Packing for camp

The aisles at the big, red, bullseye store might be decorated for back-to-school, but the shopping carts revealed that there was a lot of summer camp purchasing happening. Two women in the soap/body wash aisle discussed the quantity of body wash their children would need at camp. “If they shower after every swim, they’ll need two bottles of body wash.” “ According to, they’re gonna need lotion so their skin isn’t dry from all that bathing.” I did the smile nod as I grabbed the smallest bottle of hair and body wash.

A woman in the boys’ department carefully picked out an assortment of shorts and shirts that would have had matching Garanimal tags, if that still existed. I stepped across the aisle and tossed a pair of small men’s swim trunks in my basket.

On my way to the checkout, I grabbed a box of ziploc bags as a grandmother gently put half a dozen refillable water bottles on the new pillow, blanket and matching towels in her cart.

Both of the shoppers in front of me at the check-out had large rolling suitcases balanced delicately on the top of their piles of summer camp supplies. The woman directly in front of me added almost $350 at the big, red, bullseye store to the cost of sending her child to summer camp for a week.

After years of summer camp, I have learned a few things.
1. Instead of luggage, use storage buckets with lids and stow them under camp cots.
2. Pack clothing and other fabric items in ziploc bags. At the end of camp, unused clothing will be clean, dry and still inside the bag.
3. Most children will wear swimsuits and t-shirts all day, every day. Some children will wear the SAME suit and shirt the entire week.
4. Unless the camp counselors are extraordinary, your children will consider swimming a suitable substitute for bathing, even if they were swimming in a lake.
5. Children will also fail to properly use sunscreen and bug spray. Combined with poor hygiene while at camp, you should go ahead and schedule an appointment with the pediatrician the day after camp is over for infected bug bite treatment.
6. Don’t send anything to camp that you aren’t willing to never see again. I once had a child return without a single item because a freak storm blew everything into the abyss.
7. Every moment that you spend worrying and fretting about your child’s safety, your child is having a wonderful time being dirty, stinky, loud and silly. You’ll worry anyway.

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