Tips and Tricks to Make Sleepaway Camp the Most Fun


My daughter went to sleepaway camp for the first time this summer.

I had been to sleepaway camp myself as a kid, but the nineties were a long time ago! While some things have stayed the same, other things have changed. While my daughter was a little nervous at first, she ended up having a wonderful time. Here is the advice that she and I want you to know.

Sign up early

If you have a specific week you want to camp, you need to sign up early. I hadn’t discussed sleepaway camp with my daughter because she had shown no interest in it. Then she found out that two of her friends were going to camp and she wanted to go with them. By the time I found out, that week was already full and she went on the waitlist instead. Luckily, she got in. Next time, I will discuss camp plans with my kids at the end of winter.

Be ready to fill out lots of forms

Seriously, there are a ton of forms. If your child hasn’t had a physical in the past year, make sure to schedule one before camp. Also, make sure you can find your insurance card. My daughter’s camp also required proof of being vaccinated for COVID-19. Thank goodness I could fill out all these forms online!

a dock at sleep-away camp

There is so much stuff to pack

My daughter was at camp for a week, but she packed a suitcase, a giant duffle bag, and two other bags. Don’t wait until the last minute to pack! Make sure to pack lots of warm clothes because it can get chilly overnight, even in summer. My daughter brought one of my husband’s sweatshirts to remind her of home. I highly recommend sending a laundry bag. When my daughter got home, I just dumped the whole thing in the washer. Easy! The one thing that we packed which never got used was a bug net. My daughter said it was too much work!

Drop-off will take some time

We waited in a long line of cars to drop off our daughter at camp. Once we reached the front of the line, she had a lice check. Then we either had to show proof of a negative COVID test or take one there. Finally, we waited while a counselor came with a wagon to help unload all the bags. My son was in the car and got really bored. Make sure that siblings bring something to entertain themselves while waiting!

You can send letters to your child

My daughter had no interest in writing letters home to us, so I assumed I didn’t need to write to her at camp. Instead, she got jealous when other campers got mail and she didn’t. Lesson learned! Even if your child doesn’t seem interested before going to sleepaway camp, it’s a good idea to send them some mail anyway.

roasting marshmallows over a campfire

Send a fidget

My daughter found a fidget to be really useful. She got homesick at night while waiting to fall asleep. The fidget helped to distract her from her sadness. Just make sure it’s a quiet fidget so your child isn’t keeping all their cabinmates awake!

Be prepared for a grumpy child afterward

My daughter was really tired when she got back from a week of sleepaway camp. She also really missed all her new friends. One of her new friends gave her a self-addressed envelope to take home so they could write letters to each other. Genius idea! My daughter also went on a bit of an Internet binge after she had been without it for a week. Give your child some downtime to rest before jumping right into more activities.

What are your favorite tips and tricks to make the most of sleepaway camp?



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