Perfectly Practical #122 - Summer Camp Tips
By the end of the summer, Diva will have gone from never been to camp to going to 2 summer camps.
Here are a few things we have learned along the way:
Before you do anything, see if there is a list of items to wear, have, bring, send, etc. from the actual camp. Many times there will be a theme night where certain items are suggested/required and it may take you a little while to track down some of the more unusual items.
Use the camp's list as your basic checklist. If the camp thought that my child needed 2 swimsuits then I sent 2; the camp's staff have way more experience with what is necessary for my camper than I do. Saying that, if my child required something surplus to the camp's requirements (like a cuddly toy perhaps) then I added it to the list. You know your child best so use the camp's list as a guideline and flesh out as you see fit from there. Just know the more stuff you send, the more your camper has to keep up with.
Send your child with as little cash as possible. Most camps have a camp store where your camper can buy anything from water to t-shirts to stamps. Consider having an account set up for them at the store. A lot of camps allow (and even encourage) you to pre-pay an account for your child. That way there is no "I lost my money" situation. You are able to top up as the week(s) go on if you see that your munchkin is blowing through their account. For us, we had a talk with Diva about that money being for emergencies not for fancies, as in I fancy this and I fancy that.
Do as much as you can beforehand. We wanted Diva to have the best camp experience possible and part of that is by making each moment count. I didn't want for her to have to dig through a suitcase to find an outfit. I put them together for her. More on this and the actual items to be sent to camp next week.)
Label absolutely everything. There is still no guarantee that you will get back everything you sent with your little darling but labeling their items sure does help.
Think about what you are sending. Again, please consider the items you send "disposable" for the most part. Their clothes may come home ripped or stained beyond repair and there is a good possibility that items will get muddled in with other campers' items and not make it back home. If you have a sentimental or a monetary investment in something, consider finding a cheaper alternative to send with your child.
Send your camper some love. For Diva's first camp, I asked my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece to all write letters to Diva and added them to letters from Engineer and myself. I put the letters in envelopes labeled for each day. In some of the envelopes I would put little things like note cards, stamps, and a list of addresses, or one day it was a couple of week's worth of comics from the Sunday paper, and one day it was a journal. Each day she knew that she was loved and that her family was thinking of her. I also had some of her friends write letters to her at camp. Especially when it's their first time, campers need that extra little boost of confidence that their people back home are thinking of them.
Does anyone have any other good advice for parents of campers?
This is part of Works for Me.