So the camp ‘buzz’ is in high gear! As a mom of a first time sleep away camper, it’s that time to get my daughter ready with all the gear she needs for 7 fun-filled weeks!!! Doesn’t seem so bad…right? I have been armed with the packing list from her camp (since January). And my daughter is going to a ‘uniform’ camp, so I was thinking no big deal. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Although, getting prepared for camp and the ‘camp outfitter appointment’ can be fun and exciting, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting! Those of you who have been through it can probably commiserate.
So I am here to share some helpful and motherly advice — to make your experience as stress free (and dare I say fun) as possible. For those of you about to embark on this for the first-time, here are my tips:
Be Prepared, Be Organized! I think as a mother this goes without saying. But it is especially important going into your camp outfitter appointment.
Make sure you have your camp’s packing list with you and that you have marked off what you already have – as well as what you may want to purchase at a less-expensive, “big-box” type of store. Remember, many items never make it back from camp. Socks, towels and bathing suits are prone to mysterious disappearances. So be smart about what you choose to spend your money on. Also, you may not need everything on the list, as some items are optional.
Book your camp appointment early 2-3 months before bags are being picked up. Give yourself ample time to make changes in your order. Leave plenty of time to label and don’t forget to ask about ‘free’ name taping services. Many camp outfitters offer this service when you spend over certain amount.
Allow your camper enough time at the scheduled appointment You will need 2-3 hours per camper … especially important for first timers. I know that seems like a long time but, trust me, your child will need time to try on clothing/shoes etc. And if possible, try to book the appointment at a time of day that your child doesn’t tend to get easily tired or distracted.
Feed your child before your appointment and pack a snack Remember these appointments can take up to 3 hours, (especially for first timers). A hungry child (or parent) makes for a cranky/bad experience. So bring something along to keep your child (and yourself) going.
Preview before your appointment (and you can/should say NO!) If an item does not look or feel “right” to you in the eleventh hour, don’t feel obligated to take it.
Save Coupons, Seek Out Deals Yes, clip, snip and SAVE! We all know camp is expensive and camp shopping is no exception. So why not save yourself some money by using coupons where you can?
You should also look for sales during the off-season. For instance, during August a lot of stores sell off camp merchandise they have left over and — trust me — it really is the same year after year. August is a great time to purchase towels, comforters and bunk junk for the following summer. You can save up to half off of regular prices. Come the following spring, you will be thrilled you had the foresight to make these advance purchases.
Also, get on your camp’s uniform company’s email list. They usually run promotional sales to entice families to purchase during the off-season. Also a great time to stock up!
In the end, we all know how enticing it can be to go into the store and see all those camp ‘goodies’ — so be prepared to hear ‘I need/want’ from your child. Some special ‘Bunk Junk’ and extras to make your camper feel excited when they get to camp is a good idea. Just don’t get caught up in the camp buying hoopla, or you will surely feel the pain when your credit card statement arrives!
Hopefully shopping with your camper will be a ‘fun’ experience. Whether they are going off to uniform camp or not, there are many choices out there! So remember these tips to help you out and HAPPY SHOPPING! : )
FOR MORE HELPFUL HINTS AND TO GET MORE INFORMATION ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAMP FOR YOUR CHILD CONTACT …
Erica Siegmann (Mother & ‘Camp Specialist’)