Stress Free Preparation for 
Overnight Camps 1

A parent’s work is never done. Now that school is winding down, it’s time to start preparing kids for overnight summer camp. To keep camp prep simple and stress free, here are easy tips from the experts to make sure you and your child start their overnight camp experience on the right foot.

Make a Camp Box.

Every overnight camp has a packing list. Download the list a month before your child leaves. Then, put a camp box in their room where you can start dropping supplies as you pick them up, (or find them scattered throughout the house). So when you come across that headlamp in the kitchen drawer, because of course that’s where it belongs, just drop it in the box. Starting early can help take the stress out of getting all the gear together the week before.

Go Shopping.

No matter if it’s your child’s first camp experience, or their 10th, an annual shopping trip for camp can get them excited about the experience. Just remember, don’t buy anything expensive and don’t send kids with anything that can’t get dirty or lost. If you want it returned, label it.

Assemble Care Packages.

While you are shopping for camp gear, have the kids pick out a few items they’d like in their care package too. Toby Grady with Camp Evergreen suggests items that can be shared or played in a group such as travel games, autograph pillow cases, temporary tattoos, fake mustaches, mad libs, craft kits, a hackey sack or Frisbee. My boys always liked the fantasy game cards like Pokemon, Magic Cards, etc.

Practice Independence.

If this is your child’s first camp experience, do a trial run at a friend or relative’s house, preferably someone they don’t know too well. Don’t allow them phone contact, and see how they do. Afterwards, talk to them about how they felt being separated from home. Reassure them it’s OK to be a little homesick at camp, but they’ll get through it, and don’t offer to bring them home early. Shawn Mayler of Camp Rockmont for Boys says parents promising pick-up deals only complicate the developmental process. Working through those away-from-home experiences in a supportive community like camp is much preferable to navigating those feelings during the freshman year of college.

Keep Counselors Informed.

If your child has an issue, be sure to let the counselors know before camp begins, rather than letting them find out during the camp session. For instance if your child sleepwalks, counselors can put a bell on the door. If your child occasionally wets the bed (5% of school-aged children do), counselors can wake him up during the night, or give her time to discretely get rid of disposable pants. Whatever the issue, your child will be better off if counselors are prepared ahead of time.

For Summer Camp Packing Tips, visit Field Trips with Sue, Family Travel Blog.