The Ritual of Packing for Camp

The anticipation of camp time approaching can create as much joy and excitement as actually arriving! 

summer camp trunk

Preparing for camp is a time-established ritual that girls at Rockbrook have known for more than a century. Exploring the archives of old Carrier Pigeon newsletters uncovers fascinating references to girls preparing their steamer trunks, counting out their stockings, and visiting department stores for final items. Campers today go through much of the same preparations (though no one arrives by Pullman car anymore!). 

The rituals of reviewing the packing list, counting out clothing items, and labeling belongings can bring up all kinds of feelings for campers and their parents. Sometimes it’s a little nervousness around leaving home for the first time and making new friends. For returning campers, it can be great anticipation to see old friends and return to familiar places. 

summer camp footlocker

Deciding what to bring to camp is another big ritual, approached with great care and attention by some campers. They know that space is limited in their bunk, but there’re so many things they want to bring! Books, a favorite stuffed animal, stationary for writing home, and costumes for cabin skits are crammed in. Careful decisions must be weighed! There’s always an item or two that’s forgotten or left out, but as all campers know, simplifying life down to fewer items brings its own joy too. 

No matter how many or few belongings each camper arrives with, quality time at camp has nothing to do with the “stuff” you bring. Showing up ready to make new friends, try new things, and have great days is the only thing you need to pack. And maybe a toothbrush.

—Miranda Barrett
   Camp Mom, former camper and counselor


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