PACKING – From the mom’s perspective

By: Steffi Belitsky

How do you get ready as your child starts to talk about packing for camp in your house?packing-for-camp

— In my house it is time to go to the garage and the storage space, get out the duffle bags and wonder where the things that you were SURE you put in there last summer got to.

— It is the time when each child, one at a time, brings out their entire wardrobe of clothing, from underwear to Shabbat Whites.  Even the clothes that are still on said child’s floor even though you have been reminding that child for weeks that we would be going through everything shortly.

— It is when you have several trash bags at the ready to get rid of the items that you knew your child would never wear but they insisted that they would and are now blissfully too small.

— It is the time when you realize that there are only so many t-shirts a child can own.

— It is the time when you make three piles, one for donation, one for keep but not to go to camp, and the final pile that will make it up to camp.


Once you are sure everything is out of the child’s room and sorted into the three aforementioned piles, you are ready to check for labeling and see what is REALLY going to go to camp.

— But, before you can really get to that, you have to do MORE laundry because, as also mentioned earlier, there were clothes that came from the child’s floor.  So off you go to get the laundry done and try to keep track as to what went into the wash.

— Then you start labeling.  Either you have tags that are iron on, or stick on or, like me, you have waited too long to order those things, you rummage around the house looking for the Sharpie that you KNOW you put in THAT drawer just the other day and is now MIA.  Rushing around the house, asking the others that live there where it is, it magically appears back in that drawer where you know it was not just a short time ago.

— Sigh…..Back to labeling.  I sit with each child and realize that there are far too many clothes to take to camp so the negotiations begin.  I advise my child that it is camp, the fancy dress that you wore to that fancy party last year is NOT appropriate for camp. They then advise you how they HAVE to have that dress for the dance. For the sake of their self-esteem, you acquiesce.

— You negotiate how many t-shirts will go to camp and then realize that that does NOT include all the camp t-shirts that they have accumulated over the years, (how does an 11 year old have that many t-shirts as they have only been a camper for 4 years?)

— You finalize the negotiations, you are relatively sure your child will have everything they need including: all colors for, “that program that MAY OR MAY NOT happen at the end of the session” are covered, enough sunscreen for your child and their entire unit and stationary.

— You add a few disposable cameras for your child to take because even though you have bribed your child with lots and lots of things to make sure they get in front of the photographer for the photo program that camp uses, you know that it is never enough.


Troop-Beverly-Hills2-300x225Bags are packed, toiletries are purchased, linens are bagged up.  Your child is ready…..until…..”Mom, I need that, “insert your own child’s desperate need” I have to wear that NOW!”  Sigh – in my house it is always the bathing suits.  You finally are ready to get their things to camp….along with the child of course!

A few days later, you receive a piece of mail… You start doing that dance, you know the one, the one where you thank whoever you believe in at the moment that your child DOES love you and wants to stay connected.  You open the letter and what does it say?  “Dear Mom, you forgot to pack my…”

5 Responses to PACKING – From the mom’s perspective

  1. Stefanie June 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    All the above is absolutely true–PLUS…no, you don’t need the heels, curling iron or hairspray. No, you make not sneak in food. No, I don’t think it is reasonable to bring 10 bottles of nailpolish–I know you like to do your bunkmates’ nails on rainy days, but there are four different shades of blue there. Yes, you do in fact need bug spray. Yes, I agree, it’s a good idea to bring an extra toothbrush. WHAT? NOOOO….you do not share hair accessories. Yes, you may bring extras to “loan” your friends but don’t take them back. If it says “dry clean,” please bring it back upstairs. What do you mean you don’t need stamps? Oh, okay, as long as you use Bunk 1 email…

    …it goes on and on. Gotta run now–must finish packing.

    • Steffi Belitsky June 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Ah yes – the MUCH NEEDED curling iron and flat iron….and of course…the MAKE-UP. How can our daughters survive without the make up! And the boys have their schtick too. Mine had to have SEVERAL pair of gaga gloves because, and read this with a whine, “One pair is just not enough.”

      • Loren W June 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        Having kids of both genders, I have to say it’s MUCH easier to pack for boys than girls (go ahead, call me sexist – you know it’s true.) Although DD (now a proud camp alumna) did most of her own packing after age 11, she always brought WAY too much stuff, and this only got worse as she got older.

        DS is content to have three dozen t-shirts, a dozen pairs of shorts, underwear and socks. (And is equally happy to just wear a white t-shirt for Shabbat.) Couldn’t care less about any of the other stuff.

        They both start packing WAY in advance… because they love camp so much and cannot wait to get there :)

    • Banana June 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

      actually – curling irons and hairspray are a complete necessary. However, we are not allowed to wear heels (very impractical for walking across camp). I found it easiest to pack when I did it by myself. My mom’s theory was “you have to carry it into the bunk” so I took what I thought I needed/wanted and if I over packed, it was no one’s fault except my own. A lot of the time the hair stuff and the makeup is to look nice for yourself, not just the boys (who all have cooties anyway). It feels great to look nice once a week and take pictures with your friends! My advice to parents who stress over packing is stop fighting and just let them do it. It was comforting to know that every time I entered the kitchen to label my clothes, I wasn’t feeling judged. Good luck!

      <3 a devoted and seasoned Harlamite!

  2. Michele Trichter June 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    You couldn’t have said it better! Although we don’t have the “clothes on the bedroom floor” issue we do have the “but I HAVE to have that, there is PLENTY of room…this is my 5th summer….I KNOW what will fit” (what? in a small cubby??? Really?) and I MUST have new makeup for camp (come on, mom, it’s for Shabbat….like that will hit my soft spot! LOL!) Good thing Madison got a top bunk….she has the whole top shelf for the, probably, 6 boxes of “crap” that she seemed to sneak out of the house….including duct tape (10 rolls) and the infamous Bath and Body Works scented stuff!
    Lo and behold, we arrived at camp and her much needed stuffed animal “Duckie” AND her sleeping pillow were NOT packed! WHAT? UGH, got home at noon and off the PO I went to overnight both! Enough said! :)
    Happy Harlam 2013…..glad it’s 7 weeks before the UNPACKING begins! :)

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