Sleep-away Camp is No Reason to Get Tents

My kids have always been independent and were ready to take off for sleep-away camp and not look back from the first summer they were old enough. After many seasons of packing for these expeditions, I’ve learned a few valuable tips I’d like to pass along.


  • Don’t bother packing tons of cute, coordinated outfits – your kid is going to live in about two outfits the entire time s/he is at camp. You’re not there to make them wear clean clothes every day, and most of the other kids are doing the same thing, so no one notices the smell!
  • On a related note, don’t bother packing a laundry bag. It will never get unfolded, let alone used. The wet towels, dripping bathing suit, muddy socks, and the one alternate outfit they wore all week will get tossed in with the six clean outfits you packed in the suitcase (which remained packed in the suitcase all week).
  • They will likely not shower either. You can rest assured there are enough pool days and dips in the lake to keep them relatively clean.
  • No matter how cute the stationary you send with them is, don’t expect letters, postcards, or journals. In fact, if you get a letter, chances are it’s full of complaints. If you go through the week(s) without hearing from your children, feel good about the fact that they are too busy having a great time to write to you about it.

Another handy tip is pack magazines for your kids to read while they are at camp. Magazines are great for sleep away camp because they are light-weight and disposable. Perfect reading for the trip to camp, while in the bunk, or around the campfire. Plus, magazines are easy to share and pass around – a great way to make new friends. Best of all, when your kids are done with the issue, they can just throw them away, which is so much better than hauling home a pile of heavy books (which will end up smelling like dirty, wet towels by the time you unpack). You can even order back issues of your child’s favorite magazine to make sure they have plenty of reading material for those quiet (ha ha) hours.


Besides back issues, here are some other camping-related reading materials that may be perfect for first time campers or their left-behind younger siblings:


Robert Goes to Camp is great story to help kids discover what to expect at camp by hearing from a favorite character.


Your kids are guaranteed to have at least one night under the stars. Give your child Stargazing with Jack Horkheimer to help them learn the constellations and fascinating astronomy facts to share with his/her new friends.


Ladybug has an issue focusing on camping that is a perfect way (along with a tent in the back yard) to introduce younger kids to the concept.


Cricket Media Mama is sure her children’s clothes reproduce while in the suitcase. How else does one week of clothes result in three weeks of laundry?