Getting Ready For A Green River Preserve Summer

By Anne Mead

It’s time to dust off the trunk and start packing for camp. For some, you might be thinking, really, pack now? The reality is camp will be here before you know it.

As a child, March was continually the mile marker for me to begin preparations for camp and always the “Best Summer of my Life.” There was, after all, no place like camp. Packing my trunk was an annual tradition for me and it made going away to camp that much more fun. So, sit back and relax with a tall glass of bug juice while I share a few tips and tricks to help you and your child get ready for camp.

1. It’s Never to Early to Start Packing
Have you checked out the parent handbook and the packing list for your child’s session? I’m sure you have. Taping the packing list to the inside of my trunk was one of my favorite things to do. It was empowering to help my Mom prepare me for camp and check items off the list as we organized my gear. When I was at camp by myself, the list was helpful to know what items were in my trunk and also to repack to go home.

Remember, when you drop your camper off at GRP, they will be responsible for getting themselves ready for the day. This includes getting dressed, packing their backpack, and drying their shoes. Letting them help prepare their gear in advance will only enhance this experience.

2. Recycle, Reuse, Re-purpose
In other words, pack old clothes and used gear. Your children will be playing outside 85% of the day at GRP – playing under waterfalls, gazing at stars, and tasting the Earth. Who wants to get upset about ruining new clothes while having fun at camp?

Use what you have and borrow from other family members if needed. The clothing list is extensive, but it’s not anything out of the ordinary. If you are going to focus on anything in particular, make sure they have warm sleeping gear and a couple of pairs of sneakers for hiking and running around (a couple = at least 2, in case one pair gets wet). Otherwise, some
T-shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear should cover it. Quick-dry clothes are great – it does rain at summer camp.

3. Is this Mine? LABEL, LABEL, LABEL EVERYTHING!
Every day this winter when I pick up my children from school, I search the drying rack for their snow pants, gloves, clothes, socks, and anything else that came to school with them that day. With at least 3 feet of snow on the playground, they get wet daily making snow tunnels and forts. As a parent, I feel like I am digging through a Goodwill box of black snow gear daily. Why is the majority of snow gear black? I do not know. Why do I make myself crazy looking for our items each day?

In January, I got smart. I took a silver and gold sharpie and wrote our name on absolutely everything. I can’t say that I am still not frustrated searching for our items, but at least I can identify them a bit quicker. And my children are able to start recognizing their things because of the “cool” gold and silver on their clothing. They, too, can start helping me gather their items.

Your child will be living with at least six other campers and two counselors in a small living space. Clothes and gear will get mixed up. It’s a fact. Labeling anything you own will at least give your child the advantage of having it in their trunk by the end of the session. Also, if an item ends up in the lost and found, it is much more likely to be returned to its owner if it is labeled.

4. Practice Makes Progress, Right?
As parents, one of our major goals is to raise good, decision-making adults. Camp is one of the best places for your child to practice these life skills. Once you leave, they will be managing their gear and their personal hygiene (with, of course, some overseeing from counselors). Ultimately, you want them to do this on their own. Think how awesome your child will feel about themselves after doing this for 1, 2, or 3 weeks.

If they need help preparing for this independence, do it now. Have them participate in family chores (we do “cabin clean-up” daily!), and be responsible for daily items in their backpack, like a full water bottle.

5. Bug Spray and Sunscreen
It happens – the sun is out each day and the bugs might bite. Camp has an ample supply of bug spray and sunscreen, but it’s always helpful if your child has some, as well. The Mentors and counselors will remind them to put it on, but ultimately this is one of those independent life skills we hope your child will practice while at GRP. They might come home with a few more bites or a bit more sun. Remember, we are outside 85% of the time.

6. Homesickness?
It might happen. It is another life skill and I promise our staff will help and comfort your child, but please, don’t set them up for failure. Do not make any promises that you will come get them if they are not having a good time. This only opens a window for your child to leave, and it is hard to close it if you have made this promise.

7. What are all those Forms?
Forms, forms, forms. Filling out your child’s forms ahead of time is critical. It will make your drop off smoother and our preparation for your child complete. It is so helpful to have everything in order before your arrival. Please make sure you do it. Thank you.

8. Communication
Mail time is exciting at camp. Make sure you plan to send your child at least one letter, if not a few, while he or she is away. Letter writing is not something children today see or do often. It is a really cool skill. Talk to them about this form of communication and how you will “speak” with them while they are away. We have postcards and writing supplies in the camp store, but go ahead and get these items with your child beforehand. This will help them get excited about keeping in touch with you.

A note about letter writing: keep it positive and steer clear of talking about things they are missing while they are away from home. The last thing you want to do is send your child into a homesick spell.

Do you know we post pictures almost daily and write blogs frequently throughout the camp sessions? This is our way of communicating with our camp families while your child is in our hands. We do our best to capture every child throughout the summer, and show you what camp is like each day. You are always welcome to call or email if you need anything, but also find comfort in our saying: “No News is Good News.” Your child is in good hands and having the time of their lives.