Off to Sleep-Away Camp!

Good planning and calm reassurance will make the camp experience a great one.

By FamilyTime

 Whether this is your young campers first time away from home or he's an old hand at summer camp, leaving can be tough for both you and your child.

Getting ready for summer camp requires organization and attention. First-time campers need reassurance that camp will be fun and the seasoned camper may need to be kept focused on the task at hand. 

In the end, summer camp is great fun but the experience will be even more successful if your camper is ready for every eventuality.

Preparing for a First-Time Camp Experience

Get your child involved in the list-making, shopping, and packing process. Encourage her to take a favorite stuffed animal or pillow to camp.

Make sure you have everything the camp requires. You don't have to buy a lot of new stuff, but if necessary, keep in mind that that everything may not find its way back home so be sensible about supplies. 

Make a small photo album with pictures of the family and favorite pets. Young children especially enjoy sharing these pictures with other campers and counselors.

Packing for Camp

Most camps send lists of required and recommended items. Follow the list closely, particularly if this is your child's first time at the camp.

Don't send new or "good" sheets, blankets or towels. Include a laundry bag and raingear. Don't send the camper off with new shoes--a sure prescription for blisters.

Make sure your child has plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent (and instructions to use both!), and very basic first-aid supplies such as adhesive bandages. Mark everything with an indelible marker or with name tags.

If your child requires medication, be sure to contact the camp director or nurse about it. Send enough for your child's camp stay, or arrange to have it delivered in plenty of time.

Don't forget extras, such as addressed and stamped postcards and envelopes, extra stationery and stamps, all packed in a waterproof bag. If your child will have access to computers at camp, you may be satisfied with email alone.

Remember a camera and charger or batteries (waterproof disposable cameras are good investments), books, magazines, a journal, and, if the camp permits, MP3 players. Most camps discourage cell phones; check on the policy of yours. 

Your Part

A few days before your son or daughter leaves for camp, send him or her a postcard or letter that will be there upon arrival. If you can email, send one that will be waiting for your offspring. Keep the tone light and encouraging. 

While your child is away from home, plan to send him letters, email, and small packages. Most camps discourage gifts of food or candy but you can send comic books and small gifts, such as a new pair of sunglasses.   

Don't expect a steady stream of letters in return. In this case, no news is good news! For more on camps, visit