How To Pack for Your Kid’s Summer Overnight Camp in 10 minutes or Less? Read On!

Check! Check! Check!
The Overnight Camp Packing List

Let’s start with last year. How NOT to pack. Last year for overnight camp, we spent a week sorting through. Picking out. Labeling. Labeling. LABELING. Stocking up on countless Ziplock baggies in various sizes. Driving to giant stores with lots o’ things to purchase stuff. Then, sorting all those items into the Ziplock baggies and labeling those baggies with Sharpie after Sharpie after precious Sharpie…. 6 pairs of socks in this baggie. 7 shirts in this one. 8 undies here.

With the precision of a surgical team preforming Rhinoplasty on a budding Hollywood Star, my son and I worked together, Check! Check! Check!, following to the detail the holy grail of the Packing List prescribed by the Camp:

Pre-addressing envelopes for all of the witty, heart-felt letters he would write to his family whilst away. Gathering age-appropriate novels he would read cover-to-cover whilst in rest-time. Selecting the perfect journal in which he would scribble his deepest thoughts about his daily, life-changing experiences.

And, my favorite, running around looking for an appropriate “musical instrument, optional” – would a toy accordion displaying our proud Polish roots suffice??? (If yes, insert into Ziplock baggie and label “Musical Instrument”)

All hundred-billion, expertly-labeled baggies later, we carefully placed all check-list items into giant duffle bag – Check! Check! Check! A masterpiece of packing agility and ability. He would survive!

And now…..Cut to this year. The “10 Minutes or Less” program……

Yes, a year later and much, much the wiser, yesterday I, literally, wandered into my son’s room while he was off at a haircut. Opened a drawer. Looked for the grubbiest, grungiest, darkest, most sad looking items. Grabbed them one by one. Made little piles. Yup, that looks like about 6 shirts… Yup, 3 pair undies. … Yup, a toothbrush…Yup, yup, yup.…And tossed them all in a free-form super-jumble into his giant duffle and…….. voila! Packed in 10 minutes or less without a Sharpie or Ziplock in sight!

No age-appropriate novel, no journal, no pre-addressed envelopes. No booklight, no nothing but the extreme basics. And, seriously, no optional musical-instrument this year– he can just grab a blade of grass and blow, my friends….

For, you see, last year, of the 7 t-shirts packed, 3 were actually worn. Of the toiletries so painstakingly sorted, only the toothbrush was used, maybe once. Of the pre-addressed envelopes hand-written so he could send hilarious, campy-anecdotes to grandpas across the land – yeah, right.

He played from 7am-10pm each day, falling into bed exuberantly exhausted each night. He got dirty. Really, really dirty. He avoided the shower (bar of soap came back completely intact, gasp!) and became a wild, mountain urchin whilst away.

And, a year later we see, that’s exactly why we send him.

Namaste & Happy Packing! -OM

Disclaimer: No Ziplock Baggies were harmed during this packing tornado. All Ziplock Baggies were rinsed and happily re-used.


  1. Haha! I'm organzing a camp this year and we hand out a packlist...basic-minimalist packlist...because parents always pack waaaaayyyy to much in those bags...plus we tell them that the kids need to carry those backpacks themselfs...all the way (which is from the car to the house, but that we won't say)... And since they are even more worried about their kids future back problems from having to heavy backpags...it works great!
    I'm an expert in finding someones kids lost items because ziplock says 6 undies and " I can't find it...I searched everywhere"*imagine whiney voice*, expert in how to tell the 3 weeks later calling parents that we still haven't found that pink belt with the shiny stars.... as if we live all year long on that campground...fun to read the other side.....please mommies out there: we have to repack all that stuff...mostly smelly sticky...

    1. excellent and funny information! thanks you for sharing!!!

  2. Love it! I was just starting to pull out the baggies and sharpies!! Your post is perfect...I'm going to take a chill pill and stuff some stuff in a bag.

  3. Love it! I was just starting to pull out the baggies and sharpies!! Your post is perfect...I'm going to take a chill pill and stuff some stuff in a bag.

    1. love it Resa! yes, enjoy that chill pill because it all gets jumbled and gross and half of it gets lost anyway ;) ha! sense of humor required always -a