NBS: What to Bring to Camp
by Carla Birnbaum
BUY A COUPLE OF BIG CLEAR BINS/YAFFA BLOCKS/CRATES AND FILL THEM WITH THE FOLLOWING ITEMS. THESE ARE NOW YOUR CAMP BINS.
Please remember that our packing list is a guide. None of these items are mandatory, and you can certainly have a perfectly wonderful summer without them. We will also have access to Amazon, Walmart delivery, and other shopping delivery services. However, we do live at the top of a mountain in Clayton, GA and in non-pandemic times, amazon prime takes a few extra days. Also, we are a community. If you forget sunscreen, you can use your neighbors and order a replacement
- Storage. Bring cubes/Yaffa blocks/some type of storage. Even better, pack in them. These will help you stay organized in your room at Camp and while you are getting ready for Camp.
- Your entire bathroom. Just kidding. Well, not really. You will need all your toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, bath and hand towels and a bathmat). You know that special shower puff you love, bring that too. The awesome face wash you can only get from the store in the mall? Make sure you have enough for Camp. Also, toothpaste, mouthwash, bug spray, sunscreen. Bring that too!
- Soap, soap, soap: Hand, dish, and laundry soap. CAMP IS DIRTY. YOU WILL GET DIRTY. Dish soap is fantastic for getting stains out of everything. It gets out mud. It gets out coffee. It gets out sharpie. You can squirt it on a tarp and slide down Gesher Hill! It even cleans your dishes!
- Linens and things: Two sets of sheets and a comforter/blanket. Bring two sets of sheets for each bed you will use. Speaking of beds – before you buy sheets, find out what size beds are in your room. If you don’t know, bring queen sheets. Most beds are queen or full. Amazon basic sheets are awesome and reasonably priced. You’ll need a few towels for each person in the room. The thinner the towel, the faster they dry. It’s humid in the mountains and things do not dry quickly. We all love fluffy fancy bath sheets, but it might take the whole session for those suckers to dry, so the fewer the thread count, the faster the towel will dry. Think $3 towels from Walmart. Roll about 8 of them up, put them in the bin and you’ve got pool, lake and shower towels.
- Let’s talk about your backpack. I have a North Face backpack with back support and a laptop pocket inside, because I carry a lot of things around Camp. While other people walk around Camp with just a water bottle, I walk around Camp prepared for anything. In my backpack, I have the following: A water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlight, playing cards, fidgets, hand sanitizer, extra socks, sharpie, a mini first aid kit, a notebook and likely my laptop and raincoat. Overkill, maybe. But there will be times you are stuck in a rain lockdown with 20 campers, so it’s helpful to have some activities on hand.
- Speaking of rain. It rains a lot at Camp. A lot. Bring a good raincoat, lightweight that can be stuffed or attached to your backpack. Some people bring rain boots, but most people wear sneakers that can dry quickly. Rainboots tend to be a bit of a commitment unless you are going to be close to your room. I prefer the “extra socks in backpack” method. My rain jacket is also oversized so it covers me and my backpack.
- Medication: Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription (Rx) medicine (even if you don’t take your Rx regularly). Count it and make sure you have enough for your stay at Camp. The MARP will have OTC medicine if you need something, but if you are particular about brands/type or have kids in the room with you, it’s better to bring your own. The MARP doesn’t always have infant/toddler or liquid versions of all medicines.
- Shabbat and morning tefillah essentials. Bring your tallit, your tefillin, your kippot (several), and a Shabbat watch (especially if you have an apple watch or Fitbit). Also, bring a Shabbat-friendly board game or two.
- Beverages are important, as are the containers that harness them. You need a few good water bottles for Camp. Most people use the 24/32 oz. stainless steel ones and refill it throughout the day. Shorter is better and easier clean in the sinks in your room. If it’s too tall, it won’t fit under the faucet. If you are a coffee/tea drinker, you’re in luck! There will be a Keurig in your room, but please plan to bring your own pods. Also, bring your own mugs: one to keep in the chadar ochel and one to keep in your room/bring around Camp.
- Snacks, snack and more snacks. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little nosh in your room. Favorites include dried or fresh fruit, granola bars, yogurt or cheese sticks (if you have a fridge or access to one), maybe some junk food. Please do not bring anything with nuts and be sure it has a Kosher Hechsher!
- Your mobile office/art studio. Bring some pens, notepads, paper, fancy markers, post-its, etc. Also, maybe tape and a stapler and some paper clips. Yes, we have office supplies in the business office, but it’s not always convenient to walk there when you need something. Go to the dollar store and stock up. While you are there, grab some construction paper and markers, balloons, and some little things to give your staff or counselors for Shabbat. Think party favors – glowsticks, dumdums, something that says, “Shabbat shalom, you are doing a great job. I appreciate you!”
- Comfortable walking shoes. Some people love their Chacos. Some people love their sneakers. Sneakers get hot and make your feet sweat. Chacos make your feet dirty and get rocks in them. Many campers like the socks with their Chacos method, which is an interesting fashion statement but helps maintain climate and prevents grime. I prefer the “alternate your footwear method,” alternating between Chacos and sneakers. Whatever you decide, bring more than one option. Your shoes will get wet/muddy/torn, so it’s good to have a backup.
- Bring extra. The general packing list includes clothing recommendations. I would also recommend including extra socks, underwear and bathing suits for gan-aged children, as well as extra towels. These kids swim twice a day. They don’t usually have time in their day for bathing suits and towels to completely dry. Please also remember disposable swim diapers for each swim session for those who aren’t potty trained.
- Add in some swag. This one is just for fun, and because we needed to get past the number #13. Shop PackforCamp.com/ramah-darom for super cool logo wear and gear.
What Not to Bring:
- Alexa – you will survive the summer without her. Plus, she likely won’t work at Camp anyway.
- Your own router/hot spot – it screws up our internet and makes everyone angry and grumpy.
- Fancy jewelry/shoes/clothes – it’s not our way. Leave it at home and show off your inner beauty.
- Drugs and alcohol – if you get caught, you’ll be asked to leave. Please don’t put yourself or us in that situation.
About the Author
Carla Birnbaum is thrilled to be a part of the phenomenal camper care team! She holds a BA in Communications from Oglethorpe University and a MA in Jewish Education from Siegel College. Carla currently works at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta within the Community Impact division. Her job includes finding ways to create meaningful communal Jewish engagement within the North Metro Atlanta community. Carla’s work as an educator and curriculum specialist has earned professional accolades including two Solomon Schechter awards for programmatic innovation. Her primary role at Camp for the past five summers was running the Gan (day camper care for staff children) and helping with staff training and development. Having worked with children of all ages throughout her life, Carla loves the way Camp amplifies Jewish identity in a way no other Jewish experience can. She was originally hired by Ramah in 1997 (the summer Darom opened), as tzevet (staff) drama. In her spare time, Carla loves photography, traveling and playing board games with her family. She is also an avid reader. Carla lives in Johns Creek, GA with her husband, Scott, daughters Isabella (13) and Hannah (11), and her rescue dog, Ginger.