Posts Tagged ‘packing for summer camp’

An Ode to Bunk Junk: Less is More.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Have you ever walked into your child’s room or playroom and thought, “What happened, did a tornado come through here?” So cluttered, so messy that you can’t even think straight?  We try our hardest at Camp Starlight to not let the “Bunk Junk tornado” run through our bunks.

A small amount of Bunk Junk is great! Games to play during rest hour in the bunk, stationary to write home with, books to read, Rainbow looms or friendship bracelet kits.  Each camper has a designated spot for all of these items, and it’s under their bed. At Starlight, all bunk junk must be able to fit into a specific sized “Underbed Box” to keep bunks clean and organized. When campers bring too much Bunk Junk, it becomes an unorganized mess. Inevitably games, toys, and letters can get lost, broken, or accidentally thrown away during a massive clean out of the dark abyss of their underbed.

When you send your campers trunks up, make sure all of their bunk junk can fit, neatly, into the “Underbed Box.” This includes sticker books, rainbow loom/string boxes, stationary sets, and dress up clothes! And don’t forget to think twice about if your child will actually use the items you are sending. In the realm of packing Bunk Junk, use the golden rule: Less is Definitely More.

5 Things for Camp Parents to begin Thinking about in the Spring

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

March is here, which means spring is just around the corner. More importantly, summer is only a few months away, which means it’s time to begin checking off that annual camp preparation list. No doubt, the idea that it’s time to begin thinking about summer is a welcome respite for many following a winter that regularly included terms such as “polar vortex.” So whether you’re preparing your children for their first summer at camp, or are still thawing out after a frigid winter, here are five things to think about as the snow begins to melt, temperatures begin to rise and vegetation blooms:

1.)    Order camp clothes. Some camps feature catalogues and websites that cater to supply lists and sell logo merchandise. Although most camps do not require parents to order supplies and clothing from these catalogues, a few items are never a bad idea, particularly for children who intend to be part of sports teams. Also, camps sometimes require children to wear a specific colored logo shirt on certain occasions, such as out of camp trips. These clothing catalogs are the best resources for these items.

2.)    Start talking about camp. For returning campers, chances are that they’ve never completely stopped talking about it. It’s good, however, to begin preparing first time campers a few months ahead of camp so that they are not completely overwhelmed when departure time for camp actually arrives. For all campers – returning or not – it’s good to set some goals for the summer. Some parents find that their children are a step ahead of them when it comes to goal setting, while other campers need a bit of assistance with organizing their thoughts and prioritizing. Either way, it’s good to begin a dialogue now so that you and your children have time to think about expectations for the summer.

3.)    Begin stockpiling. Some parents actually pull out camp duffels and begin packing in the early spring while others just clear off a shelf in a closet and begin picking up basic supplies such as sunscreen, shampoo, and socks whenever they are out shopping. Gradually building a stockpile prevents that last minute scramble that inevitably ends in a phone call either from or to the camp about forgotten items.

4.)    Schedule pre-camp checkups. This is particularly crucial if your child’s pediatrician tends to be one that is perpetually booked and scheduling appointments a month or two into the future. Camps are safety focused, and it’s is very important that they understand each and every camper’s medical needs and limitations. For liability reasons, they also need medical and insurance information prior to being able to permit campers to participate in certain activities, such as out of camp trips. Also, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor about any medications that will be necessary for the summer.

5.)    Complete paperwork. Camps mail or make necessary forms available online to parents around this time of year. The forms may include information about trips, interests, goals, children’s personalities, etc. Although the purpose of the paperwork may not always be clear, camps put a lot of thought and consideration into the information they request parents to provide, and that information is crucial to facilitating a successful summer for campers. Since this task can seem daunting in the midst of those last minute preparations just before camp, it’s a good idea to set aside a block of time early in the spring to complete forms.

Time to Start Thinking about Packing…

Monday, May 7th, 2012

May means a lot of things to a lot of people.  To some it’s Memorial Day and the official beginning of summer.  For others, it marks the end of another school year.  For summer camp parents, it means it’s time to start thinking about packing.  For first time parents, the task can seem absolutely overwhelming.   How much sunscreen and shampoo do I pack?  Do they really need shinguards?  How many t-shirts are enough?  For seasoned camp parents, packing is a science based on experience.  The art is in packing just enough but not too much or too little…and knowing which items the children have sneaked into their bags to take out and which ones to let go.  Packing properly takes time…and patience.

Camps provide rather comprehensive packing lists.  These should not be disregarded.  They’re compiled by professionals with years of camping experience who have excellent knowledge of what children’s bags need to contain in order for them to arrive prepared for a successful summer at camp.  Also keep in mind when packing that living space is somewhat limited at camp.  Your child will not have his or her own room at summer camp.  He or she will live together with several other campers as well as a couple of counselors. This means that there is not a whole lot of room for “extras” and labeling clothes is important as mix-ups are otherwise bound to happen.  If laundry is your primary concern, rest assured that camp laundry is done at least once per week.  Your child’s counselors and other camp staff will see to it that your child has clean clothes.

