Categorized | Kids

Packing for Summer Camp

Posted on 23 May 2011

Here is a funny article about packing for Summer Camp, written by Baila Feig, a Professional Organizer in Brooklyn, NY. Enjoy!


I bet you thought this will be an article about finding your bashert …. but no – its about today’s buzzword – being organized!

I know many of you are ready for your next adventure. By now its been a long time since the excitement and frenzy of the Pesach season. After a quiet Sefira period, you are ready for some more action.

Some of you have already shlepped out suitcases, dufflebags, collapsible chairs, and portable frig from the garage and are packing up at least four of your children for camp. You are ready to run around to six stores getting the kids the very latest in camp apparel. Nothing less will do. I mean, what would all the kids at camp say if your kids looked soooo last year! This is a traumatic consequence that must be avoided at all costs! So what if it’ll cost you your mortgage? These are your children, and they must be happy and protected from any disapproval. I mean, you don’t want to threaten their shidduchim prospects from the age of 11, do you? Certainly you don’t. Now wise up and get shopping.

The camp packing list said you need three weeks worth of socks, underwear, shirts and towels. Is the camp not planning on doing laundry? Or do they know (from vast experience) that no one (especially boys!!) are not changing their laundry very often and only some of it winds up at the laundromat? So why do you need so much laundry? Because, as all experienced mothers know, some of their children’s laundry simply disappears and evaporates. Especially socks. Always. Whether it be at home, camp, bungalow, hotel, school Shabbaton or Bubby and Zeidy’s house, the children will not come home with everything you sent and they will have to keep using their remaining stock, but a lot of that will also not return. You will never see the laundry again. And you will never know why. It is one of the great mysteries of life – kind of like one of the Eight Wonders of the World. Or like the Bermuda Triangle – but that’s about shorts. For those of you who got the double entendre, we can discuss that in a future article.

Circulating in the atmosphere somehow, invisibly, are all these socks wishing they can be reunited with their mate. But it will never haphazardly come to be. It will take a higher power. They too are suffering from the Shidduch crises. Ooohhhh – I know! We can start a new shidduch group! We can call it the MatchSocks Group! or Looking for My Solemate Group! I can just see it. Hundreds of women bringing shoe boxes brimming with unmatched socks. I’ve got it -The Sock Exchange! This is brilliant! The women will try to make a sock-match with another mother’s socks! You know how many matches we can make in one night! We’d wind up the front page of the Shidduch Magazine as the year’s most successful shidduch group. Do you know how many mothers will come home thrilled? They will finally feel that after years of attending shidduchim meetings, they can finally come home with some jubilant news! They will have what once was a jumble of mix-matched socks now rolled into balls of same socks! They’ll never again hear their son say, “Ma! I’m not wearing one plain polyester sock with one cotton socks with lines! Everyone in class will think I’m such a nerd!” To which you can say, “If there is any boy in your class who is looking under your pants hem to check out whether or not your socks match, I want to speak to his mother, and the principal!”

Okay, we got a little worked up about socks. But when you are passionate about something, it shows.

As a Professional Organizer, I come across this quandary all the time. There is always a drawer with, nebech, the single socks. In the past I have advised my client to reconcile themselves to the fact that these socks will remain single for the duration of the owners lifetime and beyond, unless they were to attend the shidduch groups..

One very effective solution which many people utilize is to buy a male collection and female collection of all the same exact socks so you can always make pairs with the not-yet-lost socks. Another idea I recommend is having the camper put his or her pair of socks in a zippered mesh bag every night (ha!) and when it is laundry day, put a safety pin through that little hole in that zipper puller-thing and loop the pin through some of the mesh (we wish!). Now all you have left to do is hope the whole bag comes back to your child. It may not. If not, then you have to go to the Post Office and ship them another three weeks worth of socks.

Simultaneously to shopping, labeling, hemming and packing for your kids, you, of course, are trying to do all of the same for the rest of the family that are going to either the bungalow, mountains, country, colony, or upstate, or all of the above. Except for this excursion, it will require you to pack up most of the house and fit it all in to a two-room shack into which you will shtup your other six children, husband and cleaning lady.

Besides taking at least two sets of dishes, paper goods, food, pots, pans, grill, bicycles, linens, beach chairs, too many weekday clothes, too many Shabbos clothes, every kind of sweater, jacket, and raincoat, etc., etc. ,etc., no bungalow feels like home unless you install air conditioning, so be sure to take at least two. And don’t forget your laptop or iPad. You must tell all your friends whether they are in the mountains, or nebech, in the city, how much fun you are having in the colony. You can use Facebook or IM, or Chat or Twitter or texting or bbm, etc. on your Blackberry, SmartPhone or iPhone so you won’t have to actually speak to anybody. Whose got time? You have to wait on line for the washer and dryer, then run to the bread truck, and the stocking and teichel lady car, lay by the pool, shop in the on-site grocery and plotz about the prices, and then rush to the bungalow to make spaghetti and cheese before the sweaty ,dirty, overtired and kvetchy little ones get back from day camp. That’s when the real work begins. Are you having any fun yet?

For those of us who stay home, let me tell you what we are doing while you are all away, enjoying yourself. We are driving to Borough Park and finding parking spots on the very block we are shopping! And we have the stores to ourselves because the rest of the world is in the country. And everything is on sale because the shopping frenzy is over and the stores are already showing the fall inventory and back-to-school clothes, and its only early July! The streets are devoid of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, traffic jams, incessant honking, fighting over parking spots, and mothers with baby strollers and many other children walking four across on the avenue. We, takeh, get a vacation without even going anywhere.

Y’all have a great time shopping, packing, shlepping, unpacking, shtuping and enjoying the beautiful country air laying on a chaise lounge – we summertime Brooklynites are just envious!!

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