School’s out. Sports are over. PTA meetings are done. Now, it’s time for the highlight of your child’s year: Summer.
And you were a great parent this year! You didn’t want your child sitting in front of video games all summer, so you signed them up for a week (or more) of summer camp. Way to go, Mom and Dad!
The first day of camp is approaching. You’ve bought a foot locker to pack everything in. But wait! What will they really need?
Most summer camps will offer a packing list unique to the experience of that specific camp, but there are a few items that no camper will want to leave behind.
This item should be on every summer camp’s packing list, and it’s there for good reason. Camp is fun, but it can also be strenuous! Your child will spend the majority of his or her week outside in the sun, and at many camps, air conditioning is not available in sleeping areas. Hot days equal lots of sweat. Lots of sweat can equal dehydration, and spending the day (or days) with the camp nurse because of sickness is no way to spend a week at summer camp.
This is probably the most-ignored item on summer camp packing lists. It’s summer camp! Every picture in the brochure and on the website showed beautiful, sunny days! There’s no way it will be rainy while my child is there, right? Wrong.
Summer showers are common in most parts of the country, and although it is unlikely that your child will be caught in days of rain and flooding, a light afternoon shower isn’t uncommon. At summer camp, though, the show must go on! Your child will probably still participate in all the regular camp activities, even in the rain. Take an extra second and pack a waterproof jacket with a hood and some waterproof shoes or rain boots.
Even though those light showers do occur, you’re right, parent – most days at summer camp should be filled with sunshine. Your child should enjoy beautiful blue skies and soak up plenty of rays in the process. But you don’t want them to soak up too many rays, so be sure to pack some sunscreen. SPF 15-30 is a good range, depending on your child’s skin tone, and be sure it is waterproof! Nearly every summer camp will include swimming and/or boating, and your child should break a sweat most days, so non-waterproof sunscreen is mostly useless at camp.
More importantly, teach your child how to apply sunscreen. Let them try it themselves before they leave home, so you can then see the spots they naturally miss. (Aerosol sunscreens are becoming more popular, and they tend to be easier for young children to apply on their own.) In addition, teach your child to apply sunscreen before he or she goes into the sun, as it takes 45 minutes to an hour for applied sunscreen to become effective.
I know, this isn’t what you wanted to hear. You can get on board with a water bottle and sunscreen, but shower shoes? Maybe I shouldn’t send my child to summer camp after all. But the reality is, parents, that part of community living is community baths. Even at the best-maintained camp, shower shoes are a must. Hundreds of people every week are using those bathrooms, and even if they are cleaned every day, it’s better be safe than sorry. Be sure your camper has designated shower shoes, so his or her favorite pair of flip flops don’t stay wet all day.
This is one that is almost never on summer camp packing lists, but especially for water-focused camps or camps in humid locations, baby powder is a must. Rashes are some of the most common medical issues seen at camp, and you don’t want a little moisture to ruin an otherwise fantastic week. Teach your child how and where to apply baby powder, and encourage them not to leave a wet swimsuit on all day. Rash prevention is pretty simple, but it takes a few resources and a little knowledge.
If you can follow your summer camp packing guidelines, and be sure these five things are included as well, chances are, your child will have the best week of his or her life. Even without video games and air conditioning, camp can be relevant and exciting to kids of all ages. Send them to summer camp with these items, and they’ll stay just a little safer.