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My oldest daughter attended her first summer day camp earlier this month. She ran to me waving a blue flier one day after school raving on and on about this particular camp. Horseback riding and twelve-foot water slide sealed the deal and I wrote the check. I have a feeling it is the first of many such expenditures.


Every afternoon I picked her up and she looked sun-kissed (brown as a nut as my mama would say) and smelled of fresh air and sunscreen with tales of the totally cool dunking booth and the friendly camp dog, a black Lab mix named Lulu. I didn’t hesitate to sign her up for this particular camp, which is staffed by a couple of the P.E. teachers from her school.


One morning on the way to drop her off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. she told me that one of the older girls had been mean to her. Now her definition of “mean” and mine can differ, so I asked her to tell me about it. Also the “older” girl is all of eight years old. Basically this girl has been bossy to Miss C. This apparently hasn’t been a huge deal as Miss C barely discussed it and has seemed quite happy to return to camp each morning. A few years ago she might have told me in tearful spurts.


Now my girl is holding her own. Also it helps that she’s the oldest sibling and may be just a tad boss girl herself at times.


I may or may not have been tempted to dust off the can of mama whoop ass this week should things have gotten out of hand with the older mean girl. I will admit to giving all the older girls an extra attentive gaze this morning at drop off. Just so they know who they’re messing with. Ahem.


Here are a few things I learned about day camp, which seems to be a fine segue into the whole summer camp experience … not sure we’re ready for overnight camp for a few years (Okay maybe she might be ready, but mama’s not ready.):


  • Camp organizers mean it when they say write your child’s name on everything. I failed to write Miss C’s name on the tag of her bathing suit the first day and sure enough she came home without it. Thankfully they had it in the camp van the next morning. I promptly grabbed that sucker and emblazoned it with her initials in bright blue Sharpie. 
  • Old tennis shoes are essential for tromping around on the playground or near the creek.
  • UV protective wear is great for hours spent in the sun. Miss C wore her pink tie dye look shirt from UV Skinz.
  • Be sure to pack a bottle of water in your camper’s lunch box.
  • Go ahead and apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Even though you’ll pack sunscreen it helps the camp organizers if they don’t have to apply sunscreen to all the kids first thing in the morning. I noticed some kids had these nifty sunscreen bottles with a clip fastened to their backpacks.
  • Take a picture of your camper on the first day and start a tradition of doing so each summer. (I do this on the first day of school, too. Hey I may be a scrapbook slacker but I use the heck out of my digital camera.)


Do you have any tips for first time day campers?


Originally published on JamieReeves 

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