PACKING LIST TIPS FOR PARENTS AND KIDS, PART 2
- Hand Towels. This is the best thing to use for washing up because it dries faster than a beach or bath towel. Two or three hand towels should be plenty.
- Large Towels. Large beach or bath towels are treated cruelly and left all around camp, so find some older ones around your house, and pack three or four. Cotton terrycloth is best.
- Toiletry or “Dop” Kit. These kits are handy because you may have to walk from your living quarters to the bathrooms and showers. Choose a plastic, vinyl, or fabric kit, as opposed to leather, which rots if it stays wet. Here’s what kids should include in their kit:
- Baby Powder or Foot Powder. (Excellent for counteracting strong odors and preventing chafing in hot weather.)
- Comb or Brush. (There’s no need to bring blow dryers or curling irons. This is camp, not school.)
- Deodorant / Anti-Perspirant. (If you use deodorant, remember that most camps do not allow aerosols, so pack a stick or roll-on.)
- Feminine Hygiene Products. (Female campers who have not yet menstruated should still bring pads or tampons in case they have their first period at camp.)
- Insect Repellent. (As with deodorant, don’t pack an aerosol can. Get lotion or stick repellent instead. Try some at home to be sure you’re not allergic to it. Don’t use 100% “deet” [N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide] repellents unless your camp is located deep in the boggy woods. Deet repellent is powerful but hazardous if used incorrectly. Something milder, such as OFF!® lotion or Cutter’s® stick repellent will probably suffice.)
- Lip Balm. (Sun, cold, and dry weather can all chap lips, especially if you’re not used to those environments.)
- Nail Clippers. (Bring these for any camp stay longer than a week.)
- Shampoo. (Be sure the container fits inside your toiletries kit.)
- Shaving Gear. (For young men and women, if needed.)
- Soap & Soap Box. (Make sure the soap box closes securely.)
- Sunblock. (Choose SPF 15 or higher; waterproof if possible. Use it often.)
- UV Protective Swimshirts. (Especially great for those sensitive to sunblock ingredients, these comfortable, quick-drying, breathable shirts block 97.5% of the sun's harmful rays.)
- Tissues. (These are always handy, and more sanitary than a shirt sleeve.)
- Toothbrush & Holder. (The holder will keep the brush from getting dirty.)
- Toothpaste. (Get a regular-size tube, not a dinky travel tube.)
- Bean Bag Ball. Bean bag balls or Hackey Sacks® are a popular and fun way to improve coordination for field sports like soccer. You might not like bean bags at all, but we put this on the list as an example of the best kind of toy you can bring to camp: it’s fun, small, inexpensive, rugged, doesn’t need batteries, and can be played with a group of friends. We recommend bringing a few toys with these specifications to overnight camp.
- Books / Magazines. All overnight camps have some quiet time built into their schedule. Good books and magazines fill this time well. Summer reading lists from schools are excellent choices, but make sure you also pack a few other selections as well.
- Camera. Disposable cameras are best. They are sturdy, take decent pictures, and if they get lost or broken, it’s no big deal. Environmentally conscious families can purchase recycled disposable cameras at natural foods stores.
- Fishing Pole & Tackle Box. Some camps near water have excellent fishing. Just be sure to leave any knives at home. Knives aren’t allowed at most camps. Instead of a fillet knife, pack a small pair of manicure scissors for snipping line, and let the camp chef fillet your catch.
- Flashlight. Pack a durable, bright flashlight. Pack extra alkaline batteries and a spare bulb. Don’t rely on those little key chains that light up when you squeeze them. They’re cute, but they don’t last long. They may be perfect for lighting your keyhole, but they’re useless in the dark woods.
- Flying Disk. Frisbees®, Aerobies®, and other flying disks are like bean bag balls: fun, small, inexpensive, almost unbreakable, without batteries, and playable with a group of friends. An ideal toy to bring to camp. Remember to label it with a laundry marker.
- Glasses Repair Kit. Some camps are far from glasses repair shops, so if you wear glasses, you may want to pack a small screwdriver and an extra screw for loose bows or nosepieces. These kits are inexpensive and available at most drug stores. You might also pack some lens cleaning cloths.
- Laundry Bag. Not all camps require campers to have individual laundry bags, but it helps. Buy one that’s big enough to hold a week’s worth of clothes, and with a draw-string closure to prevent odors from leaking out. Remember to label it, just like everything else. If possible, wash the bag with the rest of your clothes on laundry day.
