Within the next two weeks, children will be headed off to camp and many teens will be embarking on once in a lifetime journeys. As time is ticking away, there are a number of things to do to get your children off to a great start.
- Stick to the packing list. Camps and tour companies have been doing this for years and have perfected the art of a packing list. Especially when it comes to teen travel, less is more. There will be opportunities for laundry and, keep in mind, they will be shopping and need space in their bags to bring home any souvenirs. For campers, it’s a bit harder, but remember, the kids always end up sharing clothes and it is likely you will bring home unnecessary items on visiting day.
- Label everything but be realistic. Despite efforts to sew on, iron on, and write on your child’s name, you will still unpack their bags at the end of the summer and find someone else’s shirt or shorts and inevitably, some of your child’s items will be amongst the missing. This is not always a bad thing, depending upon the condition of the clothes. I tell my kids every year to throw away all socks and to leave some smelly, water logged shoes behind.
- Finish packing early. It is always a big relief when the final zipper is pulled and you have completed the packing. This gives you more opportunities to spend quality time with your children before they leave. If bags leave through a baggage service, they are often picked up early so they help you in the process. But, if your kids bring their bags with them, try to complete the packing at least 24 hours in advance. This will also give you one last chance to buy any forgotten items.
- Send a letter in advance. Imagine your child arriving to camp or to their first mail stop on a trip. It doesn’t matter if they have gone to camp for 6 years or if this is their first experience away from home, the reading of a letter from mom or dad, gives them that connection to home. It doesn’t have to be long. Try to avoid telling them you miss them or filling them in on all the exciting things back home. This will help alleviate home sickness.
- Provide others with important addresses, keeping special postage in mind. In the week or 2 before your child leaves, provide their close friends and family with any addresses where they can send letters to your child. This may be the camp address (put age division or bunk, if you know it, on the envelope) or the address of a mail stop on a teen trip. Please be careful about how long it might take for a letter to get to a foreign country and whether or not extra postage is needed.
Have wonderful summer!
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