Packing Your Son’s Trunk
By Laura H. Ordway, Winona Director/Owner
The thing you should keep in mind when packing your child’s camp trunk for the first (or tenth) time is: do not panic. I should heed my own advice because each summer, while packing two trunks for our daughters, I start to feel a little overwhelmed by the process. Then I think of one Winona parent who used to pack FIVE trunks each summer. Impressive, by any measure. I’m pretty sure she’s not available for hire, so this article will hopefully emphasize to you what I find most helpful when packing my children’s trunks: MINIMALIZATION. I’m going to keep this short, adding in only crucial details. When I Googled “how to pack a trunk for summer camp” I found a lot of novella-length articles. Some had good background information, but most just added to the overwhelming feeling of the situation. The purpose of this article is to actually get the thing packed. Helpful things to remember:
You will save time by remembering that your goal is NOT to recreate your son’s living environment at home. If anything, here at Winona we want just the opposite. We want your son to discover in this new environment, without all of the amenities of home, how comfortable he can be. So, don’t pack extra bedding (unless it’s medically necessary) and allow him the chance to learn to wear extra layers to bed on cool nights. (We do allow one throw-sized fleece blanket from home, but that should be it.) Don’t pack three bottles of shampoo. Pack one, and if he runs out he will learn how to ask a counselor for more (Winona resupplies toiletry items). No need to pack one of every item of outerwear from the catalog. Don’t send him books and comics and mini games and playing cards for free time. Just one or two of the items will be fine. Do not send electronics. Allow him the chance to figure out solutions by not offering him an option for every possible weather/free-time situation he may encounter at camp.
You will save time by packing used items from home, rather than making a long shopping list for new items. At first my daughters thought going to camp would be like the first day of school: “Yeah – new items!” They caught on quickly when they watched me launder, and then pack into their trunks the towels we use to dry off our dogs. If a towel has a hole in it, great! Send it to camp. Those Crocs about on their last few weeks, perfect! Off to camp they go. A pair of jeans with holes in the knees, fantastic! In the trunk they go so when they get saturated with bug repellant and marshmallows or used as a hammock I will feel just fine about recycling them at the end of camp. Of course, things should “fit” at camp, so do take the time to ensure shorts, t-shirts and sweatshirts work, but overall save yourself time by packing clothes and toiletries you already have at home. It’s certainly okay to send brand new clothing to camp as long as you realize it has the possibility of being damaged.
Unpacking the trunk, also known as “Stand Back!” We try to get your son’s items cleaned and dried before closing his trunk to be sent home, but it’s still very similar to opening a sealed sports locker in the gym. A Winona parent once informed me that the sandwich she had packed for her son in his carry-on luggage on Opening Day returned in his trunk 3 ½ weeks later (sorry about that Liz!). But what is the most important part of unpacking, in the midst of piles of pine needles and unidentified odors, is listening . . . ask for stories about what your son thought was the silliest part of the summer, ask what made him feel more confident, what was his biggest concern that he overcame. (And if you do have Winona t-shirts & shorts that he has outgrown, please consider mailing them to us here at camp so we can help our Campership boys get outfitted each summer.)
Here are the basic trunk packing steps:
- Use the WINONA TRUNK PACKING GUIDE and make a pile of all the items your son has at home which he can bring to camp (start putting his name on items)
- Order trunk, uniforms and any items he does not have from AmeraSport (or vendor of your choice)
- Prep toiletries and non-clothing personal items; shop for missing items
- Name tag, name label, permanent marker, brand or use any other form of putting your son’s name on all his items
- Do a final packing at least two or three days before the trunk has to be shipped/transported to camp to allow for last minute items which may have been overlooked previously
So, now you are ready to pack your son’s trunk!
Good luck and remember: LESS IS BETTER.