This following is a guest post by local Contributor, Kathy of House of Hills. Kathy is helping us get ready for summer by sharing her 5 Tips when sending your child off to camp – whether it’s an overnight camp or a day camp, these are all great tips!!
5 Tips for Sending Your Kid Off to Camp
Summer is just days away, and with it comes the annual scramble of keeping the kids busy while offering them new experiences. At the House of Hills, school’s out means overnight camp is right around the corner. This will be Maggie’s third year going to Woodlands Camp, and she can’t wait. As camp draws near, there are a few things we do to make sure we have a great experience.
And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. We label socks, underwear, swimsuits, clothes, toothbrush, hair brush. Did I mention EVERYTHING! There are several ways to label things. There is the old fashioned Sharpie® marker, which works wonderfully for underwear and socks and those things that it doesn’t matter how it looks. However, for things like her toiletries, Bible, journal and even pen, we look to Kiddo Tags to help us out. They have so many fun choices. And, it’s a local business so I like that.
The first year of camp I used iron-on labels (from Kiddo Tags) on ALL of her clothes. For some reason, I thought moms were supposed to do that. Some of her older sleep shirts still have those labels in them. I know her towels and sheets do. They work wonderfully. So, if that’s your thing. Go for it! Just know this. It is not a quick process.
However you label, just make sure you label. Because that last day of camp when they’re packing up their duffle bags with wet and sweaty stuff, you’re gonna want your camper to know what’s hers and what’s not.
Bag Your Outfits
Now, this may seem a little OCD to some of you. However, my daughter (who is ten) says she really appreciates her outfits being bagged. I’ve been bagging her outfits for trips (whether I’m with her or not) since she was a toddler. When we’re on family vacation, it makes it easy for her to grab her own outfit without needing help to dig through a suitcase. When she’s on her own at camp or Grandma’s, bagging her outfits makes it easy for her to be totally independent and not have to pause during the fun to sort through clothes.
I did an entire post on packing this way over at House of Hills. Please know that at this stage of our lives I tell her how many outfits she needs to pack. She lays that many out on her bed complete with under garments and socks. I do an inspection, and then she bags them. She often goes so far as to label the bags by the day of the week. We also reuse baggies so a few of the baggies in her room have been on more trips to Disney than some of my friends.
Oh, and you’re going to need more than one outfit a day if it’s a fun camp. They get NASTY. I’ve been asked to send two outfits a day this year. However, I have a girl. If you have a boy, you may get away with two outfits for the week.
Read The Packing List
Any camp you go to, whether it be a day camp or an overnight camp, is going to give you a packing list. It is important to adhere to the list. Pay special attention to what you ARE NOT supposed to bring. In this day and age where a child doesn’t seem to know what to do without their electronic device, you need to double check that said electronic device is allowed. At Woodlands Camp, all that stuff stays home. ALL of it!! Insert picture of HAPPY MOM here. Ironically, refillable water bottle is not listed on the packing list for Maggie’s camp. And, last year I forgot to pack one. Guess who was buying a water bottle at the camp store that year. Yep, this mom. I did remember to label it though. Check the list. Twice. And make sure refillable water bottle is on it.
Medications In Original Packaging
You know how you and I just throw our daily meds into a baggie or maybe even one of those pill organizers? Ya, you can’t do that for camp. The majority of camps your child might attend have a nurse on site. Make sure you check their website to be sure. The nurse has the usual stuff like pain reliever and Benadryl® and basic first aid supplies.
However, if your child takes daily medication (like mine does) or needs an inhaler available just in case (like mine does), you need to bring that with you. In addition, you need to make sure that all medication in its original packaging so that the prescription and/or package directions are there. For us, that means I buy a small package of Claritin® to send and get fresh refills on all her prescriptions right before she goes to camp. I then put everything in a baggie with her name on it to turn in during the check-in process.
Do you remember getting mail when you were a kid? I used to love to run out to the mailbox to see if there was something with MY name on it. And, at camp, mail call was the favorite time of the day. Don’t forget to make sure you child receives mail! (You can even get grandparents and aunts and uncles in on it.) Now, if your child is only gone for four days like mine is, this takes a little planning. You actually have to put cards in the mail BEFORE she leaves. You’re not even missing her yet, but you have to say you are. That’s important—the “I’m missing you” part.
Check with your child’s camp to see how they handle mail. Some camps will even deliver a daily email for a small fee. Then, you can actually give a daily report of what’s happening at home. At Woodlands Camp, we are encouraged to bring a bag of mail with us and they distribute it on the day we’ve indicated. Saves their mailman a lot of work and the parents a lot of postage. I shop for cute cards all year long and then her Dad and I spend an evening writing little notes so that it’s all done when we drop her off. We also include one VERY IMPORTANT care package. Get that. Care packages are very important. Nothing says “I love you” more than a box with your name on it. We always include something cheap and funny, a couple bags of potato chips, and a ring pop. Nothing extravagant, but it says we know her and love her.
Oh, and make sure you pack a couple note cards with stamps so they can send you mail. When you go to the mailbox and see that envelope with your name on it, your heart will melt. Seriously.
So, are you sending your baby off to camp for the first time? Don’t worry he’s going to be fine? Are you an experienced camp parent and have more tips to share? Please leave them below.
Connect with Kathy
Kathy Hill blogs at HouseofHills.org semi-regularly where she shares her family’s antics, yummy recipes and Disney tips. She’s the mama to a theater kid so she spends a great deal of time driving to theaters, waiting in theaters, and watching theater. And, she kinda loves it. Kathy, her husband, David, and daughter, Maggie, moved to Cumming in 2010 and love living in such an awesome community.