SmartyPants vitamins and Kinsa have teamed up to create a series about our favorite summer vacations and the healthy essentials to take with you when you go.
Your kid is going to summer camp. They will be gone a week, perhaps longer, learning survival, social, and other assorted skills as taught by life-seasoned teenagers who have seen it all. It is an amazing opportunity that will help shape your child’s impression(s) of the world and their place in it. They might even send you a postcard. Sure, everyone is excited, but we all know you’re not fooling anyone. Your kid is away from home, possibly for the first time, and that can be equally terrifying for both of you, but mostly you. What about their allergies to certain foods? Potential pollens? Insect bites and bears? What if the other campers are bullies or bad influences? What if your child comes home with eraser tattoos, head lice, or worse, a box of freaking macramé? Luckily, kids are adaptable and resilient, which is to say they might miss you terribly, but most of them will still find the strength to enjoy themselves. It can all be rather intimidating, but stress the benefits of being themselves, meeting new people, experiencing new things, and most of all, having fun. It may be hard to say goodbye, but know that the pending hello on the other side will carry a ton of exciting stories back home with it. And don’t be too hard on them about the lack of postcards, not every memory requires postage.
Whether they’re staying a week or a month, limited to a backpack, or allowed an overabundance of suitcases, there are a few items that can help ensure a healthy summer camp experience. This is our list of must-packs. Yours may vary (but it shouldn’t, because we’re professionals and we’re paid to write this).
Healthy Summer Camp Essentials
- Sunscreen - They will, hopefully, be outside. A lot. The sun is, too. Stress the importance of sunscreen, and when you’re sure they get it, stress it again.Our pick for the best sun protection with the fewest amount of ingredients and wacko-sounding is Babo Botanicals, who pack in a whopping 22% zinc oxide that doesn't leave you looking like a mime (they have a super convenient spray option too!)
- All-natural aloe – in case your kids aren’t 100% on their sunscreen game, aloe has been said to help soothe the burn. We like Lilly of the Desert brand.
- Insect repellent - It seems like every year, at every camp, the mosquitos only get bigger and hungrier. While they probably won’t fly away with your kids, they’ll do their best to chow down. To keep the pests away, we like California Baby Natural Bug Spray, which repels fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies with essential oils such as citronella, lemongrass, and cedar, instead of DEET.
- Water Bottle – Staying hydrated is crucial. Failure to do so can result in cramps, fatigue, overheating, and general crankiness, to name a few. Camps don’t want cranky kids, and should provide ample opportunity for them to stay hydrated. Pack a water bottle (and an extra, because they’ll probably lose the first one) and instruct them top it off whenever they pass a fountain. We like Hydros bottles because they’re BPA and phthalate-free, filtered, and a portion of all proceeds go towards bringing clean water to those in need.
- Books – camp is a time to unplug (much to your kiddos’ dismay). Pack some of your favorite childhood books and encourage entertainment old-school style. Who knows, they just might like it! Stranger things have happened.
- Kinsa Smart Thermometer - Granted, some camps may have rules against technology, but that only applies to the kids. The camp counselors and staff might appreciate . . . Don’t be shy. Tell everyone about it.
- SmartyPants On-the-Go – Kids have enough to bring without including a giant bottle of vitamins. SmartyPants On-the-Go packs contain a full day’s serving of gummies in convenient, travel-size pouches that they can easily pack and take anywhere Just make sure you clear them with the Camp administration and maybe back some extras – once their bunkmates try these, they might be needing to share.
Know anyone with kids going away to summer camp? Share this with them! Do you have any healthy tips, tricks, or essentials for summer camp? We'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments!