Millions of kids are signed up and, whether it's day camp or a sleep-away, parents need to be sure their little ones are well-prepared.
Victoria Pericon, an author and the founder of "Savvy Mommy," an online magazine (http://savvymommy.com/), stopped by The Early Show Monday with some ideas to help parents make sure their youngsters are ser for their time away.
The first thing parents should do, Pericon told Russ Mitchell, is make sure the camp offers activities their child will enjoy — sports, dance, photography, theater, art, etc.
If the child has never been to camp before, talk with other parents to see whether your child's friends will be going to camp; they may be happier if they know some people already at the camp. You could also start off small and only do a sleep-away camp or day camp for the minimum number of weeks the camp allows, instead of the full summer session of eight weeks.
The best age to send kids to camp for the first time is about 4 for day camp for a half-day or full day, a few days a week. At 5, they can pretty much go every day for a full day to a day camp. As for sleep away, the average starter age is 7.
Items kids would find useful at camp include:
MABEL'S LABELS: Sticky labels used to make sure day campers and sleep away campers both return with their prized possessions, whether they're clothes, gear, or water bottles.
SO COZY BOO SHAMPOO AND LEAVE IN DETANGLER: Repels lice, which can live on bunk mate's pillow (for both day camp and sleep away campers).
CAMP PACS FOOD: Free camp care packages don't invite unwanted critters, but remind the camper parents are thinking of them. Always include something to share with other campers: stickers, a magazine, nail polish, etc.
NALGENE WATER BOTTLE: With a wide mouth it is easier to fill with ice water and take on hikes for both day camp and sleep away camp.
AUTOGRAPHABLE CAMP PILLOW CASE: For sleep away campers or a shirt for day camp attendees as a camp memento.
SHADY DAY SUNSCREEN WIPES and Teeny Towels DEET-free insect repellent wipes: A mess-free way to combat the sun and insects
To get kids ready on the medical front, ones with food allergies or other illnesses should have additional medication (Epi-pen or TwinJet, insulin, etc.) for them to take along. Also, make sure the information on their medical ID bracelet is current. You can always get them a more fashionable sport band medical ID bracelet (www.identifyyourself.com), so they don't stick out like a sore thumb at the pool, etc.
Medications are usually dispensed at the camp's front office or, if they're attending day camp, they can take it before they leave in the morning.
Pericon also advises that parents wait until it's the day for parents to visit sleep away camp to be in touch with them. She says kids will be in contact asking for things, sending postcards in the beginning if they're bored or homesick, but there will be fewer or no postcards as they start having fun, etc. So, just relax and, before you know it, they'll be back home and you'll be back to the school routine.