need to keep tabs on everything, but rather it’s easier for our kids to keep track of their stuff and not get mixed up with another camper’s stuff. I can’t tell you how gross it is to sort through the laundry when they get home only to find some other kids dirty underwear mixed in with their clothes. You can buy labels pretty much anywhere these days. Don’t forget to label items such as toothbrushes, towels, water bottles, flashlights, etc.

3. Ziploc bags are your friend.

Warning: Type-A mom alert but stick with me for a moment.
The first time my girls went away to camp they were seven and eight. They still had me pick out their outfits in the morning, so the thought of sending them to camp with a bag full of clean clothes was a little unnerving. I pack each day’s outfit in a large Ziploc bag and include a pair of underwear in each bag too. You can save some money and buy the generic brand at your local dollar store. This saves them from rummaging through their bags and tossing clean clothes everywhere. When they’ve worn the clothes, they can either toss them in a laundry bag that you pack or put them back in the Ziploc bag. My girls are a bit older now, so I don’t do this for my oldest, but my nine-year-old still asks me to do this. She says it makes it easier for her to get ready in the morning.

4. Don’t be surprised by your mixed feelings of emotions.

Although my kids have been going to camp for a few years now, I still get a little teary eyed when it comes time to say goodbye at their cabin. Prepare for a quick goodbye and wear a big pair of sunglasses to hide the tears. Your kids are either excited or anxious, and the sight of you crying can be enough to push them in another direction. After the big hug and quick goodbye and you’re walking back to your car, let it all out. Cry away! But, know that it does get easier every year.

5. Write a letter.

There’s nothing more special at camp than receiving mail. You can drop off letters during check-in or you can send emails through the camper email system. Either way, try to send at least one letter while they’re gone. I write their letters in advance and drop them off during check-in. Let’s face it, that week will fly by and if I don’t do it in advance, I know I’ll forget to do it. There is a science to the letter. You don’t want to bore them. You also don’t want to gush over how much you miss them and end up making them homesick. And you definitely don’t want to make it seem like you’re having too much fun without them. I usually include a riddle or joke in each letter and they love to share them with their friends in the cabin.

6. Make sure you have everything ready for check-in.

Check-in on Sunday can feel rushed and busy. Make sure you have your paperwork filled out, medications labeled and ready to go, and everything is packed, and double checked. Be prepared for the lice check. Meaning…don’t bother with elaborate hair styles or braids until AFTER the lice check. Your hard work will be undone. Have a hair brush and elastics ready to do their hair after.

7. Plan to do something for yourself while they’re gone.

Let’s face it, a week away is also a bit of a vacation for you. Yes, you’ll miss them and most likely stalk the camp’s social media page a few times each day in hopes of catching a glimpse of them. Just don’t forget that you only have seven precious days of solitary parental bliss before they’re back home and you’re back to routine. So, make plans to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read for a few years now. Be spontaneous and go out one night, spur of the moment, without having to worry about arranging a babysitter. The idea is to do something you wouldn’t normally do. After all, you spent all that money to send them to camp. You deserve a treat too!
I’m always amazed at how much older and wiser they appear when I pick them up at the end of the week. They’re exuding confidence. Being prepared sets everybody up for a fabulous week away. Not only is it more enjoyable for your kids, but it also gives you some peace of mind.

Nicole Sivyer is a wife and a mom. When she’s not writing and working as a communications specialist she’s running her mom-Uber and enjoying a good cup of coffee.