How Early Do I Have to Start Packing for Camp?

We often get asked how early you need to start packing for camp. There’s no simple answer to this question, because things like your personality, your location and how long the camp session is are all factors. But we generally do recommend getting started early, at least with collecting the items you need.

While it may be too early in the season to have an open trunk on your kid’s bed, you don’t want to wait till the last minute to go through the camp packing list and determine what you need. Here’s how we recommend you go about it:

Read the Camp Packing List

The first step is to read the camp packing list and mark off everything you already own. Don’t forget to check that you have the right amount of each item (your child will need a lot of underwear and socks, for instance). Check the quality of the items that you own, so you don’t send your son to camp with socks which have lost their elastic or shirts which have faded so much he’ll be embarrassed to wear them. Also, make sure that clothes fit. A pair of pants from last summer may well be too short this year and a jacket your older daughter wore two summers ago may still be humungous on her younger sister.

Make a List of What’s Missing

We recommend making a separate list of what’s missing so you can easily keep track of what needs to be purchased and what you have already bought. If you shop in brick and mortar stores, you may need several trips to a bunch of different stores, so keep the list handy at all times. That way, if you have an unexpected half hour free, you can collect another few items on the list.

A simpler way to buy what you’re missing is, of course, to order online from our one-stop-shop. You order with just a few clicks and in 10 business days, it is all delivered directly to your door. (Three-day rush orders are also available.)

Purchase a Trunk

While it’s true that you can send your daughter to camp with an old suitcase you used on your honeymoon 20 years ago, this is both inconvenient and a source of embarrassment for your poor kid. A soft trunk on wheels is a much better choice. We offer sizes for air travel and for transport by car. These trunks come in a bunch of fun colors and can be stored easily at camp until they are needed again on the way home.

Label Everything

Clothing and other items can easily get lost in camp - in the laundry, lying around the bunk or at the swimming pool. That’s why camps require that you label everything your child is bringing. Labels come in a number of variations these days, including sew-on, iron-on and stickers. There’s no need to write your own labels; they come already printed with your child’s name and all you have to do is attach them.

Start Packing

As soon as you have the trunk, you can start packing. Place brand-new items directly in the trunk, as soon as you have labelled them. Don’t use anything new if you don’t have to. You don’t want to risk ruining or losing anything before your kid even gets to camp.

A few days before camp, do as much laundry as possible, so you have everything you need available. Pack it all up and then check and re-check your list. But don’t stress about it too much, because if something is missing, you can send it later directly to camp.

Zip It Up

We recommend not closing your trunk till the very last minute. Although a closed trunk can always be opened if necessary, when you leave the trunk open, you are still in packing mindset. It’s easier to walk by and drop something in. Consider throwing in a short note to your child, telling them that you love them and will miss them, but know for sure that they will have a wonderful summer.

When it’s time to go or send the trunk ahead, zip it up and put your feet up. Get yourself a large cup of coffee (or wine…) and relax secure in the knowledge that you don’t have to do any more packing… at least until next summer!

About the author 

Hadassah Levy is the VP of Marketing for Pack for Camp. She attended sleepaway camp for a number of years and wishes she could have gone for longer. She has also sent her children to various camps, and knows first-hand how stressful packing for camp can be and how essential it is to make this process more efficient and streamlined.

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