Summer youth camp is an exciting time for both teens and parents. But along with the excitement there may be some anxiety and fear as well. It is much easier for parents to send a teen off to youth camp that has had the camp experience before. But it may create a lot of fear and anxiety for a younger teen that has never been away from home and has never been apart from his or her parents for so many days. Of course there will also be other teens who can’t wait for the chance to get away from home for a few days. And most parents can appreciate a little break away from the teens for a few days. Even so, a little concern and anxiety on the part of parents is also to be expected. Parents must keep in mind that a well-planned youth camp has great staff and leaders to take care of your youth during their stay.
Packing List for Summer Youth Camp
One of the first things you need to do is time to start making a packing list for the camp. It is important to know what can be taken and what must be left behind. Most camps will provide you a list of items that need to be packed. Some camps require certain clothing and some special equipment. They also may prohibit certain items. When packing for camp, these lists are a great place to start. Another good resource to discover what to pack is to talk to the camp staff. The camp staff will be familiar with the weather, the terrain or requirements for any outdoor camp activities, and they can also offer tips that will make the summer youth camp experience much more enjoyable. If you know parents who have sent their teen to the camp before, they can also be a great resource for packing tips. The key is to find out as much information as you can, then prepare your own packing list.
Summer Youth Camp Recreation Activities
Many summer youth camps offer a variety of recreational activities in addition to the standard camp program. Homesickness is a part of the “first time away from home” camp, but the more activities that suit the desires of your teen, the better. Look through the recreation options with your teen and discuss them. Let the youth negotiate which activities they wish to participate in. Some activities may require special permission from parents. If, for some reason, any activity is off-limits to your youth you will need to make that clear to the camp staff and put it in writing. Some recreational activities may also require youth to pack special equipment or clothing. Most camp registration forms will have a section of the form for parents to complete regarding the recreational activities and permission for the youth to participate in them.
Health Concerns and Safety
If your teen has any health concerns such as allergies, asthma, etc. be sure that the youth camp staff is aware of these. Again, most summer youth camp registration forms will have a section for you to provide this information. Also be sure that any medications your youth needs are sent to the camp along with them. You may be able to pack them in their bag, but some camps will not allow a teen to keep their medications in and around the bunk. If possible, place the medications in the original containers, then pack them all together in a clear plastic bag that is properly labeled. This would not apply to emergency inhalers, but it is something to clear up with the camp staff before your teen leaves for summer youth camp.
Don’t wait until the week before the your teen is leaving for summer youth camp to start planning your packing. It is also vital to include your teen in the packing process in order for them to be familiar with what they are taking. Some clothing may need to be bought in advance. It’s also a good idea to label the clothing discretely inside on the tags with your teen’s name or at least their initials. Labeling should extend to everything the youth is packing. Clothing, bathing suits, towels, cameras and anything else that is going into that bag, plus the bag itself. If the summer youth camp has sports activities, field trips or religious services, you will need to also pack the clothing for these functions. There may also be special guidelines such as a one-piece swimsuit for girls, no speedos for the boys, etc. I remember one youth pastor telling the youth to place their swimsuit on the stove-top burner and if it doesn’t cover it completely, just turn on the burner and go buy something more modest. If the summer youth camp offers crafting opportunities, you may want to send along some clothes that are not new. Painting and crafts can be messy and are not the easiest thing to remove from clothes. Also, don’t forget rain gear. Summer youth camps don’t curtail every activity just because it may be raining.
A large duffel bag may be the best way to pack everything inside for the camp. Many of them now come with wheels and are easier to transport and to store once they are empty. The age of your teen needs to be taken into consideration. If your teen is going to summer youth camp on a bus or public transportation, it will be important to have something they can handle. Wheels will help. Personal items should be packed in a separate bag within the larger bag. Toiletries should be in a handy bag that can be taken to the bathing facilities. Items such as toothbrush, soap, towels and washcloths, comb, brush, shampoo should be stored in this bag for packing. Keep the soap in a traveling soap dish as well as the toothbrush in a toothbrush holder. It may not come home that way, but at least it is a good start. In fact, you should probably expect the loss of a few items at the youth camp. Expect it and pack accordingly. Then you won’t be upset if something doesn’t return or it is returned in a less than ideal condition.
Pack some self-addressed postcards that will help your teen remember to drop a note home. This will prevent them from using their spending money on postage and allow them to keep in touch with you during their absence. You might also add some personal notes of encouragement in their belongings. Even though it was many years ago that I attended a summer youth camp as a camper, I still remember the little notes of encouragement my mom packed in my belongings. They were tucked away in shirt pockets, pants pockets, and many other unexpected places that didn’t embarrass me as a youth, but reminded me that my family loved me and missed me. Some other things to consider packing, with the permission of the camp staff, are cameras, CD/MP3 players, and games. Books are a great addition for evenings when the campfire is over, as well.
With a little advance planning, packing for and attending summer youth camp can be a great experience for youth and parents alike.
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