It’s summer time, and as your kids get older the question about sleepaway camps seems to always pop up. This year, after a lot of research on my part regarding various sleepaway camps, their safety records, etc., my kids lucked out and are both getting to go to sleepaway camp for the first time. (I lucked out because they’re gone exactly the same week. Yay me!)
Once you have picked an appropriate sleepaway camp for your child, there are some tips to help you prepare for the big day when you drop them off for the first time. Here are a few.
Learn more: Prep for Summer Vacation and/or Camp
Sleepaway Camp Tip #1: Discuss Roommates
Will your roommates be friends from home? Having a roommate from home can alleviate home sickness, and this topic was a big discussion for my family. You see although my oldest has wanted to go to camp for the past few years, he hasn’t gone to camp yet. He and his friends couldn’t agree upon a camp to try, and he didn’t want to go without a friend from home. This year, however, they all agreed, he has a roommate from home, and he’s going to camp.
**Once you decide about roommates, it is the perfect time to have a discussion about what makes a good roommate, respecting each other’s property, etc.
Sleepaway Camp Tip #2: Explore the Camp Ahead of Time
Can you visit the camp ahead of time or is there a website to visit to make your first time camper more comfortable? The camps my children are going to are hours away, so it wasn’t practical to visit them in person. Instead we perused the websites for each of the camps. This turned out to be a really good idea as we discovered that once my son had signed up for his camp, he actually had audition music that he has to prepare before he arrives. Also for my younger one, we were able to go over her daily schedule and get over any fears that she might have about her first trip away without her parents.
Learn more: How To Use Summer Vacation To Teach Kids About Money
Sleepaway Camp Tip #3: Prepare for Homesickness
How will you deal with the homesick child? No matter how prepared you are many parents have the homesick child problem. There are some things you can do ahead of time to try to prevent a huge problem due to homesickness.
- Talk about being homesick with your child before camp. Let them know how common it is, and that it is OK to be homesick.
- Think about having a roommate from home.
- Think about packing something from home to help such as a special picture, blanket, book, etc.
- Work out a contact time whether it be by phone, texting, or mail. If the camp have some tough rules about phones, etc. set up a “I’m thinking about you” time each day in which your child knows that you are thinking about them, and they can think about you.
- If allowed by the camp, send a letter ahead of time to your child. Or leave them surprise notes in their suitcase or ziploc bags.
Learn more: Guide To Saving On Summer Travel
Sleepaway Camp Tip #4: Prepare to Communicate with Your Child While They’re Away
Can you contact your child at camp? Every camp has different rules about contacting your children. Some camps recommend sending mail; other camps request that you don’t. Some camps have community phones with community phone hours; others do not. Discuss the rules about communicating with your child at home before your first time camper goes off to camp.
Sleepaway Camp Tip #5: Think About Your Packing List at Least One Month Before Camp
Do you need to create a shopping for camp list? Several weeks before camp starts I’m planning on making a packing list (see the sample of my list below). Be sure to check the camp materials for the rules regarding personal items being brought to camp. Every camp is different, and many camps have a “not allowed”list. After you make your list, divide the list into what you have and what you need. Then let the bargain shopping begin.
Will you need new or special clothing for camp? I am going to avoid sending new clothing if at all possible. After all no matter how careful a child is, things get lost.
Will you label all clothing and other items? Yes. Yes you will. Why? Because I told you too, and it is so easy for your kids to lose their items at camp. I mean how many times last year did a lunch box or winter coat get left at school? That many? See? That is what I’m talking about. Mabel’s Labels offers a camp package that makes it easy to label everything. (and a 10% off discount if you buy 2 or more)
How will you pack your kids clothes? I have heard from several sources that packing your clothing items in ziploc bags is the way to go. Dirty clothes then can be easily exchanged for clean ones. Sure there will be the kid that will come home with a suitcase perfectly packed with ziploc bags that have never be touched. You can just hope that it is not your kid.
As far as your toiletries are concerned be sure to pack them in an easy to carry container just in case they have to haul them to and from the showers. Don’t forget to pack your shower flip-flops!
What items are must have items for camp? Each camp will have specific items that are required that are different from other camps. For example my son is going to band camp. He has to back his trumpet, etc. My daughter is going to a swim team camp. She’s going to need more swim suits and towels that the average camper. Be sure to read the materials carefully regarding what each camp suggests your camper to bring. Every camp is different.
Once you know the special items you need to bring, here is a place to help you create the rest of your packing list.
Learn more: How To talk To Kids About Saying ‘No’ To Alcohol
Sleepaway Camp Tip #6: A Sample Packing List
You can download the list (Sleepaway Camp Packing List), or simply copy and paste from below.
1. Labels for Everything
2. Sleeping bag and pillow (Or sheets, blankets, and pillow)
- Soap dish
- Toothbrush Holder
- Hair Products
- 1 T-shirt per day plus 2 extras.
- 1 pair of socks per day plus 2 extras
- 1 pair of shorts per day plus 2 extras
- 1 pair of underwear per day plus 2 extras
- 2-5 swimsuits/coverups
- 2-3 swim towels
- 2-3 shower towels
- 2-3 sets of pajamas
- Flip-flops for the shower/pool
- 1 pair of long pants for cool nights
- 1 light weight jacket or sweatshirt for cool nights
6. Water Bottle
9. Insect Repellent
10. First Aid Kit with lip balm and aloe for sunburns.
11. Flashlight with extra batteries
12. Family Photo to Prevent Homesickness
13. Cell Phone and Charger
14. Books and/or magazines.
15. Stationary or post cards, pen, and stamps
16. Mp3 players
17. Camera (Disposable is nice to prevent expensive losses)
18. Spending money for snacks, etc.
19. Garbage bags for wet clothes
20. Laundry Bag
Learn more: Traveling with Littles: Road Trips with Kids
Are you ready for your child’s first sleepaway camp? At what age do you think you’ll let them go for the first time?
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