Summer Camp 101: 5 Tips for Sending Your Kids to Camp

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ah, summertime. ‘Tis the season for hot sunshine, cold drinks, barefeet, and sending your kids to camp! Some of my fondest childhood memories took place at summer camp! That’s why sending my oldest son to the exact same 4H camp I attended 25 years ago has me just bursting with excitement!

summer camp-kids-outdoors-mrs. pennington-camp palmer

I’ll admit, I’m a newbie to sending my kid away for days on end. I can’t claim to be an expert of surviving 4.5 days without hearing from him. I’ll update you on my crybaby status once that’s all over. I do, however, have a pretty awesome system for getting him to camp with all the things he will need to survive for the week. You know–coordinating clothes, clean underwear, a toothbrush? Things he’d certainly forget without the help of his mom, right?! If you’re sending your kids to camp, I have some helpful packing tips to make your life easier (and to make them look presentable when you’re not there!)

5 Tips for Sending Your Kids to Camp

#1: Put Outfits Together

My Max is one of the smartest kids I know, but when it comes to getting dressed he’s a #hotmess. To save him from his typical 10 year old boy fashion faux pas issues I paired shorts with shirts AND clean socks and underwear. Then rolled the complete outfit up and secured with a hair elastic. I also slipped in a small note of encouragement or praise for the day at camp as I know he will surely miss me a little (maybe?). I also paired things like his shark swim trunks and beach towel (and of course a motherly note reminding him to hang them >when wet.


packing-camp-summer camp-kids
Bundling swim trunks with a beach towel so kids don’t drag their shower towel all over camp!
             Bundling whole outfits together with small notes from home

#2 Bathroom Supplies

I tried to keep this simple and waterproof! A clear tub with a hole in the bottom to let water out, all his products, and a lid labeled with his name. Included in the tub are:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Bodywash (notice he chose the “man” version!)
  • Deodorant
  • Bug spray (homemade by mom with Young Living essential oils)
  • Ella Sophia brand Sunscreen (also 100% natural with Young Living essential oils)
  • Young Living essential oil roller bottles–one allergy blend for bug bites, and one lavender for sleeping
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Hairspray for camp’s  “formal night”

                                   Pack all toiletries and liquids in an easy to transport tub

#3 Reminders of Home

Coming from the person who mourns the loss of her beloved “nighty night” (aka baby blanket) every day, those lovies from home are important! I left my blanket in a hotel the night before I left for Hawaii when I was 19 and am STILL pissed that we didn’t go back to get it! Was it really too much to ask the pilot to delay the flight a tiny bit? Anyways. Maybe not everyone, especially my 10 year old boy, is as open and shameless about their comfort items as I am. That doesn’t mean they don’t still want them though. That’s why I slipped teddy and a family photo keychain into Max’s pillow case. He can choose to boldly display them on his made bunk at camp, or sneak them out by the light of the moon.

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                      Slip comfort items from home  into the pillowcase

#4 Pack Practically

While it’s easy to get carried away and pack everything but the kitchen sink, try to be practical. One bag can easily hold a week’s worth of rolled up clothing. I then packed sheets, bath towel, and the toiletry box  (and maybe a bag of forbidden snacks) into a round laundry basket. When we arrive, we will make up the bed and store the contents of the basket underneath. Then dirty clothes can go right into the basket at the end of each day. When we leave camp at the end of the week, the bag will then hold bedding and toiletry items and the laundry basket can go straight to the washer!

#5 Don’t Forget to Write!

Everyone loves getting mail that isn’t bills or junk!  I already wrote Max a quick letter that we all signed. I’ll mail it on the day I drop him off at camp to ensure it gets there by the end of camp. I also added a self addressed stamped envelope, paper, and pen to his bag so that he can write home if he chooses! I’m not holding my breath, but a mom can hope, right? (No, really, I hope he has so much fun at camp that he’s way too busy to even worry about me!)

And a little bonus tip, just because-

While your camper is off singing Kumbaya by the fire,  ENJOY your time! Whether this leaves you with an empty house, or a mom to one less for a week, enjoy it! While I have some professional development to attend for school during part of the week, I full intend to soak up every second I can of one on one with my littlest man during the rest of the time big brother is away! If I’m being totally honest, I’m actually counting down the days until BOTH kids leave for taekwondo camp later this month!


Are your kiddos going to camp this year? What kind of camp? Share your camp stories in the comments!


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  1. Cath - BattleMum says:

    I love these tips. I’m not sure if they have camps here in Portugal but if my son ever gets to go to one I’ll be keeping these in mind. I always roll clothes and usually prepare outfits for my son ahead of time but I love the idea of the note too. So thoughtful!

  2. Sharon says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips! The only time I ever went to camp was school camp that our whole class went to for two and a half days. It was a lot of fun.

  3. Mica says:

    These are great tips! While we don’t have camps here I might use the outfit ideas when packing on an upcoming trip with the boys – it will keep things so organised and make mornings simpler while travelling!

  4. Sam says:

    Love the bundling clothes idea… so much more organized than just throwing everyone’s stuff in a single duffle bag.

  5. Jessica Pennington says:

    Are you also as crazy as I am and try to make everyone coordinate when you go as a family? Haha!

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