Summer camp values also often downplay appearance.  The emphasis of summer camp is on fun, friendship, and safety.  Before the end of the summer, your child will likely get wet, slimed, painted, generally messy, and a host of other cool things that tend to make children laugh and adults cringe.  So keep the really good stuff at home and send clothes that neither you nor they will miss too much if they have to be “retired” at the end of the summer.

It’s important for both new and seasoned camp parents to pay as much attention to the items your child’s camp asks not to bring as those items it asks to bring.  There is a reason your camp requests that certain items not be brought onto campus, whether it’s to help facilitate a specific environment, protect those with allergies, or to avoid other issues not conducive to the spirit of summer camp.  Packing “do not bring” items risks them being lost or confiscated until the end of the summer.  This ultimately causes undo stress on your children.  Alleviating stress that results from the idea of having to leave a beloved item such as a cell phone or notepad at home is typically accomplished by reiterating to children about what they will have at camp as opposed to what they won’t.

By following your camp’s advice and being proactive rather than reactive, packing for camp can be a fun countdown to camp rather than a reactive chore.

Words of advice for a first time camper – what to bring

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Many Starlight campers come back year after year so who better to ask for some words of advice on what to bring with you than these true experts?  

There’s an official packing list of things you absolutely must bring with you from clothes, bedding, footwear etc.  Be prepared for some of your clothes and sneakers to get muddy when you’re doing things like mountain biking.  You’ll have a blast but the great outdoors doesn’t know that your sneakers are your absolute favorites so if you love them, leave them at home.  

There are also loads of things that aren’t on the packing list which you may want to bring along.  Photos and special posters from home can be taped on the wall by your bed and don’t forget things like your teddy bear or favorite pillow.   A battery operated fan also comes in really handy on hot days and nights.   Things to include in your “bunk junk” are face paints, fake moustaches, costumes and dress up items (especially hats and wigs), bandanas, stickers and trading cards and glow sticks.  Duct tape is a “must have” item as you can use it to stick your photos to the wall in the bunk, use it to help create costumes, and you can also make bracelets out of it. 

Each day after dinner we have free play and there are heaps of activities going on like gaga, basketball, tennis and soccer, but there’s also time to do your own thing in your divisional circle if that’s what you prefer.  Some people like to write letters so bring heaps of paper and envelopes with stamps already on them.  Other people like to play with Frisbees, bouncy balls and bubbles – small things that are easy to pack and store but you can have heaps of fun with. 

You are going to be super busy at camp doing all your activities but these are just a few small things that you will DEFINITELY find come in useful at camp.

Sending a huge thank-you to all the participants of the 2nd July blogging classes for these awesome ideas.

10 Things to Do before Your Children Leave for Summer Camp

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

10 Things to do before Your Children Leave for

10. Complete all of the camp paperwork.  This provides the camp with valuable details about your child that they can pass onto their health center and counselors.  Knowing your children’s interests before they arrive helps the camp place them into cabins or bunks in which they’ll thrive, provide them with the best program options, and be able to supply them with any medication they may require.

9. Buy stationary, pre-address and stamp envelopes for letters home.  Many camps have specific time set aside in their daily schedules for writing home.  Pre-addressed envelopes help ease the process of sending the letters campers have so lovingly written.  This is particularly the case for younger campers.  Also, familiarize yourself with your children’s camp policy regarding camp packages to avoid disappointment that may result from sending items that are undeliverable to your children.

8. Review the camp’s packing list and make sure you have everything.  Don’t overlook things like extra socks and underwear as well as rain gear and warm clothing.

7. Review your camp’s handbook with your children.  Camp handbooks contain valuable information regarding the expectations of campers.  Emphasize that camps put such guidelines in place for the safety and well being of their campers so that they can insure everyone has the most fun possible.

6. Make your Visiting Day plans and book lodging.  Yes, it’s true that your children haven’t even left for camp yet.  But many hotels within the immediate vicinity of a camp often book months in advance.  If you’re unsure of the lodging options near your children’s camp, contact the camp office.

5. Make sure your children’s camper accounts are in order.  Some camps maintain “spending accounts” for campers.  These accounts provide additional funds for campers to take along on out of camp trips to purchase souvenirs or treats.  If you’re unclear at all, call the camp office. Keep in mind that these are often separate accounts from those that cover in-camp expenses such as canteen and laundry services.

