Making school camp an epic experience

Making school camp an epic experience

It seems no sooner are the kids back at school than they’re off again on that classic kiwi experience, the school camp.

Depending on the age of your child, they might be delving into the garage for the tent or determining who is having the top bunk (or not) in the cabin.

Either way, the camp lists are out and the whanau is being canvassed for gear. So what will help your child have the best time?

Firstly, check what activities the school has planned. Anything to do with water means that extra clothing, including footwear, will be required. Remember New Zealand weather is changeable and layers work best for regulating body temperatures in the outdoors. Thermals, windproof jackets, warm hats and socks are essential.

Camps may be at higher elevations than your child is used to, and therefore will be cooler at nights. Check that your sleeping bag is suitable for the environment. I remember a teacher on school camp telling me a good rule of thumb, ‘if a sleeping bag has a picture on it, it’s not warm enough’. Let your child know that wearing (clean) socks to bed is also a good idea if they feel cold at night.

Involve your child in the packing of their gear so they recognise what you’ve gathered for them, especially of you have borrowed things they’re not familiar with. This will help keep lost items to a minimum. Try to fit everything in one or two bags, they only have two hands and will need to carry everything themselves. Dry sacks are great for dirty and wet gear, you do not want this through the rest the bag!

Camps can be costly so ask around to see what you can beg and borrow before buying new things. Schools usually issue their gear lists in  plenty of time for you to do this. Most children go on more than one camp during their time at school, so if you do have to buy some items keep this in mind. The most important thing is that your child will be warm and dry.  A sample gear list is below, some items are optional.  Cross check with your school.

At any age some children will feel anxious about going to camp. Your child’s teacher will be able to direct you to useful resources to help manage this. Do this early so you have enough time to work things through. If you’re the anxious one, talk to other parents and seek advice so your anxiety doesn’t impact on your child’s experience. It might help to remember schools complete comprehensive risk management plans and put a lot of work into planning everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

Once the labelling is done, the bags are packed, the skits practiced, midnight feasts planned and the intrepid campers are off, you can relax for a day or two until the tired child and pile of washing returns!

Sample gear list

Long trousers
Shorts
T-shirts
Socks
Underwear
Warm fleece jacket or woollen jersey
Thermal (or wool) top and bottoms
Rain coat
Warm hat
Sun hat / cap
Sturdy shoes or tramping boots
Comfortable shoes for around camp, which can get wet
Warm pyjamas
Toiletries (toothbrush, paste, soap, shampoo, brush/comb, etc.)
Sun block
Insect repellent
Any medication
Towel
Swimming togs and beach towel
Warm sleeping bag
Bed roll or sleeping mat
Pillowcase
Torch and batteries
Tea towel
Cup/plate/bowl/fork/spoon/knife (non-breakable)
Dry sack or similar for dirty and wet washing (you do not want this through the rest of the bag!)
Small day pack
Water bottle
Camera (optional)
Books/cards/games (optional)
Sunglasses (optional)