Parent Handbook Helper: Packing
All of us that get to work for Camp Chippewa in the off–season are starting to get the summer camp itch. The days are getting warmer, the sun is shining longer, and—dare I say it—we’re ready to trade snowbanks for mosquitoes! For this month’s Handbook Helper we’ll be deep-diving into your son’s packing list to make sure he has everything he needs for a Minnesota summer adventure!
Luggage and Tags
Your son will need to be packed in no more than 2 pieces of soft-sided luggage, either a roller bags or duffle bags. Due to the limited space in the cabins, we can’t allow trunks and hard-sided suitcases. These luggage pieces will need to be labelled with you son’s name as well as have the blue luggage tags—provided by Camp Chippewa—attached to them as well. These blue tags will be mailed out to you in May!
As previously touched on in the Travel Handbook Helper, it is possible for you to ship your son’s luggage directly to camp. Please take a look at the Parent Handbook for more details.
Why send 3 blankets?
Even though we hold camp in the summer months, Minnesota weather isn’t always as “summery” as we’d like it to be. Having three blankets for your camper will help keep him warm when the evening temperatures get chilly. The three blankets are also used in making beds during daily inspection—a part of camp’s tradition. One blanket over the whole bed, one folded and neatly tucked in at the foot, and the third folded and tucked over the pillow to keep it free from dust, sand, and dirt.
Why no spray sunscreen and bug repellant?
The easy-application of spray sunscreen and bug repellant is very attractive, but we ask that you please not send these to camp with your son. The spray encourages over-usage, and overspray of these products can damage rain gear and other nylon material. We recommend bug repellant lotion and sunscreen sticks, which are easy to apply and mess-free. It will also help a great deal if you can spend some time showing your son how to apply these products. A little goes a long way, particularly with the bug repellant lotion.
Why the special biodegradable soaps?
On top of daily lake time, every Sunday morning, we have a mandatory “soap dip” where the boys wash up in the lake before attending a traditional chapel talk with the whole camp community. Because the boys dip in the lake, we want to make sure the soaps used are not going to harm our ecosystem. We recommend Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, CampSuds, and WilderWash, but any biodegradable soap will do! Just be sure it’s free of phosphate and other “anti-bacterial” ingredients. We want to keep our campers and our local ecosystem clean!
This may be a no-brainer, but make sure to pack all toiletries in a way to keep them from spilling. And label everything!
Why label everything?
While we promote all campers be responsible with their belongings, many things get misplaced throughout the summer. Hats, beach towels, socks and sweatshirts are the most common suspects that accumulate in our Lost and Found box waiting to be reclaimed. Having everything labelled with the camper’s initials or last name is very helpful to us and your son who doesn’t seem to recognize his clothing when it’s held up for all to see! Plus, lost and found isn’t the only reason labelled belongings are required. Our weekly laundry service is done by cabin, which means the laundry from the whole cabin group is put together in one bag. Having everything labelled from t-shirts to underwear makes distributing and putting away clean laundry much easier for everyone involved!
Please make sure to label bigger items as well, like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and bedding.
Labeling clothing and gear can be as simple as handwriting your son’s last name or initials with a Sharpie or laundry marker. Some parents prefer to order personalized labels online (namebubbles.com, mabelslabels.com, stickymonkeylabels.com and amazon.com, to name a few). For your convenience, you can order Oliver’s Labels right in your CampInTouch account. When applying personalized labels to clothing or gear, please place them where it’s easy for us to find the label.
Rain Gear and Footwear:
All campers need to have rain gear—both a rain jacket and a pair of rain pants—no ponchos! Ponchos do not perform well during camp activities and trips. They rip easily and won’t keep the wearer dry when active.
Shoes are also very important! Having sandals for swim class, closed-toe shoes for around camp, water-resistant hiking boots for canoe trips, and sneakers for activities like soccer and tennis will make your son’s experience at camp much more enjoyable. If your son will be going on a Canadian trip, there’s extra information regarding footwear on the Canadian-specific packing list, along with the Canadian equipment buying guide in your CampInTouch account.
Secure Storage Items:
Your son will be in a screen-free environment while at camp. But if he has a long flight or bus ride to camp, he is welcome to have small electronic devices with him. However, please make sure they are small devices. Do not send items like:
- Large over-ear headphones (small earbuds are okay!)
- Nintendo Switch
These devices take up too much space and make it difficult to organize items within our secure storage. We’d encourage you to send activities that don’t require secure storage like books, or a small game to play with other campers! Some of my favorite small games include:
- Sushi Go!
- Monopoly Deal
- Tiny Epic Galaxies
- Exploding Kittens
- Hive (pocket edition!)
- A classic deck of 52 cards. Endless game possibilities! (However, I definitely do not condone 52 Pick-Up on a bus or airplane… )
If your son will be travelling with snacks and/or cash for food to help tide him over on his long travel day, please limit the amount he brings. Snacks and cash also need to fit in our secure storage to keep them safe and away from hungry critters (be them campers or otherwise)!
Pack with your son before he comes to camp. This will help make sure he’s familiar with everything he’s bringing. To be extra thorough, make your own packing list! This can be a more detailed list of what your son is bringing, like exactly how many long sleeve shirts, and what they look like.
If you’re able to spare the space, try using a guest bedroom or room corner as a “staging area” to help with packing.
After you’ve tackled packing the big luggage, make sure to pack one change of clothes and a swimsuit in your son’s carry-on. This way if his checked luggage gets delayed, he’ll still be ready with the bare minimums for the first day of activities at camp.