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Family Matters

What to Pack for Summer Camp

May 1st, 2013

By: Amanda Formaro

Your child is registered for overnight camp and the time is approaching quickly. Soon you'll be packing their bags and sending them off on an adventurous summer vacation...but what to pack? What's okay to bring and what's not okay? How will you know exactly what to send with your child and what to leave home? THere are some essential things you'll need to know when packing for camp.

Before you even begin, the first thing you'll want to do is check with your camp and see if they already have a list created for you. Some camps may even have a handy printable list that includes what's acceptable and what's forbidden. Some facilities may allow electronic devices such as cell phones and MP3 players, while others may be completely "unplugged." Check your camp's website, or if in doubt, just call. Their staff will be happy to help clarify things for you.

Once you've established what is allowed and what isn't, it's time to get down to business. The easiest thing to do is to make a simple list. At the top of a piece of paper write these three columns: Hygiene, Clothing, and Personal Items.

Hygiene Items

The Hygiene column will include shower and personal care items, deodorant, hairbrush and hair accessories, toothpaste and toothbrush, feminine items for teens, and lotions or creams. If your child takes any medications, be sure to list these and check with your camp to see if they have a medication release form that you need to complete. Bug spray, lip balm, sunscreen, and a mini first aid kit are all good items to include as well.

Clothing Items

Be sure to include how many pairs of socks and undergarments will be needed, as well as the number of pants and shorts necessary. A bathing suit, tank tops and short sleeve tops are a given. For cool evenings or days with unpredictable weather, a "hoodie" or sweatshirt is good to have on the list, and perhaps a jacket or poncho in case it rains. Before you discount gloves, consider whether or not your child will be hiking, rock or rope climbing. Other items to consider include hats and sunglasses as well as appropriate footwear, such as sandals, tennis shoes, water shoes and hiking boots. Be sure to pack a couple of towels as well. Last but not least, don't forget the pajamas and slippers!

Personal Items

In the last column you'll want to include any personal items such as a framed family photo for their nightstand, a favourite pillowcase, or maybe your child has a stuffed animal they won't be without. If your camp allows electronics, list them here, but be sure to cover the rules for such devices with your child. Other personal items might include stationary and a pen with self-addressed stamped envelopes, a camera and a good book. If cell phones aren't allowed, a calling card is a great item for the list. Other fun items might include a deck of cards or a travel sized game. A small flashlight with extra batteries is a good addition as well as some spending money if your camp offers souvenirs or off-site trips. Finally, be sure to check and see if your camp provides bedding, or if children will be responsible for bringing their own pillow and sleeping bag.

Being well prepared ahead of time will make for a pleasant packing experience and a joyous departure for camp!

Amanda Formaro is a contributor at Reprinted with permission from

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