Cumulatively, I’ve spent more than forty years as a scout mom, and packed kids off for almost as many camp sessions. Sending kids of for the best possible summer camp experience is all about the checklist.
Here’s a checklist of five things you can do to make this summer’s camp the best one yet.
Please note: I have received promotional consideration from Minute Clinic.
Both our day camp and our overnight camps send parents a detailed list of what you should send, and items that should stay at home. Look it over carefully and talk about it with your child, so you are both clear. This helps kids set expectations, in case they need to leave electronics at home, or if it’s okay to bring that favorite stuffed animal discreetly in the sleeping bag.
I always take the packing list with me to the store, so I can check off items as they are purchased. This was learned efficiency after a few last-minute runs to the store for forgotten items.
Make Your Child Part of the Process
Let you camper help you set a budget, go to the store with you, and pick out the items they need from her packing list. It will help get them excited about camp, and make them feel ownership of everything it takes to get ready for camp.
Make sure you balance the requirements of the checklist with your child’s personal taste. If they need a new backpack, make sure it’s right for camp and in your price range, then let them pick the color.
This is so important, if you can make it happen. Some camps will let you call ahead to schedule a tour, and even meet some of the counselors. Knowing what to expect, and seeing some friendly faces can help calm advance nerves and make the first day of camp less stressful.
Also, don’t underestimate how secure it can make you feel. Seeing the people who will be caring for your kid for a week helps me feel less worried too!
Capture the Memories
I wish I had done this better! we do have end-of-camp group photos from a few of my daughters’ day camps, but I wish I’d prepared more to help capture the memories as they happened.
Send a journal and even a disposable camera (yes, they still make these) packed with your camper. It’s a great way to share the memories with you when they get home, and to preserve them for later days.
Let your kids know if it’s okay to exchange phone numbers or email addresses with camp buddies. My kids have really enjoyed staying in touch with summer camp friends, once they were in upper grades of elementary school.
Get a Camp Physical
Even if your camp doesn’t require a physical every year, it’s a good idea to make sure your child is up-to-date on his immunizations, and to check his overall health.
We’ve gone to Minute Clinic for my daughter’s camp physical, and were very pleased by the fast, professional services we received. We’ve always been seen by the nurse practitioner right away, but if we’d had a short wait it would have been a good opportunity to shop CVS for those camp essentials.
The school year has ended. Summer camps are a great way to give your kids lots of active outdoor time, and a way to make new friends and make memories that will last. Send them off prepared, and don’t forget to enjoy the time apart. It’s good for both of you!