Packing Hell: My Daughter Is Going To Camp – Why Does She Need So Much Stuff?

A friend of mine actually hid from her husband how much it cost to pack her child for overnight camp. “He would have flipped out if he knew I spent a little more than $800 for all the supplies and clothes I needed for my daughter for camp.” On my end, my stomach turned when I saw the list of stuff I had to pack for my daughter for overnight camp. The list actually had more stuff on it than my daughter actually owns in all her dressers and four closets. And she’s only going for two weeks.

Last weekend, I went to visit a girlfriend. “Don’t even look in there,” she said as we passed by her guest bedroom. Of course I looked. There were so many clothes, in piles everywhere; it looked like her two kids were moving into a dorm room for college for a year. They were in the middle of packing for camp.

So, yes, I almost cried when I saw the list, not only because of the extra cash, but because this list would take me weeks to cobble together (or at least three very tiring days). When I went to overnight camp, I was sent with a sleeping bag and a trunk. I literally slept in a cabin that had a leak right over my head. I’d either wake up soaking wet from a rainstorm, or I’d wake up covered in mildew. And I loved it! But my mother certainly didn’t pack, as my daughter’s camp list says to pack, 12 short-sleeved T-shirts, four long sleeved t-shirts, and three WARMER long sleeved sweatshirts.

My daughter doesn’t even own six pairs of shorts, or hiking boots, and really? Three different TYPES of jackets? Not to mention “the bedding.” Like I said, I slept in a sleeping bag. Apparently, campers these days don’t actually camp. They stay at a hotel. A shitty hotel, but it’s definitely more of a hotel when I hear that I need to pack her with four sheets, two warm blankets, a comforter, two pillow cases and a pillow (plus a sleeping bag that’s only used for canoe trips). My daughter, ahem, doesn’t know how to make a bed even, so I’m sure she’ll really appreciate the fitted sheets I need to by her. (She has a double bed at home and I need to buy for single bed. But, apparently, she doesn’t have to make her bed at camp. The counselors will do it.)

This whole list – and I haven’t yet tackled to the other stuff on the list – makes me cringe. But it also makes me laugh hard. Last year, my daughter went to a different overnight camp. I dropped her off with her duffle bag (packed with way too much stuff) and shed a tear and took a picture. When she ran off the bus a week later and I was there to greet her, I couldn’t even hug her. That’s right! I couldn’t even hug my own daughter, because she smelled that bad. And she was also wearing the exact same thing I sent her to camp in the day she left, except when she got off the bus, her T-shirt was inside out and backwards and her fly was down on her shorts. Obviously, she hadn’t changed at all into the numerous shirts, shorts and sweat outfits I had packed for her.

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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    • Mrs. Lynn

      I slept in a sleeping bag in a bunk bed! That was part of the fun! We didn’t need but one light jacket, but we’re also in Texas. I think I had maybe one suitcase, and a backpack, tops! Camp has gotten elaborate!

    • Nicholle

      wtf kind of rich-ass snobby camp are you sending your daughter to? ugh. the counselors will make her bed?! I went to camp and came home with an appreciation for what my parents did for me because we had to make our own beds, do our own dishes, and were responsible for keeping our clothes clean (and ourselves clean). It increased my independence, and I came home just a little bit more mature and grown up. It sounds like this camp needs to step back and let kids be kids, and to teach them some independent living skills. The kids will feel good about their efforts and will feel proud of themselves. That’s more of a self-esteem booster than anything else.