Here are 10 summer camp essentials your kids can’t live without at summer camp.
The best time of year is almost here….summer camp season. I’m not sure who gets more excited about camp around our home, myself or my girls. There’s no doubt I relish the peace and quiet for two weeks while they’re gone but I so enjoy the changes I see in them every year after summer camp too. They are always more independent, a little more mature, and a little quicker to help with chores around the house. They are also incredibly happy. Summer camp is essential around this house now and since this is our sixth summer at sleep away camp I’ve got the packing down to a fine art.
Summer Camp Essentials
There is only one company to use for this and it’s hands down Mabel’s Labels. These labels are indestructible and have often outlasted the product I labelled. They also have an amazing camp combo that’s ideal for all the different things you send with the kids each year.
Without a doubt, this is the one thing I wish we had invested in right away. Camp trunks are really only practical for camp but man do they help save sanity. We can get two weeks worth of clothes in our kids, plus a lot of the extras required. The kids love it because they don’t have items stored in multiple places and it’s the perfect storage unit when camp is over for the year. Helpful tip: We staple their camp list in the inside of the lid when they go so they can check off that they have everything when packing up. They never do but a mom can hope that one year, it might happen, right?
With skin cancer on the rise in Canada and the US, this is a bit of no-brainer. Make sure to purchase sport proof sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 50. Review with your kids how to apply dilengently. Also, try to avoid spray sunscreens. Most camps don’t like aerosols since careless sprayers can often catch an unwitting camper in the eyes….lotions are best.
Look, I’m all for environmentally friendly, people friendly bug repellants but the reality is that most of them don’t work in the bug rich environments that camps are in. The bottom line here is that the kids need DEET. Our camp recommends no more than 10% concentration for children under 12, and no more than 30% concentration for children over 12. Even with all the bug repellant in the world there will still be bites, so reinforce for kids to not scratch until they break the skin and send them with bug relief, I’m a big fan of After Bite Gel. Final tip, check if your child’s camp supplies mosquito nets for over bunks, if not you can get them from Ikea for $19.99.
At my children’s camp, we can email the kids everyday if we like and they dutifully deliver the printed messages to the girls cabins. The girls, however, have to kick it old school and put pen to paper if they want to send messages to their parents. Not going to lie, my youngest has not written me yet, but I still pack the required items in case the urge should ever strike. My oldest writes me every other day and I laugh out loud at the dramatic messages she sends me about cabin mates and getting the lead in the camp play and how her sister is driving her crazy. I’ve packed them all away for her so she can laugh out loud reading them some day.
It can be brutally hot at camp and freezing cold…sometimes in the same day. Make sure you find a sleeping bag that will keep them warm on cooler nights but not sweating buckets when it’s warm. Talk to the experts at Mountain Equipment Co-op for the perfect bag. This is also a perfect time to switch out pillows in the house. I replace the pillows on their bed when they go to camp and then get rid of the old ones when they come home from camp.
I know what you’re thinking, they shower? Last year, my youngest daughter told me she showered twice while away for 15 days. I could have lived without knowing that. All you can do as a mom, is hope they use soap once or twice and not worry about it. They will need something to carry their shower stuff in though. Look for caddies with handles that have holes in the bottom for moisture to run out.
All I can say here is find one that floats. Trust me. Also don’t forget to pack spare batteries and show them how to change them.
Fans can vastly improve quality of sleep for kids, so while this is a bit of luxury I highly recommend them. Double check with your camp if they have electrical outlets in cabins. My daughters’ camp is totally rustic, so there’s nowhere to plug in, so we’ve sourced out small fans that use batteries.
I list this as a summer camp essential for parents because it helps clear out your closets and basement. Camps love props for theme days and plays, so send those old costumes and clothing with your kids and make sure they leave them there.
Of course, while their away you’ll want to send a care package. Listen carefully to your camp rules about what can’t be sent or you risk breaking hearts when goods are confiscated. I can’t speak for the boys but I’ve compiled the Ultimate Camp Care Package for Girls, so take a peek.
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