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How to pack for summer camp

With summer just around the corner, it’s almost time to start shipping your kids off to camp! But before they head off for swimming, hiking and tent-pitching, stock up with the right items for a happy, healthy camp experience.

Girls at summer camp

Whether it’s their first time away from home or they are camp pros, don’t let them leave for their adventure without reading these tips.

Step 1: Fight the sun

Protect your camper from the sun with a good sunscreen and lip balm. Most likely, your camper will be spending the majority of time outside, and the last thing they want to do at camp is nurse a painful sunburn or deal with chapped lips. Other ways to protect your child from the sun and painful skin:

  • A clip-on lip balm that can be attached to your child’s belt loop and stay with them at all times
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray

Step 2: Curb dehydration

It’s easy to get dehydrated at camp with all the outdoor activity, so make sure your camper has a reusable water bottle to accompany her wherever she goes. Many camps have water fountains or water jugs at mealtimes that make it easy to keep those bottles filled throughout the day.

Step 3: Take comfort

Sure, part of the fun of camp is leaving behind at-home comforts, but a fitted sheet from home for your camper’s bunk, in addition to the standard sleeping bag and pillow, can help make their space feel like their own. Plus, the more you think about how many people have slept on those bunk beds, the more appealing a sheet to cover up that old camp mattress sounds. Other ways to make a home away from home:

  • Extra blanket
  • Book for downtime
  • Favorite stuffed animal
  • Picture of the family

Step 4: Be practical

Trade in the latest fashions for older clothes your camper won’t mind getting dirty or even ripped. Be sure to pack layers; even if it’s sunny and warm during the day, the weather can get chilly at night and in the early mornings. Make sure your camper has a sturdy pair of closed-toed shoes, and also brings an extra pair of equally comfortable and functional shoes. Camp includes a lot of activities that involve elements like water and mud, which can put shoes out of commission for a day or two. Other practical items to pack:

  • Warm sweatshirt
  • Light sweater
  • Flip-flops for the shower
  • One nicer outfit for special camp events

Step 5: Trade technology

Camp is a great opportunity for kids and teens to disconnect from the technological world, and since most camps confiscate personal electronics such as cell phones and iPods upon check-in, your child’s electronics are better off staying at home with you. Instead, send your camper off with stationery so they can write letters home and feel connected to their family while they are away. Do your part and write letters to them too—getting snail mail at camp is fun!

More summer tips

How to find the right summer camp
Summer beach must-haves for kids
Family camping checklist

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