I hate to keep bringing up Dos Equis, buuuuut packing for summer camp. That’ll do it.
It’s not as bad as you think. My pain, your gain. Here’s the nine best tips I have. Cheers.
1: Color Code
For reals. Color code it all. Since I pack four kids for camp (I know!) the Sharpie is your friend. Or, in my case the green, blue, pink and purple ones are my BFFs. The camp staff is so kind to send us a suggested packing list. As we “check things off the list,” I use my color coded Sharpie so we don’t miss anything. In addition, most of the kids’ packing supplies are also in their family color. Thank you Container Store and Amazon. It just makes life simpler.
2: Ziplock It
Yes, I put complete outfits in plastic bags (shirt, shorts, socks and undies), but then I also label them with…a color coded Sharpie marker. Because really, y’all, when you have that many bags strewn all across your floors and a curious toddler who likes to “organize” it’s a lifesaver.
3: Laminate It
Yep, we laminate our packing list because BOYS. It’s also handy for your camper when packing the trunk at the end of the week. They can at least attempt to put all those things back in the trunk. I know. You can lead a horse to water and all that jazz.
4: Washi Tape
We use this on things we’ll be using again when they get home, i.e., extension cords for their fans. I straight up label clothes, books and bathroom accessories, but the tape comes in handy for things that look like everyone else’s. And, it’s pretty. At least my girls appreciate that effort.
5: Waterproof the Rest
6: Business Cards and Letters
Because most camps don’t allow electronic devices, you have to go old school if you want to keep track of your new-found buddies at the end of camp. For my younger campers, we include our address and family email (that’s what we use until 6th grade). The older ones include email and social media handles. The only important note you’ll need to share with your camper is these are only useful if you pass them out. Ahem, John Paul. Also, I send two letters with my kids to write home. Yes, camps offer email services but we’ve opted out of them for three reasons: 1) cost (most services aren’t free), 2) I don’t want my kids to have easy access to me, I want them having fun with their friends not emailing me all the time and 3) a handwritten note is like a snapshot in time. #oldfashionedandproudofit
7: Frugality is Your Friend
Before buying new stuff, shop your closet, visit Goodwill, find the sales or borrow a friend’s item for any of those “special event” nights. For consumables, consider buying small containers and then filling them up with shampoo, soap, conditioner and lotion from home. Those little travel bottles you buy at the store can add up! Summer camp isn’t cheap, but we try very hard to be smart about what we take and what can be reused from year to year. Leave the good stuff at home because I promise it won’t come back that way.
8: Easy Wash
Don’t ask me how I found out, but trust me when I tell you that plastic foot lockers – the kind that can be power washed or wiped with Clorox wipes – are the way to go. Trust me on this one.
After the kids arrive home, I wash, air out and sanitize everything. Then? About half of it goes straight back in the footlocker: pillow, towels, shower caddy, t-shirts, sheets, fan, etc. You will save yourself some serious time, effort and space by packing the “summer camp only” stuff right back in the trunk it will be going in next year. Need the full 411? I suggest this post.