With the school year rapidly coming to an end (18 days and counting), our house is full excitement for the summer. As a family, we look forward to all the fun things we get to go during the warm weather – trips to the zoo, local amusement parks and our annual week at the Jersey Shore. This year we’re adding something new to our summer repertoire – camp.
Summer camp can be a great experience for kids. It doesn’t matter if it’s a day camp, or a sleep away one – the experience helps to develop a child’s independence, socialization skills, keep them physically active and build their self-confidence.
This will be my son’s first-ever experience with summer camp. I spent several weeks researching various options and relied on local parenting publications, family/child oriented websites, recommendations from other parents and spoke to several camp directors in narrowing down my choices.
I wound up enrolling my son in an eight week day camp program that caters exclusively to the young child (aged 2-8 years old). The camp features small group sizes and has a good camper to counselor ratio which was important to me. Since the camp is local to where we live several of his friends from his kindergarten class are also going there. He’s excited that he’ll be there with some of his friends and is already planning out all the activities he’ll be doing all summer long such as swimming, biking, karate, woodworking, engineering with LEGO, ceramics, photography, go carts and sports clinics.
I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of my son. It sounds like a lot of fun which makes me want to go to camp too!
Now that the paperwork and medical forms have all been filled out (and let me tell you, it was like applying for a bank loan or going to college!), I put together a checklist of things my boy will need for his summer adventure.
Here’s The Harried Mom’s list of summer day camp essentials:
- Backpack – Since it will take a beating going to-and-from camp each day and will very likely get wet, I’m making sure to get one that is durable, made from sturdy fabric or nylon and not plastic. I’m also going to get one that has a compartment large enough to hold extra clothes, swim gear and towels and also features a smaller outside zippered compartment for easy reach of tissues, sunscreen, etc.
High Sierra Fatboy Backpack $34.99 at Everything Summercamp
- Lunchbox – Since the camp doesn’t refrigerate the kids lunches I’m looking for a thermal canvas tote lunch bag and reusable ice packs. I’ve often seen these items available during the summer months at my local grocery and drug store in the season aisle. If you have no luck there, you’re likely to find them at a big box or even a sporting goods store in their camping section. I’m also getting one of those rock climbing clips so I can loop my son’s lunchbox to his backpack.
Built NY Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote Black $17.99 at Zappos
- Clothing – Tucked into the bottom of my son’s backpack will be a large resealable bag (Ziploc makes bags just for this stuff!) with an extra set of clothes from underwear to outerwear in case my boy child gets super dirty, wet or has an accident. I’ll also send a lightweight sweatshirt jacket/hoodie or light rain slicker since it might be chilly in the early mornings when he gets to camp or when its cloudy/rainy out. I’m making sure I have multiple pairs of sneakers on hand since he’s so rough on his shoes. Also a must is a baseball cap, sun visor or bucket hat to keep him protected from the sun.
T-shirt, shorts & baseball cap from Old Navy, prices range from $9 to $12 each
- Swim Gear – The camp suggests 2-piece bathing suits for both boys and girls – trunks for boys/bikini bottoms for girls and either short of long-sleeved rash guards to protect them from the sun. Swim shoes or flip-flops, a super absorbent & over-sized beach towel and goggles are also on the list. I’ll also be sending in a plastic shopping bag daily for my son to place all his swim clothes in when he’s done so everything else in his backpack won’t get soaking wet.
Rash guard $14.99, swim trunks14.94 and flip-flops $3.94, all from Old Navy
Seaside Beach Towel $29.50 from LL Bean
- Sundries – Sunglasses (make sure you have several extra pairs since these are easily breakable and can get lost quite often), sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, hand sanitizer, individual Wet Wipes, insect repellent or bug bands and tissues — all the things he will and just might need during the course of a day.
Coppertone SPF 50 Kid sunscreen, Bug Bands bug band & Wet Wipes Ones
- Water Bottle – Water is the drink at camp! I’m looking for the largest insulated thermos or water bottle that my boy can hold (I’ve seen them as large as 32 oz). If you’re not into the reusable water bottle thing, you could freeze individual water bottles each night and send those off with the kids.
Camelbak eddy Water Bottle $15 at Target
Chances are high that my son will l leave or lose something during his time at camp, so it’s most important that I label EVERYTHING. I’ll use permanent markers for most items, but I prefer iron-on or stick-on labels for all his clothing, swimwear & towels.
Now it’s your turn to share. Did you go to camp when you were a kid? What was your favorite part about summer camp?
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