5 Tips to Help Reduce Summer Camp Packing Panic

Camp Mah-Kee-NacJun 13, 2023

inside of cabin
5 Tips to Help Reduce Summer Camp Packing Panic – Last minute duffel advice from a Mah-Kee-Nac Mom

Ah, the end-of-year “joys” – class parties, graduations, teacher gifts, family visits, no after-school activities, colleagues rushing projects so they can pretend to be invisible all summer, and of course, packing duffels. While a summer at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac filled with boy-bonding and fun activities in the beautiful Berkshires is the greatest gift you can give your sons, packing their bags for overnight camp is kind of the parental booby prize. But we push on. Now, I’ve made every packing/ordering mistake there is, so this post is not about what you should’ve done differently. These are just some packing tips to get you through the final summer camp packing days.


  • Perhaps you ran out of labels, or your labels never arrived (happened to me last year…not my finest moment. If there’s a no-call list for Label Daddies, I’m on it). Don’t worry – you have options. These clothing labels from Amazon are blank – you write the name on them (best done with slim sharpies). They work shockingly well – most of ours are still stuck on! Depending on your timing, can get a personalized stamp or a DIY one.  These aren’t great, but they work on some items and give your hand a break. Plus, my kids had fun stamping “butt” on everything around the house, so that was a win.
  • Also, (don’t kill me, Rachel), but you don’t have to label socks. 18 pairs of socks that don’t hold labels x two socks each x multiple kids= Xanax. We write their initials in sharpie. Until we give up.

2. Uniform Issues

  • This may be shocking per my first note, but every time I think I’m ordering uniforms early, I’m apparently not. So, I start every summer anxiously tracking the uniform package. The good news – Everything Camper can re-route most items to camp if need be, or send you a pre-printed label if they arrive at your house, like, the day after the kids leave.
  • If you have a return camper, this year’s uniform is the same as last year’s uniform. Crop tops are in.
  • Kids can borrow stuff from other kids. Let’s be honest, they probably share toothbrushes.
  • No one will ridicule your son for having or wearing the wrong uniform shirt. MKN kids don’t play that way. And Rachel and Jamie will always help you figure something out, so don’t stress.

3. Bye, Towels

  • Send very crappy towels. I repeat. DO. NOT. SEND. GOOD. TOWELS. I buy new (crappy) towels each summer. The list says eight towels, the boys use the same two towels over and over, and whatever comes back is not something anyone wants touching their body. For the price of a spinning class or, like, three Starbucks matcha tea lattes (why are those so expensive?), you can buy new towels like these or these and happily kiss them goodbye.


  • Music: Why no one has made the perfect MP3 player that downloads Spotify but requires no WiFi is beyond me. Does Mark Zuckerberg not have kids at camp? (And in case you got suckered, The Mighty does have to sync, don’t get it). We’ve bought cheap MP3s like this one that last a surprisingly long time. The kids won’t have their own music, but they will have your 2000’s iTunes library with cutting-edge hits like Gnarls Barkley “Crazy” and Pink’s “So What”.
  • Don’t forget:
    • Batteries (see next note)
    • Stamps
    • Keep some bathing suits at home if you ship bags (this one is tricky, but I’ve learned they can stuff things into their backpack on the camp bus or flight. Better to have what you need for the next two weeks).
    • Fans – they really do use these (but can’t seem to figure out how to change a battery). Again, see below.

5. Teamwork makes the dream work!

  • If your child is old enough to use an iPad or iPhone, they’re old enough to stick some labels on clothes (it’s fun, too!). And in the name of feminism and good role modeling, make sure dads are involved too – multiple duffels in the middle of the house are the most visible, invisible labor there ever was.  If someone doesn’t know what to do (or you’ve become terrifying in your end-of-year mode), tell them to organize sheets, count underwear & socks, and buy batteries. Men seem to really enjoy buying batteries.


So, with these tips, I wish you the best packing luck. I do feel extremely accomplished when I finish this task (is that sad?). And I have a new best friend in the form of an Amazon delivery man, so that’s cool. But the real win here is knowing that I’m sending my kids (very well-equipped) to experience what will be the best, most pure, most joyful weeks of their entire year. Perhaps the hardest part of packing duffels is that I really wish I could pack myself inside…


For more information please visit www.campmkn.com. To keep up with camp throughout the summer season and beyond, follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Interested in Camp Mah-Kee-Nac for summer 2024? Schedule a tour today! 

Written by Becky Randel


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