Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Dos and Don’ts of Day Camp - by Cara

As a veteran of two different Day Camps my son attended over the past two years, I would like to pass along some important information for those parents whose young children will be attending Day Camp for the first time. Here are some of my tips and hints:

1. If your child needs to wear a Camp Shirt with the camp’s logo on it, beg, borrow, buy or be lucky, like me, and accumulate shirts whose parents forgot to put the name inside. I was given one shirt initially, and by the end of the season accumulated six in larger sizes! That one shirt that they provide will otherwise have to be washed daily. Trust me on that one.

2. Speaking of clothing, label, label, label every item of your children’s clothes! Unless you don’t care if it never returns! I have had other children’s underwear and socks come home that I never saw before. Label those too! Even label shoes! My son came home barefoot once because he lost his shoes and couldn’t find them. EVERYTHING has to get labeled!

3. Now as for labeling. One other important item to label are towels. In fact, even if those are labeled, they may never return. I went online this past winter, found beach towels on sale that could be monogrammed and had five of them embroidered with the boldest color they would allow! If you have a supply of old towels that you don’t care never come home, that’s fine too. But I became tired of trying to track down missing towels or sending in other towels that I knew would be lost. And as an aside, some camps have the children use the towels to sit on during the day. Which means laundering towels every day as well. That’s why I now have five. And if your child goes to a camp that requires more than one towel per day, accumulate more!

4. Next is swim attire. Some camps have swim/sprinkler activities twice a day. This, of course, would entail sending in two swim suits per day. Again, stock up on swimsuits that are on sale. I have no less than 10-15 at any given time. And some camps require enclosed swim shoes while others don’t. Always buy an extra pair.

5. Now comes lunch. My son’s camp provides lunch selections, both cold and hot, for an additional cost. Packing a lunch is more economical. But beware of sending foods that have containers that are difficult to maneuver or may leak. I had to throw out a perfectly good lunch tote because my son didn’t eat all of the watermelon I packed for him, forgot to seal up the container, and the tote had to be thrown out because it smelled and was soaked from rotting watermelon. Good thing I have, again, monogrammed, extra lunch totes. And, once again, label, label, label, every container, sandwich bag, bottle of juice or water, snack bag or beverage container. We lost two expensive and environmentally friendly Jr. Sigg
bottles because the “permanent ink” came off while washing them. Make sure everything has your child’s name on it!! And STAYS on it!!

6. Sunscreen is a must. But even if applied at home, your child will need to reapply it while at camp. Even with a label, it will get lost or forgotten somewhere. Label all sunscreens and buy multiples when they are on sale. You will be going through quite a few.

7. Always check the camp schedule for upcoming events. I forgot to send in a clean, white shirt for tie-dye day...twice! And missed red and blue day completely. These things may not matter to you, but when you pick up your child from camp with a sullen look on their face, you’ll know right then and there, you messed up. We hang our schedule on a special kitchen cabinet so that we absolutely can’t miss it. Try to find a suitable place for yours.

8. Finally, as imperative as all of this must sound, try to just go with the flow of camp mishaps and oddities. There will be many. I learned through experience, and so will you. I simply wanted those who have yet to be “initiated” into the camp experience to know what might be waiting for them when they open their child’s backpack. Oh, and one last thing. Use the grungy backpack your child hauled to school every day from this past school year. By the end of camp, your child will be ready for a brand new one to start out the brand new school year!

Hope some of these tips may have helped! Happy camping with your little Day Campers!

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