- Musical Instruments. Although many musical instruments are delicate, music and camp go together, and having an instrument at camp is a great way to make new friends. Guitars, brass instruments, woodwinds, and harmonicas are especially popular. If you are uncertain about whether your instrument will have a safe home at camp, call the camp and ask. Also, check with the camp before bringing large instruments or electric instruments and amplifiers. Campers may not have access to electrical outlets, and amplified music may be against the camp’s policy.
- MP3 Players, Personal Stereos and Headphones. If personal stereos are allowed by the camp, you may wish to bring one. Music is a good diversion during quiet times at camp. However, like everything else you bring to camp, there’s a chance it will get broken. Don’t bring anything that would be difficult to replace. Remember to pack extra alkaline batteries, and respect your fellow campers by not blasting your personal stereo.
- Playing Cards. A deck of playing cards or a card game such as Uno® are perfect for camp. Some kids also like to bring plastic poker chips for pretend gambling.
- Sock Bag. These handy inventions are designed to hold all your dirty socks. When you throw the full bag in the laundry, the socks get washed, but stay in the bag. This makes for effortless sorting when the laundry comes back. One good brand is the Sockmonster Sak™. (See Chapter 18 for ordering information.) You can also purchase a zippered mesh bag at any discount department store or outdoor supply store.
- Sports / Specialty Equipment. Good camps should be fully stocked with all the equipment that a camper needs to participate in daily activities. However, many kids enjoy bringing their own equipment, especially if it’s broken in and they’re used to using it. For example, you may want to bring your tennis racquet, lacrosse stick, baseball glove, rock-climbing shoes, or soccer shin guards. If you’re attending a specialty overnight camp, check the information packet to see whether you need to bring certain equipment or supplies, such as riding boots, computer disks, or tennis balls.
- Water Bottle or Canteen. The best ones are made of tough plastic or metal and seal completely when you screw the top on. You don’t want water leaking all over your backpack or sleeping bag. Big plastic cups with built-in straws are OK for working out or playing tennis, but you can’t take them on hiking trips because they leak and spill.
- Writing Paper / Envelopes / Stamps. Humidity is the enemy of envelopes and stamps. If you’re not careful, everything will stick together and become useless. There are two ways to combat this problem. Either seal your envelopes and stamps in a big zippered plastic freezer bag, or buy “no-lick” self-sealing envelopes and adhesive stamps. Pack all the stationery, envelopes, and stamps you will need. Many camps do not sell stationery or stamps.
Things Not to Bring
- Electronics. Many camps ban electronic equipment, including personal stereos, handheld video games, portable stereos, laptops, palmtops, televisions, beepers, and cellular phones. If you want to bring electronics to camp, check the information packet first, to be sure it’s allowed. Even if electronics are allowed, consider leaving them at home and enjoying nature, a book, outdoor activities, or your cabin mates’ company instead.
- Food. We advise against bringing food and storing it in your cabin, unless that’s the usual practice at your camp. On the one hand, food in the cabin is like a giant neon “Welcome!” sign for ants, mice and other critters. Food in the cabin also discourages campers from eating the balanced meals that the camp chef prepares for them. On the other hand, junk food and home-baked goodies are fun treats. Find out what is allowed at your camp, and plan accordingly. All campers should remember to share the food they bring and receive.
- Over the Counter (OTC) Drugs. Drugs available without a prescription, such as cough syrup, aspirin, and other pain relievers are still drugs, and drugs are not allowed at camp. Don’t worry, the camp health center or infirmary will have everything you need if you are injured or sick. Many parents think they can send OTC drugs with their children because they know their children are responsible, but that’s not the issue. Other kids might go through your stuff and use those drugs in an irresponsible way. Certain OTC drugs can be dangerous to campers who do not know how to use them. That’s why, at most camps, campers are only allowed to keep asthma inhalers and bug repellent with them. If you think your medical situation necessitates your carrying OTC drugs around camp, discuss it with the camp director in the months before camp starts. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a workable solution. Some camps do allow kids to keep certain OTC drugs.
- Weapons / Flammables / Explosives. This is overnight camp, not Army boot camp. Knives, guns, matches, lighters, brass knuckles, box cutters, fireworks, and any other weapons are strictly forbidden. If your fishing tackle box includes a knife, you should leave it at home. If you’d like to bring a pocket knife for camping, find out whether that’s permitted.
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