Recently, I was asked the following question for a magazine article written about summer camps.

Q:   What are the essential items parents should pack when sending a child to day camp?

This is an excellent question because the more prepared for camp a parent has their child, the better the child’s experience will be.

A:   Most camps have a common core of basics and essentials each child must have and will use over the course of the camp day.  Sunscreen – especially for outdoor camps, but even camps like Performing Arts Workshops, where the primary curriculum is held indoors on a stage, will have times where campers are outside.  Food – enough for a midmorning snack as well as lunch.  Parents need to remember that children will have a better day if their bodies are well fueled.  It is a good idea to make sure the lunch is nonperishable or the lunch box has its own source of cooling, such as reusable ice packs.  Most camps cannot provide refrigeration.  Water – kids will require more water due to the heat, and of course, all of the physical activity.  Not every camp has conveniently placed water fountains or water that tastes good.  Always label your child’s water bottle with their name!  Proper Clothing – make sure that based on your camp’s curriculum and activity plans that your child is dressed appropriately.  It will enhance their ability to participate in every activity as well as prevent heat-stroke.  For your child’s safety, never allow your child to go to camp in flip-flops or raised heel shoes.  Epi-pens, Medication, etc. – Nothing is more important than protecting your child’s health and welfare.  Parents can ensure this by always informing their camp of their child’s special needs, medications, disabilities, or allergies.  This should be done when registering for camp and then again in person on the first day of camp when you introduce your child to the on-site director and the staff.  Make sure to clearly label any medications with your child’s name, and submit a letter giving permission and instructions on their use.  Medications should be given to the on-site director for safekeeping.

Next, it is important to remember that every camp has its own special theme and some may have special requests on materials or supplies they require a child to bring in order to maximize their camp experience, safety, and enjoyment.  These items should be kept together in an easy to grab pack, box or bag so they are never left behind.  Nothing is more disheartening to a child than being the one camper left out of an activity or having to borrow supplies from the staff!  Finally, each child should come to camp with a good attitude and the mindset to participate and have fun!  Make sure they get plenty of sleep the night before and talk with your child each morning as you prepare to drop them off.  Just like in sports, it’s about getting psyched up!

Cheryl Appleman

President, Performing Arts Workshops


(310) 827-8827

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