Be prepared to lose everything you send to camp except your
"Where are my shoes?" "I can't find my bathing suit, help me
look." Sigh, just another typical day for a summer camp counselor.
Digging through overstuffed duffel bags, suitcases that are bigger
than the campers who brought them and travel trunks closely
resembling small coffins. While the bathing suit and gym shoes
continue to evade your child's counselor inside the
15-foot-by-20-foot cabin, the camper has no trouble finding his
iPod, candy and flashlight (especially after the lights are out at
night). In the end, the camper is late for the swimming lesson,
gets mad when the iPod ends up broken or lost and the cabin becomes
infested by mice loving that sweet candy.
So what can you, the parents, do to save your child's camp
experience and the counselor's sanity? Be prepared to lose anything
you send to camp, except your child. A counselor's responsibility
starts and ends with his or her campers. When you have 10 children
to look after you can't always spend time looking for a towel or a
bathing suit that was lost. The answer: Pack smart. It's's just as
important to know what not to pack as it is to pack what's needed.
Children need an extra bathing suit, not a cell phone; a water
bottle, not a bottle of aspirin. Here are some tips to help send
your child better prepared than the average camper.
Campers aren't going to look at the pile of dirty socks in the
middle of the room to see which ones have their name on them.
Counselors aren't all heartless teenagers. We know when certain
things just have to be found. I once put the most effort into
finding a camper's retainer. Classic story--took it out at
breakfast, put it in a napkin, forgot, and it was cleaned up with
the tables. Well, the camper and I pulled on some latex gloves and
dug through all of the breakfast trash. After a while he pulled out
a napkin and excitedly said, "I found it!" To which I replied, "Are
you serious!?" He had found it and after it was washed in the
camp's sanitizer, it was safely returned to his mouth.
Follow these tips and you'll be able to send your child off
prepared for everything. Then, when you pick your child up from
camp, the only thing that will matter is the smile on his or her
face. The duffel bag will be a mess, it's a given. It might drip
water as you carry it to the car and you'll smell things that you
may never have smelled before. You'll also have a child who is
begging you to sign up for camp next summer.
Graham is the digital editor for ChicagoParent.com
See more of Graham's stories here.
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