Summer is coming to an end. If you’re in certain parts of the US, summer is already over. I am a Northeasterner and therefore my mind is only just beginning to turn to book socks, shoe shopping, and gel pens. But hold on a second! Before you turn the page on the seasons, here are my personal patented hacks for next summer—especially if you have a kid who is going back to camp, whether overnight camp or day camp.
1. Start Packing Now
I realize this makes me sound neurotic. It’s not what you think! I’m not crazy! I mean, I am, but not about this. Obviously, you can’t pack a kid’s clothes for next summer at overnight camp—your kid is probably going to be a size or two bigger than they are now. However, there are ways you can make things a lot easier for yourself for next summer now.
Overnight camp: As soon as you wash the towels and the sheets, PUT THEM RIGHT BACK IN THE DUFFEL BAG. Put in the camp accoutrements—the mosquito spray, the suntan lotion, the batteries, the fans, the clipboard—all the stuff you won’t use during the year. Do not pass Go. Write a list of what you are putting back in the duffel. Trust me—when you open the duffel in June in a packing panic, you will cry tears of relief at your foresight. Maybe that’s just me.
Day camp: At the day camps my children attend, there is a stable of “regular” crazy days: crazy hat day, dress-like-the-1960s day, Hawaiian day, cowboy/girl day, etc. So I buy a large Tupperware-ish container, like two feet by two feet, and put all the stuff in there—the leis, the cowgirl hats, the bandannas, the beaded necklaces, etc. I put it all in there along with a few washed and folded towels. I seal it and mark it, “Camp.” Then I put it in the basement and don’t think about it until next year, when I will put it in my laundry room and go to it every day, like my own personal summer concierge. It feels oddly luxurious.
Right now, at many stores, you can get camp-oriented stuff on sale significantly discounted from its regular price. Camp stationery is practically being given away at many places. Take advantage of it and throw it in the duffel.
3. Ask Questions Now.
I’m sure that these days are a blur of hugs and kisses if your kid has been away all summer. Maybe you are already creeping back into regular argumentative territory. But nonetheless, ask now, “What do you wish you had at camp this year that you didn’t?” Whether it’s “more after-bite” or something more cosmetic, the kid has a far better recollection of what they wish they had now than they will in 10 months—take advantage of that! (Also, see above: sales.)
Remember, neurosis now means comparative normal later. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
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