Diary of a Dads Overnight Camp Survival: Week 1 & 2

Whatever you want to call it Overnight/Resident/Away Camp it is a whole new world for me as a parent. My summers were non-stop swimming morning and night from the age of 7. Clem on the other hand attended camp as a child and as a young adult counselor. About a week before dropping off Paley for her first summer at away camp, I feared this new adventure might be a complete failure. That fear was squashed by the end of the first night judging from the first day of photos, she was smiling, laughing and truly having a grand time. Another big sign that we need to let go a bit with each year passing. 

The world of Away Camp has only been a myth that I saw in movies and not to common here on the west coast. Watching movies like Little Darlings, Meatballs series or even Space Camp filled my dream as a child of one day enjoying such an awesome experience. Sadly I didn’t have that opportunity but I certainly wanted it for my kids. I had many friends back in college who shared their experiences at camp. Today, one of my good college friends runs a Summer Camp Search Assistance site called CAMPS4U.com. Since the hubby is an old camp alum, he was very supportive of giving this life experience to the kids right from the start. Searching for a camp close by, to curb our anxiety of her being far away was pretty simple. I found Kennolyn at the suggestion of many friends who’s kids attend the camp. Last summer, we tried the Day camp and Paley fell in love right after the first day and begged to attend the overnight. Sadly the summer sessions were booked and lets face, Clem and I weren’t ready last summer to make such a big leap. 

Fast forward to the summer 2017 and the big day was upon us. Being a rookie myself, preparing for our little one’s flight from the coop was long and emotional process of researching and ridiculous cries for help from my friend at Camps4U. Looking back at those conversations now, it was pretty pathetic in a way. The key areas I was worried about were packing and all of the little fun things, every camp parent swears are needed. Such fun things include:

- Personal labels for everything (Buy plenty because some will wash off)

  • Postcards (Wishful Thinking that your kid is going write to you)
  • Bed Caddy (Got this suggest to late but it could really come in handy)
  • Flashlights and Bed Lamp(I found 
  • Clip on Fan (We forgot to set it up so it never went up)
  • Stationary Holder (Clipboard really and useful anything except writing)


Lesson learned from packing, follow the packing list. I severely overpacked P’s trunk, it was very heavy. In truth, I was thinking in terms of clothing options which was completely the wrong frame of mind. I return to my initial confession, I am new to this whole overnight camp game. My number one recommendation is to follow your camps recommended packing list. 

We are now knee deep in her second week and I will admit the second time around that we are a little more relaxed this time. And we are talking to each other! Another piece of advice to anyone new to this world overnight camping as a parent, don’t stress about the photos that the camp posts. In some of the earlier posts, Paley was barely looking at the camera and not smiling. Don’t fret if you see a similar response in your childs shots. Our experience, is the kid will become more aware or more open in front of the camera. So far the second time around, she’s beaming from shot to shot.

What about correspondence, most of the camps have set up an email system through their websites and many parents send or recommend sending postcards with your kid. My advice, if you choose to utilize the the online email system, less is more, meaning give access to less. Think of it this way, if two parents use it, that easily 4-6 messages in one weeks, add grandparents and other family members, that number can jump up to over a dozen emails in just one week. Bottomline, if your kid is only going to camp for a week or two, don’t expect any correspondence. Your kid is going to be so busy on a daily basis, reminiscing about home is way down on the priority list. Right below “What should I have for dessert tomorrow” and “did I take a shower yesterday?”. You might be saying well I am sending my kid to camp for over 6-7 weeks, the will have plenty of time. Judging from my friends who have kids away that long, the kids only send quick messages like “I LOVE YOU SEE YOU SOON” or a simple “CAMP OK - MIGHT WRITE SOON”. 

We look forward to twins starting Day-Camp next summer, they could have gone this summer but they are just too young in our opinion. The lessons learned in your first experience can be a laundry list but all of them boil down to one theme. Patience, which is a running theme for all parents in the history of time.

BRIAN H-K2 Comments