Sleep-away Camp Tips

american camp associationIf sleep-away camp is on your radar, here are some great tips for preparing your kids to pack the trunk and hit the road.

First, for those in prep mode, here are some ideas from my national wire column:

Sleep-away camp is a great experience for many kids and parents. New experiences, adventures outdoors (or at the camp mess hall) await. Kids miss parents; parents miss kids; but great memories are formed.

With the economy in a slump, camps are definitely feeling the crunch. If you haven’t yet signed up for camp, you may still have a great chance at a spot, and possibly at a reduced rate if camps are looking to fill empty spots. Some camps also offer scholarships or paid counselor spots for older kids, so explore your options, and be creative!

Here are some quick tips for parents as you prepare your kid to get away:

1. Planning and preparation will help make the experience less anxious for kids and mom. Prepare a few weeks in advance to avoid the last minute crunch. Make a list of supplies and clothing you’ll need; count what you have; and make a shopping list for what you still need. We have a free camp packing list that you can adapt at our website.

2. Label everything! You can use a Sharpie pen or order iron on tags, but label clearly, and you’re more likely to get most of your stuff back! (After yesterday’s trip to Target, I can add that a Silver Sharpie is a good one for your collection to label dark items).

3. Send a clipboard or hard writing surface. Rest period is a great time to write letters, but trying to write Mom on a mushy mattress is no fun. Send something your child can easily lean on to write lots of letters!

4. Start a “letter stash.” You’ll want to write frequently, but you don’t want to fall behind while they’re away because you get busy at work or home. Start pulling cute comics; sports pages; fun cards; kiddie magazines; etc., and put them in a drawer to create a “mailing inventory” in advance.

5. Create a mail supply box. Gather pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes; pens; a list of family & friends’ addresses. Put it all in a waterproof plastic shoe box that closes tight so your child’s supplies are organized in one safe place.

6. Make your own stationery. It’s easy & fun to create your own on the computer. This may even be a great activity for your child to do while you’re busy or at work. For younger kids, include lines to make the scribble easier to read! Free stationery template is on our site.

Finally, plan some time for FUN! I like to have “Camp Mom” the week before any sleep-away camp. That way, we get as much quality time together as possible before we separate. Make a list of fun local activities you can enjoy together before your child leaves for camp, and then go for it!

When you send your kids to camp, consider sending them some homemade stationery (you can use our template or make your own) in your next care package – something to send, and may increase letters home! Also, check out more Camp Tips including a free packing list and “Stay in Touch With Your Camper,” that has tons of tips on how to stay in touch and how to create a questionnaire if your camper isn’t sending loads of information your way.


Categories Camp Tips, Kid Fun | Tags: , , , , , ,

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10 Comments to Sleep-away Camp Tips

  1. by Nicole

    On June 10, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I make my kids personalized crossword puzzles at They love them!
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    On October 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

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  6. by outdoor

    On November 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Can you provide more information on this? take care

  7. by Amy Smith

    On November 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for your note! What kind of info. are you looking for? I have some links to camp resources in some of the camp articles. There are lots of specific tips and articles on camp you may find useful – here’s the direct link –

  8. by Żaluzje fasadowe

    On November 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

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  9. by Bernard Uglum

    On April 9, 2013 at 11:42 pm

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  10. by Bob

    On June 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Playing “Camp Mom” with your kid is a HORRIBLE idea. You should let your kids come to you for comfort. Otherwise, your planning and preparations are great.

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