There’s a Label for That: Summer Camp Checklist

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As a kid, I remember the excitement of the last days of the school year and the beginning of summer! I couldn’t wait for homework-free evenings, ice cream and days spent at the pool. As a parent, I feel the need to find a balance between making those summer memories and providing activities to keep their minds and bodies stimulated. Like many children, my daughter just started summer camp. Besides reserving her spot for each summer session, it’s a tight turnaround to get everything prepped and ready to go for that first week of June.

Most camps, regardless of the type, will provide you with a checklist for your child. But no matter what’s on the list, the most important task to remember is to LABEL EVERYTHING! I had no idea how important this was until my first bout with summer camp. They mean label EVERYTHING – even down to the socks and underwear on your child’s body. At first I thought it was a completely unreasonable request, until I saw how many things each kid brings, the shift in staff during the day and the similarity of all the things that we buy.

The first year, I made a rookie mistake and used Sharpie on everything. Well that had to be refreshed regularly after several washes – RUBY turned into R__Y. This year I learned from watching the professional mothers (you know who you are) and ordered labels for clothing and other items that are durable enough to sustain summer camp and laundering. I chose to use Mabel’s Labels this year, but there are many options to choose from online.

If your child will be swimming or in water activities certain days of the week, I recommend buying a swimsuit and towel for each day those activities are planned. My child’s camp happens to include swimming every day, so I decided to buy 5 swimsuits and 5 towels because I didn’t want to fuss with laundry in the middle of the week. It may sound excessive, but she has always made good use of all her swimsuits since it’s very hot here and the pool is one of the few outdoor sources of relief.

In addition, she has a sleeping bag, spare changes of clothes, water shoes, goggles, water bottle, her lunchbox, snacks and her favorite stuffed puppy. So each day, my daughter starts off with her armor of sunscreen and bug spray and her backpack with everything she needs. Even though it’s a lot of planning on the front end, as I pick up my daughter each day; I see her growing more independent and watch those sweet summer memories just beginning to form.

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