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Camp 101: 5 Ways to Stay Organized at Summer Camp

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Hey, Camp Parents!

Imagine your child is at summer camp, and it’s time for the long hike into the woods. The sunscreen and insect repellent are somewhere, but he just can’t find them among the pile of clothes in the bag or on the floor. All the other kids are walking toward the trailhead. It’s time to go, so he leaves without it, and when the counselor asks whether everybody remembered to put on sunscreen and insect repellent, he is too embarrassed to do anything other than stay silent.

Your child will be more likely to enjoy his summer camp experience, and you’ll feel much better about it, if you help him or her avoid situations like this by staying organized during the time away from home.

Here are five ways to do it:

Pack as Little as Needed
The more stuff they have to keep track of, the more likely they are to lose something, and space is typically very limited at camp sites full of kids. Parents spend too much time and energy obsessing about being prepared for every possibility and worrying that their child won’t have enough clothes. Younger children in particular won’t care if they end up wearing the same clothes more than once.

Send a Checklist
A list of everything they brought, broken into categories such as clothes and toiletries, will make it easier for them to find what they need and to pack up when it’s time to leave. Some items you send him to camp with, you might not expect back, so you could make a second list for repacking at the end of the trip.

Bags, Containers, or Compartments
Make it easy on your child to pick out clothes and find other items by using bags, containers, or compartments. For smaller children and shorter camp stays, you can put each day’s outfit into a separate small bag, like a one- or two-gallon Ziploc. toiletries, medications, batteries, and anything else can each be put into separate bags. Ziploc bags are also good to keep pests away from items they might find tasty.

If you’re planning a lot of camping, try a reusable product such as a bunk organizer or a pop-up soft trunk, which is like a big duffel bag with lots of pockets to keep related items together and separate from other items. Use these items on family camping trips in preparation for summer camp, and you and your child will get used to the size and location of every pocket.

Label Everything
When you label all the items you send up, your child is less likely to lose them, and there is less of a chance of a dispute between two children about to whom something belongs. Labeling individual bags is a good idea, too. That will increase the chance the items in each bag, whether toiletries or medicine, will make it back into the right bag when your child is done using them.

Do as Much Preparation Ahead of Time as Possible
Begin making lists and shopping months ahead of time to make sure you have your bags, lists and labels finished with plenty of time to spare, and to make sure you have everything you need but not more than you need. Remember the time you were upset with your child for waiting until the last minute to do that homework assignment? Don’t make the same mistake.

And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John


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