Opening day is 10 days away and this will be my 7th year packing my kids for Camp. I remember my first year, oh was I a mess. “I don’t know where to start”, I cried to my veteran camp-packing friend. She just laughed and said, “go to Target and get it done.” Six years later, I feel like a camp packing pro, but I have two teens, so I don’t do anything quite right. Teen challenge aside, I really do know a thing or two about packing for Camp and so do many other Mom-Pros.
The first step is to review your Camp Packing Checklist.
Next, go through your camper’s clothes. See what they have, what fits and what they need.
Now, Check out these great tips.
5 Packing Tips from Mom-Pros
1. Embrace the Ziplock
I’ve got to be honest, I used to ziplock everything. I use ziplock bags as a protection device as well as an organizing tool. When my kids were little, I ziplocked each outfit separately and wrote the day on the bag. As they got older, I put stationery, stamps, pens and all things for writing letters in a ziplock. I’ve learned the hard way that things leak, so all toiletries go in ziplock bags. I also put batteries in a ziplock and anything I don’t want to get wet or damp because kids love throwing damp towels in and on their duffle. This year, my daughter packed all her Shabbat clothes in a medium-sized Ziplock “Big Bag”.
“Since our kids fly, we have to make sure everything fits into the two duffels and carry-ons. I pack all clothing items in the largest Ziplocks and squish the air out of them so they collapse. I split the kid’s items between the two bags so each bag has half of everything (shirts, underwear, towels, etc…), that way if a bag is lost, they still have some of everything… but the Ziplocks are an amazing thing… the kids use the bags all summer for wet clothes, or to keep stuff separated in their cubbies.” -Suzanne Fine, long-time packing Mom-Pro
“When Allie was going to Garanim & Nitzonim I would put entire outfits in Ziplock bags and label them (Fri. night, Sat. morning, etc.) She could not match and I was afraid she wouldn’t have anything to wear for Shabbat because it would all be dirty.” -Carrie Bielski, dedicated camper Mom of two and Camp Ramah Darom Nurse
“The ziplock flexible totes are perfect for sheets, towels, etc.” -Lisa Hutt Dessler, fourth-year Camper Mom of two
On the other hand, some Moms are a bit more practical about the whole camp experience. “You don’t need to put “outfits” in individual ziplock bags.. after the first wash, it won’t matter and so what if they don’t match.. its Camp,” -Elissa Vessal, Mom of two campers who she’s packed all the way through Ramah Darom
2. Label Everything
“Label it” was the #1 piece of advice from all packing Mom-Pros I asked. I personally love Sharpie markers but there are some great labels that do not require ironing. I started using Lil’ Labels a couple of years ago. There is nothing fancy about them, but they are so easy to use and they are not expensive. If you choose to go with the Sharpie, try using silver for dark-colored items. Here’s what others said:
“If you ever want to see it again, write full name or last name first initial. Label water bottles and put scotch tape over the writing so it doesn’t get washed or rubbed off.”-Carrie
“Even if you don’t care if you ever see it again, label everything. Everyone’s socks, underwear, towels, socks, water bottles, etc look exactly the same. And if yours isn’t labeled, your kid has no idea if it’s theirs.” -Carla Birnbaum, fourth-year Camper Mom of two and Rosh Gan at Ramah Darom
“Order the stick on circle name tags. So easy!” -Jenny Denny, six-year camp packer for her two daughters
“My kids used a sharpie for underwear and socks, not worth using a label, but I also love Label Daddy and they always have sales and coupons.” – Sam Dressler, long-time Camper Mom of two and Ramah Darom Board Member
“And, don’t forget to put names on/in shoes and flip flops.“-Johanna Norry, packing her kids for Camp Ramah Darom for 11 consecutive years
3. Pack Extra & Get Colorful
This piece of advice does not apply to me personally. In my experience, my son doesn’t wear a quarter of the clothing I pack, my daughter prefers to wear other people’s clothing and the only things my kids lose are water bottles. I pack the exact amount of underwear and socks recommended on the packing list and that has worked just fine for my kids. Other Mom-pros have had different experiences and choose to pack extra. There is no right and no wrong. Every parent and camper is different.
“It might say pack one water bottle, but I say go for two. My kids lose everything and based on the water bottle collection in the lost & found pile, they are not alone. Also, pack extra underwear (at least 10 extra pairs), socks (again 10 extra), extra T-shirts and shorts. At Ramah Darom, they shower every night (sometimes before dinner) and a lot of the younger kids go through two pairs of underwear a day. -Carla
When it comes to towels, I usually pack the torn, wholly kind. I grab whatever looks rattiest or the ones that still have my kid’s names sharpied on from last summer. Camp is not a place for nice things, but many parents choose to not mortify their kids with nasty looking towels and get colorful.
