Summer is finally here and for millions of families, that means heading off to summer camp, many for the very first time.
Camp is a fabulous experience for kids, but one that also requires a bit of parent preparation. Here are 5 things to do before sending your kid to summer camp to make magical memories.
1. Label Everything. Every. Thing.
Each camper should label each and every item they bring with them, be it pillows, toothbrush, shoes, all of their stuff.
Mabel's Labels is the go-to source for labels and they happen to have a Camp Combo for just this very occasion, complete with 3 different sizes and also shoe labels, bag tags, and more. It's a whole lotta labels and believe me, you'll be surprised at how many you need.
I honestly didn't think my daughter would care about the labels. I was very wrong. She loved picking them out and was surprised by how excited she was when the labels arrived. Her love of the labels made it easy to put her to work labeling everything. They stayed on in the laundry that we did so they live up to the laundry safe claim, and also stuck to the backpack, shoes and even underwear we tested it out on. (They also held up well in dance shoe for a month, so I think they'll handle the wear and tear of camp well, too.)
This applies for all summer camps, sleep away or just a couple hours at the park district. We all know that tweens lose items in mere minutes. Labeling is your best hope for actually retaining the items.
If you're tween is just doing day camps around town, the Tween Pack offers 25 personalized labels + graphic labels is probably a better way to go. This gives me hope that we will not need three waters bottles this summer. Fingers crossed! Help me, Mabel, you're my only hope.
2. Talk about camp.
Chance are that going to camp is a relatively new experience for your child. Even if they did it last year, leaving home can still be a big deal for tweens and even for teens.
If they've never gone to camp, check out the camp's website and any videos they've posted together. Check out the schedule. Talk about what looks most fun to them. Ask how they are feeling. Remind them it's okay to be a bit nervous or unsure.
Tell them about your camp experiences and show them old picture if you have them. While they may roll their eyes or mock you, hearing your stories can be helpful and reassuring.
3. Send a letter or two a few days before your child leaves for camp.
The first few days at camp can be when the homesickness is the worst. Mailing a note, or package if it is permitted, in advance so that your child receives something at the first mail call offering a bit of love and reassurance can be a big help.
4. Make sure to pack stationary and stamps if necessary and allowed, for your child to write home and let you know how it's going.
Those letters can be truly priceless. Also, toss in a pen. Those are sometimes tough to find at summer camp.
5. Speaking of packing, start early. Leave lots of time for packing.
Packing can be a big production, as camps have extensive lists of items kids need to bring.
You need time to both acquire all the items and to get them all labeled (see above) and packed.
Being in a crazy rush at 8 p.m. the night before departure wondering why you didn't see that boots were required if your child wishes to ride horses at camp doesn't make anyone happy. Getting the packing done a few days early lets you and your child focus on the fun ahead, and may help you both mentally prepare for departure.
* Don't send anything that you don't want getting dirty, or that you would be crushed to never see again.
* A few extra pairs of socks or underwear never hurt.
* Girls should bring some feminine hygiene products. One mom told me that a girl in her daughter's cabin last year got her period for the first time at camp last year. While that's certain not an ideal scenario, it happens and it is best to be prepared.
Don't forget to wish your child a wonderful time full of new friends and exciting experiences. When they return home, may you enjoy their newfound appreciation of their bed and your cooking!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 7 great tween books for fun summer reading
Disclaimer: Mabel's Labels provided labels for my tween and I to review. I was not compensated and my opinions are solely my own, aided by the wear and tear of my tween on her dance shoes and other items.
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