6 Insider Tips to Prepare Your Child for Overnight Camp
My camp duffel bags are 30 years old. This is the first time since 1986 that they will not make the trek with me from Chicago to Wisconsin for a summer filled with outdoor adventure and friendship. As a life-long camper and now “retired” camp director, I have enough experience to write a doctoral dissertation on how to prepare your child for the essential Jewish-American tradition: going to overnight camp. Instead of boring you with endless suggestions, I’ll share some tried and true advice.
- Shop, label, and pack with your child. Gathering items and labeling them with your child’s name, especially for the first timer, can be a lot of work. Doing this together sets the stage for the camp experience where your child will be responsible for her belongings. Kids should know what they are bringing with them, and parents can keep an eye on making sure that unnecessary or banned items don’t end up in your child’s luggage.
- Be smarter than the packing list. Camp directors spend years creating and reworking the camp’s packing list, but this list is designed for a generic camper, not your You’ll want to follow the packing list recommendations, but you also don’t want to send unnecessary things. For example, if your daughter hates wearing sandals, don’t send her to camp with sandals even if it is on the packing list. (This logic should not be applied to toothbrushes, soap, or shampoo no matter how much your child may dislike using them.) Also, resist the Jewish parent urge to go way beyond what is recommended on the packing list. Your child will have very limited space to keep all of her belongings. I promise that once she gets to camp, she won’t need every gimmicky camp accessory or 10 extra t-shirts.