I have fond memories of packing my boys for camp. Going to Target the day before the trunks were to be picked up, with hundreds of other frazzled moms, looking for those special, size medium boxer shorts that, of course, they no longer have. Or the socks that don’t show above the sneakers that “everyone” is wearing. Nope, they are out of those too. So just forget the “cool” v-neck undershirts in size small, because those are always the first to go. I thought there was an obesity epidemic? Why were the smaller sizes always the first ones to disappear from shelves in all the Targets within driving distance to where I live? National conspiracy? Girl-moms finally realized how easy it was to shop for boys for camp so they started hoarding the stuff we need? Why is it such a challenge?
After that first year of being mom-shamed by my kids, I was never going to be in that position again. If camp started on June 29, I would start my camp shopping the day after Passover vacation. The trick was remembering where I put all of the stuff that I was buying a month in advance. (That, of course, got harder each year. To this day, I am finding things that were supposed to go to Morasha because one of my boys “really needed” it…oh well. More bug spray and duct tape for me!)
Facebook is great about reminding me what my house was like before trunks got picked up. Annoying comments like, “Still waiting for the trunks to magically pack themselves.” I was always hopeful that one of my precious progeny would wake up one morning and say, “Mom, I am going to pack the trunk myself today. Why don’t you have our butler feed you bonbons all day?”
What considerate boys I have. And how considerate is Husband #1 to get me a butler! Wait, is butler politically correct anymore? Anyway, that whole thing never really happened, so it doesn’t matter. What did happen was that the first summer my precious Son #1 went to camp, he had those personalized labels that needed to be individually ironed onto each one of his belongings. And I was so excited to do that for him. “Honey, our precious first born is going off to camp, he needs to have his full name on all of his socks, underwear, shorts, t shirts, and whatever else is on that ridiculous list. By the way, does anyone ever send up rain boots?
I still remember the year that we forgot Son #1’s hot dogs in the freezer. Yes, hot dogs. Apparently at the camp he went to, food was extra, so we had to send him with his own supply. Don’t worry, we made it back in time. Wouldn’t want the kid to starve. By Son #3, the policies had changed so much that the snack box requirement came with detailed measurement specifications akin to the one for the space shuttle. I am assuming what I sent was ok because no one called crying that their snacks were confiscated. And what is camp, really, without 300 fruit by the foots and 50 packages of sunflower seeds.
Back to the labeling. That first summer, those iron-on labels. When I didn’t win an award for the time, energy, and many, many burns I inflicted upon myself from the iron, I was done. Next summer, each kid got his initials Sharpied onto his socks and underwear, and their last names on their t shirts, shorts, and any other clothing. I was done with the excitement of the five thousand labels I had ordered. Life is too short to not use a permanent maker on just about anything you are sending to camp.
This is a life lesson, kids. When in doubt, just use a Sharpie. Your life will not take a turn for the worse, I promise (unless, of course, you eat the Sharpie or color on your parents’ walls with the Sharpie. Those are all very bad things to do.)
So here is the lesson. Enjoy the trunk-packing experience. Enjoy when those sweet little faces tell you about the stuff they “just must have.” And then just follow your instincts if you think they actually need it. Let’s be honest — whatever you are going to do, it is going to be wrong anyway.
So just enjoy the ride before you are too old to have anyone going to camp….
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is too old this summer because she doesn’t have anyone in camp. Well, except for Strudel. She goes to Camp Babka and she doesn’t need to pack a trunk….