Organize Your Kids for Summer Day Camp

Summer is finally here!  After a LONG winter, I know that I am ready for summer and that means…. Summer Camp Organizing!  Even my kids love getting organized for summer day camp because it means that school is almost over.  Whether your kids are going to one summer camp for all 9 weeks or they are switching camps week-by-week, these tips will help make your summer run a little smoother.  Here are my top tips for organizing for summer camp:

1. Buy at least enough of each clothing type to get you to Wednesday.  Most kids need swim suits, towels, shorts, socks, sneakers, water shoes, etc.  My recommendation is that you go find at least 6 towels, 6 bathing suits, shorts, socks, t-shirts, etc (not shoes, but at least 2 each of those).  By Wednesday, the damp towels and bathing suits are getting smelly anyway, so it is time for a load or two of washing.

2. Assemble your camp bags right from the laundry.  Don’t bother folding and putting away their camp clothes.  You are only going to have to bag them for the week.  I use the plastic shopping bags since it keeps the dry clothes protected from the wet during the day (and I don’t mind if I lose them or they get dirty).  My kids need two bags per day: a.m. bag with towel, bathing suit and swim shoes and p.m. bag with underwear, shorts and towel.  I pre-pack on Sundayfor Sun-Wed.  I do a load of laundry on Wednesday evening and pack for Thurs-Fri.

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Pre-package bags with each change of clothes for the day

3. Roll morning clothes for less stress.  I put the clothes that they are going to wear in the morning rolled complete with socks, underwear, shirt and shorts.  If they go to camp in a bathing suit, shirt, shorts and socks, then roll those the same way.  This way they can still choose their outfit for the day, but it is one choice instead of five.  This streamlines our mornings and eliminates time suckers and arguments.

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Rolling complete outfits makes mornings easier

4. Buy different colored towels for each kid.  This will make it easy for packing and help you make  sure that all your towels have made it home.  If all six (or 10) didn’t make it home, then you know to have them check the lost and found.

5. Make sure you have clothes and shoes that are easy for the kids to get off and on.  Since they change at least twice a day and have bathroom breaks in between, making sure your child can easily and independently get their clothes off and on will reduce their and their camp counselors frustrations and time. I highly recommend tankinis for the girls (two piece bathing suits that still provide full coverage).  For shoes, don’t send your child in tie shoes, if what they really need is velcro.

6. Label Everything!  I can’t stress this one enough, unless you have unlimited funds to replace all the items of clothing that will get lost if you don’t.  Our camp told us that by the end of the summer they have 10 large trash bags full of lost clothes, shoes and towels.  That is a lot of lost money!  Lovable Labels has great self stick labels that adhere to the tags of the clothes and stay on even through the wash.  They even have a camp pack that includes labels for water bottles, shoes and clothes.     Enter code TaraRLB1 to get 10% off your order.

7. Make lunches easy.  There are 10 weeks of summer, so if your kids are in camp 5 days per week that means you have 50 lunches to pack for the summer.Camp Labels

a. Pre-label all 45 bags (our camp requires disposable lunch bags) with your child’s name, bunk and other necessary information.  If you want to get fancy, use 4×4 shipping labels and just print a few sheets of them to affix to the front of the bag.

b. Pre-pack 5 bags for the week with all the non-perishable items: snack, fruit leathers, spoon/fork, napkin, water bottle, etc.  This way you will only have to add a sandwich or main course.

c. Don’t over pack. Our camp tells us that 50% of all packed lunches end up in the trash.  Only pack what you think your kids will reasonably eat while having a fun lunch with their friends.

8. Streamline your morning routine.  There are so many things that need doing in order to get out the door in the morning, so make your life as easy as possible.  Hair needs brushing, ponytails put in, sunscreen on, bug spray, back packs packed, etc.  Keep all the items you need to get this done in a bin in your kitchen or mudroom or get an over-the-door hanger with pockets to keep everything at your finger tips.Over-the-door-pockets

9. Prepare for summer first aid.  No matter how great the camps are at supervising our little ones, there will always be sunburn, bug bites, bee stings, cuts, scrapes, water in the ear, red eyes from chlorine in the pools and any number of minor first aid situations.  Make sure you have a good stock of all the necessary cures on hand.  Whether you like to use aloe, Calendula, peroxide or cortaid creme for whatever ails your little people, stock up now before the need arises.

Summer is a time for the kids to step away from the books and enjoy all that summer has to offer, just make sure that you are ready to handle the changes before they hit.  By getting organized for summer camp, you can ensure that both you and your kids have a fun-filled and stress free summer!

If you liked today’s post, you’re welcome to use it in your own newsletter or blog as long as you include the following blurb: Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Organizer Coach and Life Management Expert, Tara Donohue Rudo, helps working moms and families focus on what is important. Get her FREE weekly tips and advice at

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