“Don’t send beige (or other neutral colored) towels— they all look the same! Buy a couple of Target towels in a unique color – kids will always know which ones are theirs!” -Emily Garmon, entering her fourth summer as a camp packing Mom-pro
4. Let Them Pack
When my son was in elementary school he went to a seven-day Boy Scout Camp. There was a family dinner/visiting night on day five. When I arrived, my son told me that I forgot to pack him a deodorant. Now, that wouldn’t have been so terrible, but the deodorant was in the same bag as the toothbrush and toothpaste. Gross! Now, my 13-year-old daughter packs herself, but my son (now 15), still gets a lot of help from Mom.
“Have your camper help you pack their luggage. Otherwise, they might not know about all the fun things you’ve bought them (including what their shampoo and conditioner looks like or those cool new pajamas).”-Carla
5. Include Some “Optional” Items
Does your camper love to read, play cards or fidget with a Rubrics Cube? Pack it. Small games are great for downtime at Camp. If you want to help your camper organize all the little things you send, pack a shoe organizer that hangs over the bunk bed. There are many styles and types online, from fancy to simple, but all it really needs to do is hang on the bunk bed and store little things. I chose cheap and simple, a pack of two clear shoe bags, so they could see what’s inside. My kids actually hang these bags inside their closet doors and use them all year round. There are also smaller-sized shoe organizers like this beige two pack.
“For younger kids, label the shoe bag compartments so they can stay organized. Another cool item is a plastic hook to hang your towel on the side of your bed.” -Shira Schwartz, Mom of three camp-loving kids
Small games, markers, sticky notes, stickers for younger kids or a deck of cards (don’t forget to label them)
Want more packing advice? Read Packing Dos, Don’ts & Duhs by Amanda Marks.
Now, breathe deep, grab your list, review the clothing rules below and get started. You’ve got this!
You can view and download the Rules for Clothing at Camp from the Parent/Guardian Handbook or read below.
At Camp, campers and staff dress in a way that demonstrates respect for the community and our educational environment. Clothing should be tasteful and modest. Camp is not a place to test out the latest extreme fashion trends. Dress at Camp is for comfort and activity, not for show.
What NOT to Wear: The following are NOT permitted at Camp:
- Low-cut shirts
- Shirts with inappropriate words, phrases or symbols
- Short skirts
- “Low rider” pants
- See-through clothing
- Exposed midriffs
- Exposed bra straps
- Exposed underwear
- Bikini or Speedo-style swimsuits
All Campers and Staff must wear bathing suits that reflect our modesty standards, such as:
One-piece or tankini-style suite that completely covers the midriff
- Board shorts or boxer-style swim trunks
- Rash-guard/swim shirts
Shabbat is a very special time of the week. Our guideline for tasteful dress is not fancy – we discourage elaborate, expensive outfits and encourage simplicity. NOTE: Jeans are not appropriate for Shabbat and all Shabbat tops must have sleeves (short or long.)
The following is appropriate for Shabbat:
- Collared shirt (polo or button-down)
- Skirt and blouse or a dress with sleeves
- Khaki pants or similar trousers
- Shorts are acceptable on Saturday, but not on Friday night
All males are required, and Females are encouraged, to wear a Kippah at mealtimes and during Tifillah (Prayer). PLEASE MAKE SURE ALL KIPPOT ARE LABELED. We encourage campers to carry a kippah with them in their bag throughout the day.
Tefillin & Tallit
All males of Bar Mitzvah age are required to wear Tefillin; females of Bat Mitzvah age are encouraged to wear Tefillin, but are not required to do so. If your child is of Bar Mitzvah age son dos not have Tefillin, please acquire a set for him. PLEASE MAKE SURE ALL TALLIT, TALLIT BAGS AND TEFILLIN BAGS ARE LABELED. (A clear plastic zippered pouch labeled with the camper’s name is helpful to keep these items protected and together.)
Labeling Clothes & Belongings
It is imperative that everything coming to Camp is labeled with your child’s name. If you would like to purchase labels, we recommend bestnametape.com or labeldaddy.com. Note: Sharpies work just fine too!
We do our best to protect your child’s belongings and we ask that you discuss with your child the importance of being responsible for his/her belongings.
Please pre-wash all of your child’s clothing prior to Camp. In addition, be sure that all clothing you send to Camp is colorfast. Laundry will be sent out once a week and will come back one day after it has been sent. Please send your child to Camp with two laundry bags, with name labels attached. Campers should not plan on washing their own clothes.
What NOT to Bring to Camp
- Any electronic devices that can connect to the Internet, including televisions, computers, iPod Touch, iPads
and other tablets, eReaders, portable game systems or other similar equipment
- Other electronics, including DVD players, televisions, video cameras, walkie-talkies, etc.
- Guns or knives (toy or real) of any kind
- Laser Pointers
- Alcohol or Tobacco
- E-cigarettes of any kind, including Juul devices
- Illegal substances or related paraphernalia, including but not limited to marijuana in any form
Ramah Darom assumes no responsibility either for wear and tear, loss or damage to a camper’s clothing or other personal items.