Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Packing for summer camp 101

This year was a little different getting everyone ready for summer camp.
My son was finally old enough to go, so I had 4 people to get ready.

Here are a couple tips that I have found invaluable in packing for summer camp:

Have you seen these bags?
I have only been able to find them at hardware stores such as Home Depot, but they are PERFECT
for sleeping bags, pillows, towels and other linens.
They are really sturdy and thick, but it doesn't make any difference if they don't come home.
This is the second or third year that I've packed my children's bedding and linens in them, and this is the third year that every bag came home full of the same bedding and wet towels, and the bags did not tear or have holes in them.
I HIGHLY recommend them.

I know this next tip is probably my OCD coming out, but bear with really helps my children.
I go through my children's clothes and we pick out 5 outfits for the week (you might need more if your children are at camp longer than mine were.)
Hint:  They shouldn't be brand new, designer label clothes.
NOBODY cares.
They WILL get filthy.
They MAY get lost.
It doesn't matter if your child is the cutest one at camp or not.
That's not the point.
But I do care that my children don't wear the same outfit everyday for 5 days in a row.
I was a camp counselor for 2 summers.
I remember how the children smelled who did that.
I don't want to do that to my children's counselor, especially since it's not necessary.
Anyway, after we've picked out the outfits, I grab a bag from the box above and stuff an outfit into the bag.
Then I label it Monday.
Then we stuff the next bag with the next day's outfit and put Tuesday on it,
and on we go until we've bagged up the entire weeks worth of clothes.
I only put a pair of pants, a shirt, and clean socks into these bags.
The underwear go into a separate bag with the jammies since they usually shower up at night.
(yes, I put all 3 or 4 pairs of jammies into a separate bag with 5 changes of underwear)
I pack a trash bag into the suitcase and instruct my children that as they take off their filthy clothes for the day,
they need to stuff them into the trash bag.

Each child gets one suitcase/duffel bag and their giant bag of bedding.
I label every sock and toothbrush and underwear and shirt and shoe with their name.
They take one pair of tennis shoes, one pair of sandals or flip flops for chapel, and one pair of flip flops for the pool.
One bath towel, and one beach towel for the pool.
One play outfit for every day, and one dressier outfit for chapel every night.
I instruct them to hang them up after every time they use them so the towel will be dry when they need it next.

I do all this in hopes of training my children how to stay organized in a group setting.
I remember seeing children (as a camp counselor) with their suitcases open and all their nicely folded clothes in a big heap.
Stuff gets lost or mixed up or wet.
Lexi is nearly 13 now, and she didn't need as much of this this year.
She can keep track of stuff better now, and knows how to match an outfit or problem solve if a shirt falls on the floor and gets muddy.
It's a nearly flawless system and my girls have come home with every article of everything they've taken.

Now, my son on the other hand.
We weren't as fortunate.
When he mentioned that he forgot his $2 flip-flops, I was okay with that.
When he said that his Bible was under his bed at camp, I was fine.
But after I had washed and hung up every stitch of clothing that went to camp, I realized I was missing
a collared shirt that he needed for chapel in the evenings.
Then I realized I had only hung up one pair of his jeans.
He took 3.
And the tan shorts.....that I had just bought because he had outgrown nearly all his other shorts.
And don't mind that hard-to-miss, oversized bath towel.
The beach towel for swim time made it home, but the shower towel was not so lucky.

So I learned my lesson this year.
No matter how detailed your system is, no matter how many times you go over the routine with your children,
8 year old boys (especially those with ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER) just aren't
thinking of those things when they are in a hurry and having the time of their life!!!

This is the pile of laundry we had when they all got back.
But they had a wonderful time.
All the work in getting them ready is so worth the fun and the memories and the spiritual challenges they experienced all week!!

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