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Packing smarter, not harder, for summer camp

“Be prepared” might be a popular Scout motto, but the phrase is also applicable to the world of camping. When leaving home, a camper of any age can benefit from a quick refresh of what to bring and what to leave at home. Here are a few tips to help your camper make sure they’re prepared for their experience without being overpacked.

Pack early 

Start packing and preparing well ahead of time. Many camps provide supply checklists early on for convenient shopping. While a lot of supplies can be picked up from major retailers, specialty items like camp trunks or duffle bags might need to be ordered online or shipped from a specialty store. When picking up items online, make sure to calculate shipping time into the calendar to make sure all items arrive on time.

Parents and kids can also team up and create a personal packing list of other items. While you want to ensure your child is prepared for camp, it’s important not to overpack. Make sure to involve your child in the packing process. They know what clothes and tee-shirts are going to be the most comfortable, and without some guidance, some younger campers may be tempted to re-wear the same outfit multiple times or only wear the outfit on top of the suitcase. 

Weatherproof yourself

Packing items in plastic is a quintessential packing hack. Whether a camper is facing spring rain showers or summer days at the pool, plastic will help protect important items like clothes, towels, shoes and personal belongings from rain, mud, and anything else that could sully the camp experience. Protective covers and tarps are also manufactured as add-ons for many tents and sleeping bags, making it easy to keep any precipitation at bay both inside and out.

Plastic is also handy for storing items like wet bathing suits or mud-slicked shoes. For younger campers, packing individual outfits and other items into categorized Ziploc bags can help them stay organized even away from home.

Label everything

Break out the markers and label makers. Label personal items with a camper’s first and last name to ensure that nothing gets misplaced, stolen or accidentally mixed into another camper’s bag. If items are packed in plastic bags or containers, label each one separately to help your camper stay organized and reassure that no clothes or supplies suddenly go missing. Labels can also help younger campers stay organized and on-track with their own luggage.

Save on space

Tents and duffel bags aren’t always roomy. Simple packing techniques like rolling clothes and towels and stuffing socks into shoes are small changes that will free up space for more camping supplies in a suitcase or duffel bag. Also make sure to save extra space for any crafts or other projects a camper might want to bring home. Finally, when loading the car, make sure your camper is physically able to lift, carry or pull their own suitcase.

Stay connected

For some campers, the walk away from the camp drop-off can be a long one. Whether a child is a greenhorn or an expert, homesickness has no age limit. For camping excursions with limited cellphone service or internet availability, plan ahead by packing some pre-stamped and pre-addressed envelopes. The envelopes can help motivate campers to write home about their experiences, especially after a long day of new experiences and meeting new people.

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