Ok, Smarties! Let’s face it. May has been an absolute whirlwind of awards ceremonies, tournaments, class parties and school performances. Who has time to think about summer camp? But, Smarties, it will be here before you know it! If you’re not prepared, don’t despair. Smarty Pants is here to help, with our Top 5 Tips for Packing for Sleep Away Camp, sponsored by our friends at Camp Highlander, a co-ed sleep away camp for ages 5 to 16, located just 2 hours away in the beautiful NC mountains, near Asheville.
Smarty Tip #1: Happy feet make a Happy Camper
Your kids will be a lot happier (and safer) if their feet are dry and protected. Be sure to pack lots of socks, at least 3 more pairs than the actual number of days at camp. Camps have so many opportunities for adventure, whether it’s horseback riding, creek hikes or scavenger hunts. And, regardless of the activity level of your camper, kids will spend most of their days outdoors. And you know what that means…sweat!
Alternatively, if your kids prefer sandals over gym shoes, look for the tough all terrain variety that have a back ankle strap. Most camps do not allow crocs, flip flops or slides as they do not adequately protect the foot, nor do they allow for running and other boisterous activities.
Smarty Tip #2: Leave the electronics, games and iPods at home
Sleep Away Camp is a time to get your child outdoors, playing and enjoying this beautiful world around them. So leave those tablets and Game Boys at home! Camp counselors keep kids engaged in activities morning, noon and night. You’ll want your child making friends, talking, laughing and enjoying their time without the distractions of technology. So get unplugged and get outdoors!
Smarty Tip #3: Pack for ALL weather contingencies
Just because it’s hot and steamy here in Charlotte doesn’t mean it’s like that up in the mountains. Nights get cool, and sometimes the weather can shift mid-session, so help your child be prepared. We know it’s a pain, but yes! Pay attention to your camp’s packing list, and don’t skimp on those sweatshirts, rain ponchos, extra towels and swim trunks (because things don’t dry if it rains a lot!).
Smarty Tip # 4: Bring the right bedding for your camp
Camps will tell you what bedding is supplied, and what is not. Usually, your child will need his or her own sheets, blanket and pillow. And don’t forget the sleeping bag! Even if your child is routinely sleeping in a cabin with modern bathroom facilities, like Camp Highlander, there could be some opportunities for overnight camping. Some camps even give parents the option of pre-ordering a bedding bundle, so it reduces the bulk in the trunk or suitcase (which is especially important for kids who travel by air to camp!).
Smarty Tip #5: Special Themed Camp Attire
Sleep Away camps usually have one or more specially-themed events per week. The camp may have talent nights, square dances or July 4th parties. Of course, if your kids have been to the camp before, they may be “all over it” and know exactly what they want to bring. However, if this is your child’s first sleep away camp experience, now’s the time to talk with your kids and help “get them in the act” regarding what costumes and goofy accessories they want to bring for special camp events. They’ll have a blast, and won’t feel left out!
And that reminds us…
Bonus Smarty Tip: Connect with your child…from a distance
Of course, your child won’t make new friends and get over that ubiquitous pang of homesickness if you’re trying to call or drop-in. But don’t forget to get some cards in the mail just prior to your child’s departure. And keep up some correspondence every few days. Your child will be thrilled to get some mail and read your encouraging words. Be sure to check on your child’s care package policies. Most camps do not allow care packages. Sending a note or email every few days will help your child know that they are loved and not forgotten…even if they don’t lift a pencil to write YOU a note in 3 weeks! Don’t be offended. Just know, it’s all par for the course, on the road to independence.
Sleep Away Camps provide a wonderful opportunity for adventure, independence and friendship. While they are out of budget for many families, convenient payment plans are available, so plan early. And for Charlotteans, we are fortunate to have camps on the coast and camps, like Camp Highlander, in the (cooler! ) mountains of North Carolina. People from all over the country drive and fly their children into the state to experience the beauty and the fun, which is right on our doorstep. So get packin’!
Wishing your child was signed up? Contact Camp Highlander at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-891-7721 to find out about last-minute openings for 1, 2 or 3-week sessions for Junior Camp (ages 5-10), Intermediate Camp (ages 10-13) or Senior Camp (ages 13-16). Your child will have memories to last a lifetime!