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Shopping is in order to prepare daughter for camp

June 22, 2007|By LISA PREJEAN

My son has gone away for a week of summer camp for three years now, and I've always been involved in the packing process.

T-shirts, swim trunks, sneakers, sleeping bag, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, comb, sunscreen, bug spray.

That's pretty much all a boy needs at camp.

Before we started packing this year, I asked if he needed anything else.

"I could use a couple more pairs of ankle socks, Mom, and don't forget, we need to buy some snacks for the bus ride."

OK. Socks and snacks. Got it. A few minutes and 10 bucks later, he was set.

There's a little change this year in our packing ritual, though.

His little sister is now old enough to go to camp. Plus, I'm going along as a counselor.

Instead of packing for one, I'd be packing for three.

Of course, this would be no problem, considering I've packed for camp before.

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I quickly learned that packing a boy's summer camp suitcase is quite different from packing a girl's summer camp suitcase.

In the first place, my 8-year-old had outgrown 90 percent of the summer clothes she owned.

So, that meant we had to go shopping.

(Isn't that a shame?)

We couldn't just buy plain T-shirts because these clothes would become her wardrobe for the rest of the summer, so everything had to be coordinated.

The bottoms had to match the tops.

The socks had to match the tops, which matched the bottoms.

The ponytail holders had to match the socks, which matched the tops that matched the bottoms.

The hat to protect her face from the sun had to match the pony tail holders, socks, tops and bottoms.

An outfit for each day, plus one for travel. It was a long shopping trip, but we maintained our stamina, thanks to a stop for lunch in between stores.

Can camp be any more grueling than this?

There also was the issue of pajamas. Sometimes it's cool in the evenings. Sometimes it's hot. A girl needs to be prepared for either scenario, so at least two sets of pajamas are in order. My daughter thought she should have seven, but I told her she'd have to rough it.

After all our new purchases were washed, dried and folded, it was time to pack.

A good friend of ours suggested purchasing a box of two-gallon bags, labeling them with the days of the week and placing the clothes for each day in that day's bag. At the end of the day, the child can place the dirty clothes back in that day's bag so the dirty clothes and the clean clothes don't get mixed up.

This suggestion has served my son well during his previous trips to camp, although not all the dirty clothes ended up back in the bags. At least the dirty clothes and the clean clothes were kept apart.

So, each child's suitcase contains bags of clothes for each day to streamline the getting dressed process.

Once the clothes were taken care of, we had to pack personal grooming items.

A boy might only need shampoo and a comb, but a girl's hair care products can take up half her travel bag.

It's not easy to air dry long hair.

One hair dryer. Packed.

To combat the tangles, conditioner and tangle spray are needed.

One bottle of each. Packed.

A comb is good for parting hair and keeping braids straight, but it's difficult to run one through thick tresses.

Brush and comb. Packed.

The other side of the travel bag is full of various lotions and potions.

I think we're ready to go.

This week my husband wondered aloud how I would do on a bus to Tennessee with all those children.

I smiled and reminded him that I'm a teacher and am with children all day long.

We'll see how it goes when I'm with them 24/7 for a week.

The classroom might seem like a breeze.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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