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Last Minute Camp Preparations

You see other parents at school pick-up or events with eyes glassed over, sharpie pen all over their hands, a band-aid where they stuck themselves with a sewing needle, a nametape sticker stuck to their face— you know they are also furiously packing camp trunks.

The salesperson at the local kids’ clothing store knows your entire life story. Your dining room is filled with athletic equipment. Your daughter’s wardrobe is strewn across the dining room table. You realize that your son does not have enough socks, and you are desperately trying to figure out if the online order you just placed will come in time to shove it into the trunks. Perhaps if you purchase black socks they will be usable after camp? You feel as if you have been preparing for the last four months to send your children to camp for four or seven weeks.

You remind yourself to fill out last-minute forms, send in spending money, find that parent information packet, write the first letter and mail it before they go. Why are the kids still getting homework? How could there possibly be another school concert or event to attend?

The kids are getting excited…. and anxious. You are also getting excited…. and anxious. Is that challenging kid coming back? Will he be in your son’s bunk? Will they eat? Will they have nice friends, enjoy their activities? Will they write? Don’t make them write often. Kids have to stop and think about home when they write, and this very act can make kids homesick. Let them write if they want— do not force it. Wouldn’t you rather think about your child playing ping pong, jacks, or doing Mad Libs with their friends, rather than sitting alone on his/her bed writing to you?

You should not overdo it on the writing either. They like getting letters, but too many letters from home could upset them. You want your child to live in the here and now, to enjoy camp as much as possible while they are there, not constantly remind them of home.

The things that seem very important when you pack will most likely make no difference in your child’s summer. Those adorable flip flops or slippers may not even be worn. The extra bottle of shampoo you ran out to get will most likely not even be opened. Hopefully, they will use the sunscreen. One visiting day, another mother told me that she was horrified that her son’s bottle of soap was unused. He explained that he used the shampoo as soap. She was not thrilled but somewhat mollified, until she realized that his toothpaste was also unused….

So, as you are busy preparing and worrying and stressing and packing, try to breathe deeply, relax, and know that before you know it, both your children (and their trunks) will be at camp. And the summer will go by very quickly.

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