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March offers many things that bring us one step closer to the summer! Daylight savings, spring flowers, basketball tournaments, and the start of the camp packing season! Every year, we get many questions about packing and what is “really” needed for a camper’s time at Somerset. The answer, one which we have thought a lot about, is that they do not need more but less!

We send our children to camp for a host of reasons, one of which is just to be yourself and enjoy the simple things — like time with friends, playing outside, or learning new skills - and not the material things. As a parent, I love getting gifts and unique items for my kids. I enjoy the process of researching or buying the present, wrapping it, and then seeing the excitement on their faces as they open it. But as a camp parent, camp IS the gift — the gift of friendship, growth, new experiences, and independence.

Gifts, packages, and material possessions get in the way of what we are trying to accomplish at camp. Powering down, simplifying, and thus eliminating the unnecessary competition of who has what makes it easier for campers to find authentic connections and focus on what matters most.

So when I am asked this spring what else parents should get for their camper, I will again reply not much! Whatever they forgot or ran out of, we likely have it in camp or can get it in town often the same day. Needing something at camp is an opportunity for a camper to learn to speak up and self-advocate. Remind your daughter to let her counselor, division head, or myself or Josh know if she needs anything at all.

So follow the packing list and hold off on sending fairy lights, bath mats, or bunk decor. Instead, prepare your child for social interactions, silly events, challenging competitions, and unforgettable memories that will last longer than anything in a box.