By Lauren Coulston, Integration Manager, Women & Co.
In New York City, where my family resides, camp registration begins insanely early, as does camp prep. We registered for summer day camp right after Thanksgiving, so it's only natural that in the spring, I'm starting to think about what I'll need to get ready. I reached out to my network of savvy mom friends for a mini focus group and curated this list of top 10 must-haves for camp this summer:
1. Name tags for EVERYTHING
Erin, a mother of two in New York, NY, puts name tags on everything that she sends to camp, from the clothes on her daughter's back to towels, goggles and sun hats. Don't have time for name tags? "A Sharpie pen works in a pinch," say Juliet, a mother of two in New York, NY.
2. Non-leaky insulated water bottle
Briana, a mother of two in New York, NY, and I were lamenting that it is "so hard to find a water bottle that doesn't leak!" There is nothing worse than a leaky water bottle that turns the camp bag into a soaking wet mess. This is at the top of Briana's list for summer camp.
3. Water shoes or multipurpose shoes that can get wet
Both of my friends named Rachel agree that these types of shoes are a necessity for water play and sports. Rachel, a mother of one in Sudbury, MA, says "I always buy closed-toe sandals that also work for sports."
4. Portable wipes to clean EVERYTHING (including dirty hands)
Holly, a mother of two in New York, NY, throws wipes in her sons' camp bags with the instructions that they should use them to clean anything and everything. She prefers citrus scented wipes to add a fresh scent to often stinky camp gear.
5. Insulated lunch box
Juliet thinks an insulated lunch box is crucial because many camps don't have the capacity to refrigerate the children's lunches. "Don't forget to include a fun shaped ice pack!" says Holly. Her boys like anything sports related.
Stef, a mother of two in Fairfield, CT, says that sunscreen is top on her list. Besides the pre-camp sunscreen application, she sends a bottle of spray sunscreen in her daughters' camp bags for easy reapplication during the day. In fact, all of the moms I spoke with agreed that this is a must-have so your child doesn't come home tired AND sunburned -- not a good combination!
7. Rash guard swim shirts
Dawn, a mother of three in Brooklyn, NY, reports that swim shirts are at the top of the list for her fair-skinned bunch. Erin and Holly wholeheartedly agreed with this purchase -- it's better to cover up and have to apply less sunscreen to sensitive skin.
8. Plastic bags for those wet swim shirts and bathing suits
Holly stashes a few empty plastic bags in her sons' camp bags. She says this is "a great way to recycle grocery store bags and I avoid a soaking wet camp bag at the end of the day."
9. Sun hat and sunglasses
Rachel, mother of one in New York, NY, has a sun hat and sunglasses at the top of her list because unlike a typical school day, kids spend a lot of the camp day outdoors. She recommends "Buying multiples, because they will inevitably get lost."
10. A backpack to carry everything
Rachel from Sudbury, MA, agrees that a backpack to carry all the camp essentials, such as a towel, a bathing suit, a change of clothes and lunch, is a must. She says, "I like monogramming for key items like backpacks, towels, water bottles and lunch boxes. It saves me from putting name tags on these items."
See anything that's not on your list? Let the shopping begin! Here's my tip: Since I'm getting an early start on camp prep, I plan to purchase many of these items online using promo codes and free shipping.
About the Author:
As Integration Manager, Lauren manages Women & Co.'s strategic partnerships to syndicate content and build integrated programs on websites frequented by women. Lauren brings over 15 years of financial services experience and a passion for helping women feel financially empowered. Lauren holds a B.S. in Finance from Tulane University's A.B. Freeman School of Business. In addition to her role at Women & Co., Lauren is Events Chair of the Citi Working Parents Network NYC and serves on the Citi International Women's Day Steering Committee.