4. Ensure you have all adequate sports and musical equipment in order:  the wheels on the roller blades are oiled, the shin pads are the proper fit, and the guitar strings have been tightened.  Just as if they are going off to rehearsal, your children’s sports equipment will receive as much of a workout at camp as it will at home.  Sending your campers with properly maintained and fitting equipment can have a tremendous affect on the success of their summer.

3. Pack.  It sounds so simple.  Yet, for camp, it’s quite the production.  Most camps strongly advise against packing any clothing that can’t withstand commercial laundry services.  It’s also wise to remember that camps often downplay the importance of physical appearance, which means leaving the “dry clean only” and “one of kind” items at home is typically a good idea.  Once you have your children’s bags packed, don’t forget to arrange for them to be delivered to camp by the designated date.

2. Review the bus pickup location and procedures.  It’s particularly important to understand what your children can take on the plane or bus and what they can’t.  Carefully review whether lunch will be provided for your children either on the trip or when they get to camp, or if you should provide packed lunches for them.  Understand the carry-on limitations, particularly in regard to sports equipment.  Finally, be on time to the departure point.  Of course, people inevitably get stuck in traffic or lost (as is particularly the case for new pickup locations), but try to get a sense of where you’re going ahead of time and leave a bit early if necessary.

1. Wish your children an unbelievable,  happy summer.  They’re going to have one!  But knowing you’re supporting them 100% just makes it that much better— particularly for first time campers.  Remind them of all the fun they’re going to have.  Let them know that you can’t wait to hear about it in their letters, and that you’ll be monitoring the camp’s website daily for blogs and photographs in addition to sending them letters and email.

Kids, Clothes, and Chaos

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We came across this blog and got a really good chuckle out of it.  Since we’ve rounded that corner into April and the “waiting to pack” countdown has officially begun, we can’t resist sharing it with you.  We would like to thank Lisa, the original author, for her permission to reprint it…

I am fortunate enough to be able to send my two older children to sleepaway camp.  It is a fantastic learning, growing and maturing experience – for me and them!  My kids learn that the world still turns if they wear clothes that don’t match or the same shirt 4 days in a row, or what it’s like to meet new people, watch themselves become independent beings and experience things they never could at home (we don’t have a lake in our backyard or a kiln in the kitchen).

That said, there’s a lot of waiting involved with camp.  It all starts with the waiting-to-pack time period.  It’s incredible how much stuff needs to be stuffed inside of the trunks that are taken to camp.  Ok, first off, let’s not date ourselves to when they were actual black with gold rivet trunks – they’re really just duffle bags.  Granted, huge, enormous, can hold at least 4 grown men duffles, but duffle bags nevertheless.  And these duffles sit in my bedroom for weeks until they are actually picked up and taken away (given that we don’t have an extra bedroom and my husband and I’s room has the most space).  So I wait as long as possible to unearth them from where they are stashed all winter to reduce the number of nights I can possibly slip, roll and kill myself on an errant battery or sunscreen stick that has escaped the double layered ziploc bag in which it was stored.  Aside from my general safety, I have to wait to pack because nothing pisses me off more than putting items inside the bags and crossing them off my checklist, only to be asked the next morning by one of my chidlren if they can wear that shirt, jersey, soccer cleat, you name it, one last time.  So, although I have a few friends that are happy to feel organized starting this process in February for a June pick-up, I’ll stick with the wait-until-the-last-minute crunch time way that seems to work best for us.

But the waiting doesn’t end with the pick-up of the bags.  No siree.  Then there’s the parking lot send-off where the parents stand in the middle of an open parking lot in midday.  Blinking, shielding their eyes in the glaring heat (even behind the giant black Jackie-O glasses bought for the occasion) at a tinted window to try to catch a last glimpse of their child while trying to choke back emotion to “put on a good front”.  Inevitably, there’s a late-comer who was stuck in traffic so us parents are left standing like beauty pageant idiots waving and waiting, waving and waiting.

Once the bus pulls away then the wait for the first online picture begins.  Can you say refresh button?  You never know when new pics will be posted… And of course, the first letter (hopefully with no circled tear droplets or talk of homesickness and hitching a ride home) and the first phone call.  Visiting Day can never arrive quickly enough and as soon as you pull away from camp, the countdown to their homecoming begins.  And then there’s the the daily wait for the mailman in the hopes he brings some small tidbit of a literary connection.

Key thing to note (and I learned this the hard way the first summer my kids were away), is that my summer life is what happens in between all this waiting.  So although I miss them terribly each summer and usually have several countdowns going at once, I also recognize that the countdown to the hectic long days of the school year with homework, carpooling, sports practices and coordination of schedules is also going on during these precious and fleeting summer weeks.

So I’m trying to appreciate the waiting.  And dare I say, enjoy it.  Because before you know it, we’ll all have to endure the longest wait of all… when summer ends and we wait until next summer to do it all over again.