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How you can get organized for summer camp
BY LAURA KINSELLA
Summer camp is an incredible opportunity
for your child to learn, socialize and grow! And
while you may be feeling a lot of confl icting
emotions (overwhelm, excitement and tears,
to name a few), having an organized plan will
make you feel more in control and set your
camper up for a seamless summer of fun.
Your camp will provide a packet of useful
information well before summer with good
reason! Shopping and gathering camp specifi c
items takes time. Give yourself a few weeks so
there is time to run to the store, order online,
and exchange (did their feet really grow a whole
shoe size over winter?!)
Choose an area in your home where you
can start to assemble everything. Th ere will
be some things you need to purchase new, and
others you are simply collecting from your
home. Having a spot for everything to land and
review before you pack avoids neglecting items
or packing the same thing twice.
Just like the start of the school year, there
will be required medical forms that need to
be submitted. Make sure your child is up to
date with checkups and that you have updated
records from their pediatrician.
If your child is gone for the full summer, it
may also be important to see the dentist, get a
haircut and refi ll any necessary prescriptions.
Add what matters to the list
Consider what items are important that may
not be on the provided camp list. Perhaps your
child wears contacts, takes fi ber gummies to stay
regular or has a favorite stuff ed animal that they
simply cannot be without. Including their specifi
c essentials will make your child feel “at home,”
especially if this is their fi rst camp experience!
But more importantly, subtract
Camp lists are guidelines, not strict regulations.
If you know your child will never remember
to use a conditioner or a washcloth,
save your money and invest in a three-in-one
shampoo, conditioner and body wash instead.
Avoid sending anything that holds irreplaceable
value. Camp is particularly rough on clothing, so
hand-me-downs or secondhand items are ideal!
Label everything (yes, even their
toothbrush and underwear!)
As responsible as your child may be, items
will inevitably get mixed up in a bunk or during
a water activity when clothes are coming on
and off quickly. Labels are the only way your
child and counselors will maintain order and
ensure everyone has what they need!
Adhere fabric labels (or use a name stamp
customized with your child’s fi rst and last
name) to everything in your pile. If you’re in a
bind, a simple Sharpie from your junk drawer
will do the trick, too!
Group like items and pack!
Now that you’ve gathered and labeled your
custom camp list, it’s time to group like with
like and pack!
For day camps, pack a lightweight backpack
with the following: Daily water bottle, swim
gear and towel (or tailor to your camp’s specifi c
activities), ziplock for wet items, ziplock with
a set of dry clothing, hat/sunglasses, SPF and
bug spray. If you’re required to bring lunch and
snacks, choose an insulated bag to help keep
items cool. Don’t forget to label everything
from their sunglasses to their goggles.
For sleepaway, pack a rolling trunk with the
following: Packing cubes or ziplock bags (the 2-3
gallon kind) for each individual category (labeled,
of course). You want to keep it simple so your child
doesn’t need a treasure map to fi nd their socks.
General categories can include socks and
underwear, sleepwear, tees, bottoms, swim and
rain gear, toiletries, bedding, theme days and
bunk junk. Store larger bedding in a separate
duffl e or large, clear bag.
Pack a bedside organizer (to mimic a nightstand)
so your camper has a place for the little
odds and ends to land, especially when it’s time
for lights out!
Walk your child through their trunk so they
know what they have, and more importantly
where to fi nd it. For extra measure, tape their
custom camp list on the inside of their trunk.
Th is serves as a little “cheat sheet,” as well as a
reminder of what they’ll need to pack when it’s
time to come home.
If your overnighter is interested in sending
camp letters, it doesn’t hurt to pre-stamp and
pre-address the envelopes. Let’s put it this way:
if you want to increase the odds of actually receiving
a love note over the summer, it’s a must!
For day camp, streamline your
morning and evening routine
Hang the camp calendar near the family
command center so you remember things like
“wear your PJs” day, or “silly hat” day. Th e same
goes for if your child will be going on fi eld trips
where they may need a solid-colored shirt or
Keep a caddy by the front door of SPF, bug
spray, a brush, hair ties, etc. to make mornings
a little more manageable and effi cient. When
your child arrives home, encourage them to
clear out their backpack to ensure food containers
don’t spoil and those wet items have time to
dry without getting smelly.
Teach problem solving
As much as we want to think summer camp
will be all peaches and cream, there will be
times our children will get hurt, fi nd themselves
Photo via Getty Images
in a situation where they need something, or
are working through something upsetting.
Communicate with your child who they
can turn to (friends, counselors and staff ) no
matter the circumstance (whether they’ve wet
themselves, are in need of feminine hygiene
products or are just missing home).
If your child is attending sleep away, sending
a letter in advance of their arrival is another
way to combat homesickness and to remind
them you are always there for them, even from
Camp is a unique experience in which your
child is discovering the world through a different
lens (parent-free). It is more likely than
not that they’ll come home with paint under
their fi ngernails and a whole trunk of missing
socks. But they’ll also come home with gained
confi dence and independence, and for that, it’ll
all be worth it!
Laura Kinsella is a mom, wife and owner of
Urban OrgaNYze, a New York City based professional
home organizing company. Since 2015,
she has helped transform hundreds of homes to
be more effi cient, elegant and meaningful. She
has been featured as a professional organizer on
A&E’s “Hoarders” and more! She loves color-coded
closets, Th e Container Store, and everything
about being a mama, minus the glitter.