Pro packing tips from a first time camp parent!

6.16.17 by

By: Hallie Grodin, Summer 365 Counselor

TGIF and thank god I am finishing up packing just in the nick of time. It’s t-minus 1 day until the camp duffles are picked up!! Despite starting early and the panic setting in, piles and piles of items…the uniform clothing, the sheets, bedding and pillows, the shower and swim towels, the toiletries and so much more… I thought I was going to be so on top of it, but that didn’t happen. Somehow I still have a sense of calm that it will magically get done within the allotted timeframe.

So here are the tips I’ve acquired along the way as a first time camp parent (going to camp for 9 years myself only partially helped me with the job ahead)!



If you like it then you shoulda put a label on it!

We all know you need to label EVERYTHING, but what I quickly learned is you need a LOT of different labeling options. I can still vividly remember my grandmother sitting on our coach with a huge pile of my clothing on one side and my brothers on her other side as she sewed in labels to all our stuff. I have been very thankful for months thinking how lucky we are to not be stuck with that only option anymore. Here is what I am using (or plan to use :)

  • sticky labels (I’ve tried many different companies, my current fave is Label Daddy*).

You need a LOT of labels, different sizes work, I think you need the most of the “extra small clothing labels”

  • name dropper stamp

I’ve heard this lasts longer than just a sharpie…I’m finding it’s great for the clothing that doesn’t have any tag so there is no place to stick the actual label. I think it will be good for underpants too. Note: don’t make the mistake I did, get the black AND white ink. A lot of my son’s clothing is dark clothing which means you won’t see the dark black ink on the clothing, so get the white too.

  • silver sharpie and/or white puffy paint

Dark socks, laundry bags, etc…the silver sharpie or white puffy paint I believe is the way to go. I have heard white puffy paint lasts longer than the silver sharpie, I’ll let you know at the end of the summer!


Camp shopping, there’s an app for that!

There is a great new app a dad started where you can buy your toiletries.  They will label them for you, pack them for shipping and either ship them to you OR directly to your camp if they accept packages. Check them out: Bunk Supplies & Beyond



In camp (packing lists) we trust.

If your camp tells you 4 towels, just send 4 towels, etc. These camps know what they are doing, trust their packing lists. I also keep reminding myself WORST CASE camp knows how to reach me, camp has extra things…if we forget something major we’ll hear about it and it will be remedied.


Get the write stuff.

Letters…so I was a major letter writer as a camper, my brother only when he was absolutely required (i.e. It was not unusual for my parents to get a letter that said “I had to write this to get in to dinner.” And that was it :) SO while I don’t anticipate a lot of mail (one can dream!… it’s also a sign they are having too much fun to write) you can be sure I am going to make it as easy as possible for that potential letter…I am addressing and stamping envelopes and including a list of other addresses just in case. Make it fool proof and dream with me :)


Junk in your trunk.

I panicked early on and started buying little games and nick knacks and then realized it was totally pointless. That’s not what camp is all about, they don’t need it and won’t even have the time for it. A deck of cards? Sure. A fidget spinner? How could you not. But all the other games, I just don’t think it’s necessary – I’m saving one or two for visiting day (stay tuned for our visiting day gift guide) and returning the others!

They keep going and going and going…

Batteries…flash light, fan, etc…a lot of their items need batteries, send a lot of extras! Tape the power buttons in the off position for packing so the flashlight doesn’t stay on the entire time it’s sitting in the duffle!

Good luck with your packing, I know I needed it :)

*this is not an ad for any of these products, just my personal opinion based on my experience and what I’ve heard from others.

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