It’s that time of year again... when the trunks come out and the mad rush begins to get the kids ready for camp.
I’ve been packing my children for camp for 11 years, so I wanted to share a few easy packing tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years having sent three kids to five different camps at different points.
There is NO right or wrong way to pack! Whether you start 3 months, 3 weeks, or 3 days in advance…it will all get done! The most important thing is to get the items into your house, the actual packing won’t take long.
Label It or Lose It
It’s inevitable that some things will not make it home with your camper…however, labeled items have a far better rate of return. If you shop at a place like Denny’s or Lester’s they will offer a labeling service with sewn on labels for all items you buy there. But if your entire camp wardrobe is from different places, you’ll need a few other options to get it labeled.
Happy Stamper Happy Camper
The easiest way to label socks, underwear, and undershirts, hands down is a stamper…
What about black clothing you ask? There’s a white ink stamper! I use the original clothing stamp from the Name Dropper.
Stick To It
After many years of iron ones and sharpies on tags, I discovered tiny stickers that fit right on the tags called Tageez or Stick-eez from different companies.
My favorites are Oliverslabels there’s a discount code OliversFriends for 20% off.
Other companies that make similar are Mabel’s Labels and Label Daddy.
If you have teenage kids and the clothing starts to look the same as yours and you’re already ordering, order a set of mom or dad labels too ;) They come in handy and help whomever is putting away laundry to get it in the right place.
A good ole sharpie will work too! Black for light colors and a metallic one for dark. Also good for sports equipment, flip flops, and other items.
What To Put It In
Contain, contain and contain by category. Whether you do this with Ziplock Totes or garbage bags it is best to organize the items by category. It makes it easier to pack and it makes it easier for the camper to unpack on their own in camp. The Ziploc Totes come in Jumbo size XL size. Ziploc Totes are my personal favorite; and I like to label them as well.
Down To the Letter
Camp stationery is fun, but more and more of it has been coming home unused over the years with electronic bunk notes widespread. Less is more.
If you want any hope of getting a letter from a kid who is under 12, your best bet would be to create labels – simple, white labels with your home address, or that of grandparents, or friends in other camps or anyone else they may want to send a note to, make it easy! If there are summer birthdays your child will want to acknowledge and send a stamped addressed card they can fill out and easily mail. While there is something to be learned from writing out an address, most kids would rather be playing or spending time with friends than writing home…
No news is good news! Don’t panic if you don’t get letters or bunk notes - it just means your kids are too busy having fun! I have one kid who wrote every day, another who wrote just when they needed things… pre visiting day etc… and another who barely wrote at all! It's as useful to read into it as it is to read into the camp photos online (oy that’s a whole other story).
Check out @thewritegift_byjen for my fave stationary and what to put it in.
Know your kid…and their stress level.
Less is usually more when it comes to all the extras – there are some summers I sent dozens of Mad Libs all of which came home untouched…other summers they were used up in week one. For girls, I find the “shtick” is fun – they want to have all the cute colorful themed stuff. A deck of cards is great and sports gear too…but that’s really all that’s necessary. Everything needs a place to be stored and sometimes too much stuff is just overwhelming.
Containers on the other hand are great to have - @thewritegift_byjen has fun plastic themed containers for camp. They’re perfect for storing some of the smaller items. There can be one container for color war and one for hair accessories...etc.
Take a Seat
Everyone wants a comfy place to sit. Bungee chairs are great, they’re big, but they must be taken up on the camp bus. Otherwise the camping chairs or what I call the “fold up” chairs are great.
It's happening no matter what... find out the colors of your kids’ camp, buy both options, and send them up in your kids’ trunk. Siblings or bunkmates will be happy to have the gear for the team your kid is not on. This is a quick trip to Party City.
or an even quicker trip to Amazon Prime. A few things that I get are face paint, bandanas, capes, tutus, solid color tees and temporary tattoos.
Rain, rain go away
The ubiquitous Charles River rain jacket – Denny's.
Rain boots are great, especially for girls, but I find boys just wear an old pair of sneakers – football in the mud is a fun camp activity so send up a pair that you don’t care about for them to use for that purpose and then LEAVE at camp.
On the topic of what to leave at camp a couple of other things of what NOT to bring home are shower flip flops and half full bottles of toiletries that will inevitably spill everywhere.
There are amazing organizers and personal shoppers who will take care of the camp shopping and easy packing for you! I haven’t taken advantage but for overwhelmed parents who need a little extra help – there’s always someone you can call. @barbarareich_lifeorganized offers easy packing services for a happy camper, and @styleinthefly offers camp shopping as well. It could just be the saving grace!
Shoutout to camps who do NOT allow snack bins!!!!! The snack bin is a source of contention – I never understood why kids who have meals, plus several times a day access to the canteen, vending machine, etc. need snacks in their bunks (other than to create dirt, attract bears and give their parents one more errand to do) … just some food for thought to any camp staff out there reading this. Nobody is starving.
It’s a big luxury for the kids to go away, and for us to have a kids free summer (I love my kids, but it’s a win-win to have some time apart too)!
And when the kids are away, the parents shall play! Have a safe and fun summer!
Did you find this easy packing tips & trick helpful? Do you have a happy camper in your family? Share your easy packing tips.
Also, if you love to organize like I do, maybe you will find interesting Lis-on-Organizing Spring Pantry Refresh.
These are all amazing tips! Thank you!!