What To Pack VS What To Buy When You Arrive
This is a hot topic! You are essentially going to live in another country for the summer, yet you’re only allowed 23KGs (or 50 lbs). How are you going to decide what makes the cut and what you are going to bring with you versus what gets left behind.
This blog post is all about just that. I am going to guide you to what you can purchase in your arrival city before camp starts. So you have it for camp but it doesn’t take up any weight in your checked-in luggage.
Now, before I worked in North America I had no idea what a shower caddy was. It is basically a plastic bucket that has a handle so you can carry all your toiletries and accessories to the shower easily. Many North Americans use these at summer camps and college dorms. At summer camp your shower may not be attached to where you are sleeping. A shower caddy in these situations is 100% necessary yet they are bulky to pack and hard to find in Europe, so it is definitely easier to just grab one in your arrival city.
Flip flops (for the shower)
Following along from my previous item. I suggest buying a pair of cheap slides/flip flops for your shower needs. As previously stated you may have to walk to the shower house and so having a pair of slides is perfect. But also know you are showering in a communal shower house, with other people so walking around barefoot isn’t my personal go-to.
People have just asked me, oh why not just use the flip-flops are taking anyways? This is a full-on no from me! Camp is a dirty, dusty place, you will more than likely be using your flip flops down by the lake, or the pool, walking to and from places and using dirty footwear when you just come out of the shower is foot problems waiting to happen. Save yourself and have a cheap pair for the shower, trust me on this!
Large toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc.
We all know the dreaded weight of those large toiletries and the horror and anticipation of wondering if these large items explode and leak all over your belongings. Avoid all this together buy either doing one of two things.
You can buy small travel-sized toiletries and then purchase larger toiletries once you arrive in your arrival city. Or if you are tied to a certain brand and don’t want to chance not being able to find it in a different country. Purchase it after security at the airport. I have actually done both of these options and I get it personal preference may sway you to go one way or another on this.
Cheap tabletop mirror
This one may seem a little out there, but trust me. Summer camp is all about nature and being yourself. Therefore some of the more traditional camps may not even have mirrors! You are reading this correctly. Again a fragile item to have in your packed luggage, so once you arrive at your destination, go to the dollar store and pick up a small mirror, so you can do your day off makeup or skin routine or shave confidently.
Sleeping bag (if needed)
Traditionally all summer camp staff bring their own bedding/sleeping bag. But when you are flying from another country a sleeping bag can be bulky and take up too much space. Instead of wasting your space in your luggage for a sleeping bag, wait until you arrive at your destination and purchase one from a big box store.
However, I would only suggest this if you are being a counsellor or staying in camp and need bedding. I would not suggest this if you are hired to be an outdoor wilderness leader, then 100% bring your own! You know what equipment you need for your role.
Summer camps are known to run their activities whatever the weather. A little bit of rain won’t stop them from having fun. So you need to be prepared to participate in all weathers. In my first summer, I packed 2 pairs of trainers/closed-toed shoes and 3 pairs of sandals and it rained non-stop my first week. My feet were soggy and cold and my shoes couldn’t keep up and never dried out. On my first day off, I went to the thrift store and purchased a pair of wellies and it truly saved my summer! Instead of being moody and uncomfortable in the rain, I was able to splash in the puddles and be out with my campers making memories.
Again, I wouldn’t pack these in my checked luggage, these are more of a what-if purchase. So don’t spend much on them as you may never need them, but when that rain comes oh boy does it come hard!
All these items I suggested are my personal opinion of what will make your time living at a summer camp more comfortable and what I have personally found I needed. Again, I never brought the more expensive option, I always purchased these items from a dollar store, thrift shop or a Primark-style shop and kept the cost within my budget. You were going to purchase some of these items anyways you’re just doing it in a different country and that’s okay.